Windows 8 will store settings in the cloud via Windows Live

If you jump back and forth between multiple PCs on a regular basis, you probably know how annoying it is to keep track of various customizations and other settings. You can always train yourself to be content with the defaults and use easy-to-remember passwords, but that’s no real solution. What Microsoft is implementing in Windows 8, however, sounds like a better way to address that problem.

As Microsoft’s Katie Frigon explains on the Building Windows 8 blog, Windows 8 will use Windows Live IDs to store user settings in the cloud, making customizations system-independent. When you log into a Windows 8 machine with your Windows Live ID, you’ll purportedly be able to

  • Associate the most commonly used Windows settings with your user account. Saved settings are available when you sign in to your account on any Windows 8 PC. Your PC will be set up just the way you are used to!
  • Easily reacquire your Metro style apps on multiple Windows 8 PCs. The app’s settings and last-used state persist across all your Windows 8 PCs.
  • Save sign-in credentials for the different apps and websites you use and easily get back into them without having to enter credentials every time.
  • Automatically sign in to apps and services that use Windows Live ID for authentication.
  • When you buy a Windows 8 PC and set up your user account for the first time, you can optionally choose to create an account that is associated to a Windows Live ID.

Frigon demonstrates the functionality in the video below:

As Frigon points out, the cloud sync functionality is optional, so you’ll be able to keep accounts off the cloud if you so choose. That ought to reassure some of the tinfoil hat wearers out there—and, you know, people who have legitimate reasons not to want sensitive data and login credentials stored on remote servers. I’m guessing everybody else will appreciate the option, if only for the sake of convenience.

Comments closed
    • FubbHead
    • 8 years ago

    Oh well, I guess it’s an idea good as any. I won’t use it, though.

    But I would really like to have a multi-screen taskbar. Can I? Please?

      • A_Pickle
      • 8 years ago

      [quote=”FubbHead”<]But I would really like to have a multi-screen taskbar. Can I? Please?[/quote<] Yes, um... yes you can. That's a feature in Windows 8.

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    WTF is up with synching? Where do you people buy your computers? I got 3 at home and i woudln’t like them to be set up the same way, cause one is a high end-ish desktop running at 1920×1080 so i can afford to use every bit of eye candy, another desktop is kinda weak and is set up for watching movies and web surfing and a laptop.

    How can this appeal to a home users? I’m assuming here that home users don’t have 2 machines exactly the same, unlike an office where pottentially there a dozens of identical PCs bought from Dell, HP or what have you.

      • A_Pickle
      • 8 years ago

      Syncing is awesome, I don’t dispute that. If you can’t see the appeal of having the same set of bookmarks and the same set of contacts and the same set of calendar events/tasks, I feel for you. Having all of that in synchronicity is [i<]sick[/i<]. I just dispute that I need to use someone else's servers to do this. I have a six-core desktop with 8 GB of RAM and 2 TB of hard drive space at home. I can provide my own online services, though conveniently, the Googles and the Apples and the Microsofts of the world seem "not to have thought of this." < (WEEOOO WEEOOO BS DETECTOR RED ALERT) Of course they thought of it. It's just... Google services aren't the product. It's users are.

    • Ashbringer
    • 8 years ago

    Where’s that freaking copy of Ubuntu already! I had it here somewhere. Screw it, I’ll bit torrent it.

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    Nielsen says that
    2 quarters of smartphones is Google Android
    1 quarter is Apple
    the remaining quarter is fought over by all the rest (Blackberry, Windows, Nokia and probably some others too).
    Do you really think Metro is going to change tha substantially?

    • Jahooba
    • 8 years ago

    I like options, and I’m glad MS is thinking about innovative approaches.

    BUT, it only takes a few seconds to make these changes, and seems to be most helpful if you use Internet Explorer, which I don’t. Firefox has plenty of cloud-syncing addons, and it doesn’t matter which version of Windows you’re on.

    Also, the only time I’ve used someone else’s PC (ew) I was in college, and every PC there was a virus-infected mess. You don’t want to enter any passwords on a strange machine.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Innovative? Not really:
      [url<]https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Distributed_Computing_Environment[/url<] Unix has had this since the early 1990's.

