A while ago, you gave some very helpful information on how to create a local account on my Windows 8.1 laptop. I followed this advice because I don’t want my documents to be stored on SkyDrive except when I want them to be. I did this with a Windows 7 Netbook using Boxcryptor to encrypt stuff held on Sky Drive. This worked really well; it allowed me to store stuff on the Netbook or Sky Drive as I decided. My problem is with Win 8.1, I’m really missing Minesweeper but I can’t find a trustworthy download to play on my PC except as a Windows app.
All the downloads I’ve tried seemed to end up with potentially unwanted programs which malwarebytes warns me about. In desperation, I started to install the Win 8.1 app but was asked to sign in to my Microsoft account. This then told me that any documents I create will be stored on Sky Drive, which I don’t want so I canceled the process. I want to decide if I put stuff on Sky Drive or on my local computer. The impression I get is that by signing into my Microsoft account, I’m abandoning my local account. Is that correct? Can I sign into the Microsoft account but then log out and back into my local machine account easily or as easily as with Windows 7? If this is possible, what’s the procedure? I find Windows 8.1 really confusing and just can’t see how to do it.
There are actually two scenarios here that I think are getting confused a little bit. And absolutely, Microsoft has done a wonderful job of making things confusing. Let’s see if we can clear some of this up.
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Your Microsoft account and your machine
Signing into your Microsoft account to access something like the Microsoft store is unrelated to using your Microsoft account to login to your own machine. These are two different things.
When you use your Microsoft account as your machine login account then yes, you switched away from using your old local machine account. When you log in to your machine using your Microsoft account, things like SkyDrive get a little easier, and I’m sure that there are other benefits of doing so.
But you certainly don’t have to.
I use Windows 8.1 and I log in to my machine using the same old local account that I’ve used for years on all of the versions of Windows that I’ve gone through.
Your Microsoft account and the Microsoft Store
The Microsoft Store app really makes it seem like you need to use your Microsoft account to login to your machine. When you attempt to install an app you’ll be faced with this request:
Again, you do not need to do this. Microsoft is simply trying to get everyone to use a Microsoft account for their PC’s.
If you look near the bottom of that screen you’ll also see this link:
Click that instead. You’ll then be able to login to your Microsoft Account for the application without needing to change how you login to your machine.
Your Microsoft account and Microsoft services
When you use your Microsoft account to sign in for something like the Microsoft store, you’re really just using it to sign into an online service. It doesn’t change your machine’s login because it’s unrelated to your machine’s login. It’s kind of like logging into Hotmail or Outlook.com. Both of those use your Microsoft account, but doing so doesn’t change how you login to your machine.
SkyDrive, soon to be called “OneDrive”, adds another layer of confusion. Regardless of how you get it, SkyDrive is not removing any choices. If anything, it’s adding choices. You can store documents in SkyDrive but again, you don’t have to.
You may need to pay attention to where you save. The default might become SkyDrive, for example, but you can always save to your local machine and otherwise ignore SkyDrive.
And once again, that’s exactly what I do. SkyDrive support is integrated into a lot of Microsoft’s software these days, and that’s nice if you like to use SkyDrive. But it’s only a choice, not a requirement.
SkyDrive/OneDrive behaves differently
One thing that I’ve discovered recently about Windows 8.1, and SkyDrive, that may still make your scenario less than what you want it to be is this: if you log in to your machine using your local machine account (which, to be honest, is what I recommend and probably what you really want) you can’t install the old SkyDrive synchronization app.
So what that means is your Boxcryptor scenario, where you’re putting things into a folder on your machine and Boxcryptor is encrypting them before they get uploaded to SkyDrive isn’t going to work anymore. If you want to do that kind of thing I recommend you use a different online storage service like say, Dropbox.
But that’s the only thing I know of that’s going to break here in 8.1. Where you save documents when you run applications is still a choice that you’ll be able to make.
But this ability to run Boxcryptor into Sky Drive with Windows 8.1 isn’t going to work. So my advice: keep your local machine account to login to your machine; sign into the Microsoft store, get your game; and just watch whenever you hit “save” on a document. Your Windows login isn’t going to change.
21 comments on “What Does Signing into My Microsoft Account Really Mean in Windows?”
Thanks Leo for a helpful response, as always. Thanks also to Bill Landau for your suggestion of copying the game(s) from my W7 PC. Unfortunately this doesn’t work and they don’t start when double clicked, so I’ll just have to use my W7 PC when the Minesweeper urge overtakes me! Thanks.