        • yogibbear
        • 8 years ago

        They should get their patents out and start suing MS for patent breach…. 🙂

          • willmore
          • 8 years ago

          2011-1992 > 17 years. Heck, 20 years is coming up quickly.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    Finally Microsoft has an original idea. I’m really excited by everything we are hearing leading up to win8. Where as the thing that made win 7 so good was how it undid much of the vista ridiculousness win8 actually looks to be moving beyond giving us basic function that should have been patched into win xp but is rather generating a completely new user experience.

    As a designer and nerd I’m excited for the implications of such a move for the whole of the tech industry and I’m anticipating getting this at launch.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    Why the hell does this functionality only come ONLINE, via the cloud.

    We have been CRYING OUT FOR 17 YEARS to let us save user preferences somewhere other than the goddamn registry, and THIS IS THEIR SOLUTION? Things Frigon demostrates here could be exported and synced in any number of different ways. Yet what is the preferred medium?

    MSN?

    You get an F, Microsoft.
    Go away, do it again, and come back to us when you’ve done it properly.

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]Why the hell does this functionality only come ONLINE, via the cloud[/quote<] All the better to one day bill you for access to your own data, my dear...

      • yogibbear
      • 8 years ago

      So that they can track it, sell it, analyze it, etc.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Can’t you get this same functionality on a LAN using their directory services, etc? You can probably do it for free with SAMBA.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      MS is not out there to make live easy for us.
      MS is out there to make money for itself.

    • mutarasector
    • 8 years ago

    “That ought to reassure some of the tinfoil hat wearers out there—and, you know, people who have legitimate reasons not to want sensitive data and login credentials stored on remote servers.”

    Gee, by equating “tinfoil hat wearers” with folks with privacy concerns, we aren’t being a tad condescending, are we?

      • dpaus
      • 8 years ago

      Not if it’s Microsoft that’s storing your sensitive, personal data, no. Anyone who thinks they might have security issues is obviously a member of the lunatic fringe.

      • yogibbear
      • 8 years ago

      I thought it was being sarcastic….i.e. pointing out the one major flaw with the whole thing… perhaps I read things differently to you.

      • Jahooba
      • 8 years ago

      He doesn’t equate the two (read it again). There’s a difference between legitimate privacy concerns and paranoia. One is based on facts, the other is based on a ‘feeling’ of insecurity.

    • ApockofFork
    • 8 years ago

    I’m surprised about all the negativity. My first thought when I heard this was, “about damn time!”. Of course I normally do my best to sync things up between my computers with software I already use. I also use windows mesh (or is it sync now?? they keep changing it) to back things up and move things between machines. I think it would be totally awesome if I could leave my desktop and re-open office on my laptop and have it be in the exact same state as when I left. Thats really sweet.

    And maybe I’m just not careful enough but I’m really not that worried about having Microsoft store lots of data about me on the web. They have a pretty good security track record and really I honestly don’t think anything of real importance will be stored unencrypted up there.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Some people really are naive.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Not sure I like it. Not sure if everyone will truly find this useful as I imagine most people usually sticking with their own computers and not let many other folks use theirs. Even if it’s a computer room in a university, I imagine hacks being able to retrieve information regarding other student’s profiles, which could open up a can of worms as far as security and/or privacy is concerned. As for admins, I’d rather Windows let me create a file containing the information I want restored when I reformat a PC. That, at least, wouldn’t require an Internet connection. We don’t have to store everything remotely. They’re really pushing this Cloud hype, aren’t they?

    Bottomline: Good thing it’s optional.

    • yogibbear
    • 8 years ago

    Just another “feature” that I’ll be disabling day 1.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      Certainly.
      The moment I saw it….
      Question: will they allow us to switch it off in, say, Windows 9?

        • Chrispy_
        • 8 years ago

        Indeed. The classic start menu that vanished was the last good one. A list of installed programs that your could modify to your heart’s content.

        Its poor cousin these days is all we are allowed. An extra click to get to the list, then it’s too small, has to be scrolled and doesn’t fit long filenames. Total usability failure. Sure, Microsoft want you to use their new history-based jump-lists instead, but that doesn’t mean they had to CRIPPLE the old features to encourage people to move.

        IMO that’s not a choice, that’s just stupidity.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 8 years ago

      You only use one computer? I think it’s a pretty awesome system for those of us with multiple machines.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    “Save sign-in credentials for the different apps and websites you use and easily get back into them without having to enter credentials every time.”

    i can just imagine all the wonders others will do with others bank accounts!

      • axeman
      • 8 years ago

      I’m pretty sure your data will be safe with Microsoft, pioneers of information security that they are.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        You must be joking.

    • Martian
    • 8 years ago

    [i<]"I'm guessing everybody else will appreciate the option, if only for the sake of convenience."[/i<] Being lazy and incautious is a virtue nowadays? Actually what else can one expect from a generation that shares on facebook how their fart smells like...

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      I heard someone said it smels like toothpaste:
      [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb5thsgz-Dk[/url<]

    • Palek
    • 8 years ago

    Storing settings in the cloud is great and all, but it will not work well across different system languages unless Microsoft finally decides to go global and include all languages in every copy of Windows, not just Ultimate.

      • odizzido
      • 8 years ago

      Language compatibility has been a long standing problem. What they really need to do is allow non-unicode programs to run in their native language regardless of whether or not you are logged in under that language.

      Having to relog in just to run a certain program, and then not be able to run programs in other languages at the same time is a pain in the ass.

    • Geistbar
    • 8 years ago

    Obligatory attempt at humor: Microsoft needs to teach its employees about protecting their passwords! And choosing stronger passwords too.

    More serious comment: This seems to be a use for cloud storage that is nice. I enjoy having chrome sync my bookmarks and such, though I have not had a use for that as of late. At the very least, this should make setting up a computer (new, reformatted, or otherwise) much less frustrating.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    Every time I see Metro I see “Form over Function” ruining usability.

    It appears to be a jumble of tiles ranging from control panel applets to websites, unsorted and uncategorised. The “pages” you flick through are arbitrarily divided up into crappy little segments that contain unrelated junk from all over the place etc. Maybe that’s just the setup used for demoing Metro and it’ll be completely cusomisable.

    However, the “build your own home screen” approach is pointless. How is it different to desktop icons?
    Why do I need a touchscreen interface for a non-touchscreen PC?

    Realistically, Microsoft is putting all its bets on a tablet-only, touchscreen, cloud-based, always-online future. Realistically, I don’t have a touchscreen. I’m using a projector, or a presentation screen, or I’m on a sofa out of reach of the touchscreen, or on a laptop because I need a keyboard that lets me type my pathetic 60wpm rather than the 1-finger hunt-and-peck Frigon demonstrates here…

    ….or using a mouse, to do something with a precise accuracy that no touchscreen or trackpad has ever come close to providing.

    The ONLY thing we need a touch-interface for is tablets, and a full blown windows OS is ridiculous overkill for something as low-powered as a tablet. Sure, tablets will get more powerful, but their key functionality is based around always/instant-on, long-battery-life, incredible simplicity. It’s taken me until this demonstration to truly appreciate that Metro [b<]really is[/b<] just Windows Phone 8, and that a phone-OS has too many fundamental incompatibilities with the "traditional" PC model of using a screen, keyboard and pointing device to run applications and access files.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 8 years ago

      My take on it is that Microsoft is attempting to rebuild – and is largely doing so on Apple’s model. The average person wants things as simple as possible. We are not the target market here.

      I think their strategy can work – and work well – if they can execute. That’s a big if at this point.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        Microsoft built their empire by being the perfect balance between ease of use and functionality. They’ve decided to abandon that for the Apple route.

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 8 years ago

          “Microsoft built their empire by being the perfect balance between ease of use and functionality.”

          I’m not sure that’s true. It looks to me that they became large because:

          Dos being the only game in town, then vendor lock in, then competitor stupidity (Lotus, Wordperfect holding on too long in the Dos world), undocumented OS calls in their own software, and a variety of other things – some of which was luck.

          I prefer windows not just because of its flexibility and the number of games, but also because I can accomplish the same task a number of different ways. Apple allows you to do things their way typically – and if that works for you then you’re golden (there are sometimes third party hacks but just as often Apple breaks them).

          So far what we’ve heard is that Metro is optional.