Thanks for the very helpful article; your lucid translation of Microsoft’s invariably puzzling and misleading terminology should be required reading for all PC users. In that spirit, I have one minor technical suggestion. References in the article to “Microsoft Store” should be corrected to read “Windows Store”. “Windows Store”, or alternatively just “Store”, is the name given by Microsoft to its online app that users access to select, download, and install so-called tiled apps for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. “Microsoft store” is the name given by Microsoft to the actual, physical stores (i.e. retail establishments) that Microsoft operates, where a customer can purchase Microsoft software, hardware, and support services.
Skydrive on Win8.1 is different from previous versions. It is imbedded in the Win8.1 code and cannot be removed by normal means, however you can turn it off by setting the appropriate Administrative Policy. After turning it off on the local machine you can then drag and drop files to Skydrive storage and retrieve those files by dragging and dropping back to your PC. That is what I have done and it works great for me.
All of the cooments on the Microsoft account are interesting I encountered 8.1 only a few hours ago after the delivery of my new Dell Laptop so far I seem to be bombarded with advertising but having got past that I reluctantly created a Microsoft Account…..why do they want personal details? When I tried to use it the password I created was declared incorrect are they expecting me to give them my email password?
Yes. If you will have to punch in your MS password ever time you log into your computer if you log in with a MS account. To use apps like Skype, Netflix, etc. you will have to link those accounts to your MS account. So far I just bypass those Apps pages and go to my Windows 7 like dashboard. It seems with Windows 8.1 if you want anything on their Apps page you will have to provide an MS account. I made up a “fake” one but even then I am creeped out by MS constant demands that I acknowledge & submit to their “privacy policies” which take away my privacy & allow them to gather my info & share it with 3rd parties. Windows 9 will reportedly demand a MS account from the start. Big Data/Big Brother is watching your every move. I fight them every day by making a custom “Incognito Mode” version of Google Chrome as my default web browser. Anything that allows you to keep any form of privacy away from MS is definitely NOT RECOMMENDED!
I basically stopped using One drive (Which I started using on Win7) because of this confusion with what gets synced and what not on Win 8.1. Even-though I have WP8, Windows tablet and Win8.1 on my computer, I don’t want to use Microsoft account on my PC and I don’t want this heavy MS account integration. I simply want client I can use.
Not sure why they are forcing users into that direction, but make things totally confusing. There is no confusion with other providers.
Leo: Here’s another one – in the Windows 10 Tech Preview, Microsoft wants you to login to your Microsoft account just to use Cortana. I can understand that MS wants this to be able to personalize the Cortana responses. But sending everything I say to my computer to Microsoft (and I suppose, storing forever) is just creepy.
“I suppose” is quite the supposition.
And interestingly, people have no problem doing the equivalent with Siri, or Google, or any number of similar services.
I am using MS 10 Pro; so, things may be different then above.
That being said; if, I sign into my MS account as requested to operate something like Cortana; my system sees it as a different log in. My user accounts show two log-ins for the one account. Once I am in on that log-in I am stuck to it unless I go to accounts and choose the original. For example, if I shut down and reboot for some reason, the system will be looking for the MS account password when it is reactivated. Since, I do not wish to be connected to Microsoft or any one else and I do not wish to use the “CLOUD”; I do not like it. I can be working for hours linked to them. It uses overhead that slows my system down. I am often creating memory intensive 3-D objects; so, I like to run lean.
Why do I need my MS account to use Cortana? This seems ridiculous to me. It should be optional. I noticed in the set up for it that it used the cloud; but, there should be optional local storage. A lot of us are uncomfortable with having all our info out there on another server that can be attacked.
What if I am not the owner of the computer? What if I want to sell it? How on earth do I remove all my own associations so that the other user never gets any of my records. What if it is a shared computer? I do not want any mix up with other people records.
Prior to selling you erase the hard disk completely using a tool such as DBan.
Ok, I had Hotmail account that is now Outlook. On Hotmail it remembered my email address so all I had to do was enter my password why doesn’t Outlook do the same?
Are you clearing cookies? Clearing cookies deletes saved login information.
It should, but that’s typically a browser setting to remember form fields for you.
If i log into my Microsoft account when i go into PC settings and then users and all that it says logo into microsoft account will that delete all my files i have on my PC? or will it just give me access to more features?
It will not delete files.
Idon’t know how I ended up on Windows 8.1 when I was on windows 10 and all this has got me trying to change my password as I am always putting the wrong password it keeps telling me .This is getting darn frustrating !!!! WHY?
I am lost here. I do not know what a browser is, I only know how to do art on photoshop, paid 650 dollars along time ago to get cs and now I have no time to do my work because everyone is wanting to knw something. you know more than I do so how can I help you.
A web browser is a program to access the web. Internet Explorer, Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari are the main browsers.