            • PeterD
            • 8 years ago

            MS became large because they saw that it was usefull to be on the front of the wave which spread the use of computers.
            There were competitors for MS-Dos (yes, there were), but they targeted the traditional computer clients. They didn’t see that the market was growing and that the use and market of computers spread increasingly over much larger crowds which traditionally didn’t have anything to do with computers.
            MS saw that, and directed it’s marketing at those crowds.
            That’s why they grew.
            If MS is loosing it now, than that is because those crowds aren’t growing anymore, but changing.
            And that’s why MS tries to change Windows, to cater for that changing behaviour.
            But in doing so, they’re pissing off people who want Windows because it suits the uses it is meant for.
            It’s like changing a saloon car to an off road car, because some people suddenly prefere an off road car.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 8 years ago

    I think that while it has its perks trusting someone else with potentially your browsing habits, and personal information etc. whether that’s on the cloud or on a rented computer is inherently a bad idea.

    Will there be a way to ensure that there’s no traces left on the old machine? This just screams of problems to me. “Oh I just tossed my old pc out. Since I had windows 8 on it there shouldn’t be anything on there anyway.”

      • Martian
      • 8 years ago

      You should be worried about the things that you store in the cloud. All the information about everybody is going to be at the same place, served on a silver plate. This sounds lovely…

    • ShadowTiger
    • 8 years ago

    Sorry for double post 🙁

    • ShadowTiger
    • 8 years ago

    Windows Live? No thanks.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      double post ftw!

        • ShadowTiger
        • 8 years ago

        Thats weird, I’ve never double posted before on TR… wheres the delete?

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah a delete post thing might be a good idea. It’d play havoc with comments though.

      • mutarasector
      • 8 years ago

      Windows: Live = Evil

    • ludi
    • 8 years ago

    Roaming profiles…except you no longer control the serving host, or its security policy.

    This should go well.

    • Oldtech
    • 8 years ago

    Microsoft is forgeting one thing though. Not every computer on the planet has internet access.
    This is just more marketing crap.
    Why don’t they fix networking so it works properly without a DHCP server?
    Why don’t they fix Scheduled Task so it reports the status of tasks in real time, like in XP?
    Why don’t they fix Search so it actually finds things and can be used to search for networked computers, like XP?
    Bah..looks like I will be looking to Linux for the 200+ computers I manage.

    Oldtech

      • 5150
      • 8 years ago

      You go girl!

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        don’t be ridiculous. girls don’t know about computers. they’re too hormonal. everyone knows that.
        edit I’M BEING MINUSED FOR THIS? WHAT?!?!?!? THERE IS NO JUSTICE!!!!!

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      > Not every computer on the planet has internet access.
      uh, I think they are pretty aware of this, but what does this have to do with a cloud-connected service that *will* require internet access?

      > Why don’t they fix networking so it works properly without a DHCP server?
      Why would you want that?

      >Why don’t they fix Scheduled Task so it reports the status of tasks in real time, like in XP?
      “Display all running tasks” not working?

      > Why don’t they fix Search so it actually finds things and can be used to search for networked computers, like XP?
      Windows key+E “Network”–>search doesn’t work for you?

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Windows key+E "Network"-->search doesn't work for you?[/quote<] It doesn't work for me. You have to open each networked computer individually to search.

        • mutarasector
        • 8 years ago

        > Not every computer on the planet has internet access.
        uh, I think they are pretty aware of this, but what does this have to do with a cloud-connected service that *will* require internet access?

        You mean like that “teeny weeny” market of enterprise mobile users such as my visiting home nurse? I can’t help but think just how >secure< I feel that all my medical records/info is soooo secure by virtue of HPPA requirements when she visits and retrieves/blasts my info over a ‘secure’ 3G based cloud service of their own… :-/

        Absolutely no chance that info would ever end up in New Dehli, eh?

      • Glix
      • 8 years ago

      1) Nope they haven’t forgotten anything, they have just increased the amount of information they link to your Live account. (Bad thing in my opinion, means that slow Live service will just get even slower)

      2) Yup but hey what’s new? Microsoft are always short on good features come a new interim OS (think ME).

      3) It already works, by default it waits for a DHCP, failing that you can set it to resort to your own settings.

      4) I’ve never bothered to even set up a scheduled task never mind check on it.

      5) A search that spans all shares? Handy, but why not write your own specialised program to do that? Why go back to XP’s horrible networking? Also the search starts from the moment you enter the first character, so that might be a bit messy for a network search.

      Over 200 computers and you want a search that go across shares??? :<

      Whilst I use MS operating systems, I think your wants are way above what the average user wants hence the Metro interface and the profile saving.

      • kitsura
      • 8 years ago

      While they’re at it they should fix the bluetooth stack to work with devices that are non-Microsoft branded.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 8 years ago

      have fun migrating 200+ XP users in a windows environment into a Linux enviro. good luck lolz

    • Vasilyfav
    • 8 years ago

    I actually like this use of the cloud, as long as it only stores generic OS settings, like mouse sensitivity, folder locations and sizes, etc.

    As long as I’m able to customize it, so the more personal things and security settings don’t go into the cloud, I will love this feature. Feels a little bit like Steam profiles actually.

      • Glix
      • 8 years ago

      Which defeats the point of this doesn’t it?

      If computer A of mine is setup perfectly for computer A, and then I move over to computer B which does not share any of the specs of computer A, what a mess that will turn out to be.

      Example: Comp A has a resolution of 1920×1200, but I’ve changed the DPI to 90 for reading text. Comp B has a resolution of 1366×768. I wouldn’t want to have that carry across.

      If it was an internet cafe, this would work ok since usually all the hardware is of the same spec, but switching mice and screens, and you can see that instantly you don’t want your settings applied since they wouldn’t apply the same.

      /rant over, it’s safe to come out. :p

        • Geistbar
        • 8 years ago

        I believe that is why Vasilyfav specified being able to customize it. I assume the system will be smart enough to identify settings that should be hardware specified. Other settings (such as your DPI example) that might be intended for a specific machine could (ideally) have a way to enable / disable syncing them. Otherwise, they might just avoid including such settings at all, to play it safe.

        • Vasilyfav
        • 8 years ago

        There are plenty of things that could be carried over that aren’t hardware specific. Like I pointed out earlier, folder options, indexing options, mouse sensitivity, energy saving modes (for portable devices), toolbar and task bar behaviors are all examples of what I would like to sync across multiple PCs and things that will not compromise security.

        The only question is how fast will it sync and how intelligent and customizable their system will be.

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 8 years ago

          Seeing how these are all generally very helpful for the end user without privacy concerns I’m in complete agreement.

          The problem is that it is a live account. If this was, for example, run by verisign, or some other third party that wasn’t also looking for a gazillion ways to monetize you I could see it. A sort of LastPass for preferences would be great.

      • axeman
      • 8 years ago

      If the pattern of recent years continues, Windows 8 will probably have the most annoying default settings yet, so this will be nice. I’m guessing the default icon size will be about 4096×4096.

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      “folder locations”?!
      So you’ld like to build a roadmap to the locations of your maps and put that on the internet?

      • PeterD
      • 8 years ago

      “customize it”?
      Given the general lack of computer skills of the general users, most people won’t be able to customize it.

        • PeterD
        • 8 years ago

        Although it seems a paradox, most people using computers are computer illiterate.
        I see that every day.

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    looks sweet.
    queue the pervy old men talking about the woman….

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 8 years ago

      While the really creepy people are using the info she shares for the purposes of identity theft.

      The even creepier people are trying to figure out how many hours the children are left home alone.

      The creepiest people are wondering if they can fit in the skin suits of the entire family and how to make that work.

        • geekl33tgamer
        • 8 years ago

        Are you on a day release? Stick your tin foil hat back on….

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 8 years ago

          Just finishing where ssk started.

          Tin foil hat refers to seeing governmental abuse everywhere – not that you don’t see insanity as common in your own species. You fail at metaphors.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            i really just meant that the dudes on her talk about how they want to get with the nerd chicks.

            • destroy.all.monsters
            • 8 years ago

            Regardless the more meta “be careful what you put on the internet” point should be made.

            She could have left it at “my children” but I think naming them was unwise. How long will it take for someone to look up what school they go to? What their father’s name is? Wedding, divorce records? Not long.

            I know it’s natural for mothers to want to put their children in pics in their office – and on their wallpaper. I question the value of doing so online, even in a walled garden like facebook, or entrusting it to microsoft. And make no doubt by naming her children in this the subtext is you can trust microsoft. We’ve seen how well that went for Sony’s customers.

            Clearly this is an appeal to the average consumer – and the average consumer is as likely to be a woman as a man. These privacy and safety concerns are understated – and I think it’s a terrible precedent.

            Anyway given my sense of humor it was a natural progression for me

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