The Preface – before you install Window 8 (CP)

By now we all have heard the Windows 8 consumer preview (CP) is available for anyone to test and play with.  They don’t really call it a Beta, I’m assuming because they know there are some features they plan to add and some kinks to work out.  I’ve been using Windows 8 since the Developer Preview (which was a severly crippled first take).

If you happen to have an old pc laying around that you can scrap the disk and want to have some fun and play with Windows 8 (CP) you can read about it and download here: Windows 8 CP

I had several old pcs hanging about and ended up installing on an AMD Phenom (Quad core) w/6G of RAM (Thanks Chris).  I put in a budget AMD (ATI) 6540 Radeon for video and an ATI HDTV tuner in it as well as I will use this box as a DVR.  With Media Center I can pick up 30 some HD/SD channels of the air.  This is attached to  a 23” Acer Touchscreen.  I ended up reinstalling on a Terabyte SATAII drive because the original was IDE.  I figured by now I am quite comfortable with the OS and later this year when the OS is released if I can just upgrade to the retail package then life is good.

Local or Microsoft Account during set up?

A clean install is quite fast coming in at less than 15 minutes on my rig.  One thing to know when installing Windows 8 is you will be asked to create an account at set up.  You will be given two options: A Microsoft account or a Local Account. Which ever you choose the account will be an adminstrator on the box.

A Local account is just like any Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 account (profile), where you log into the computer and do your business.  A Microsoft Account is a Live ID that you have with Microsoft.  It behaves like a Local account but also logs you in online to give you some really cool features.  Totally free, it is your space in the Cloud.  If you have a Hotmail account you probably already have a Live Account.  Likewise if you have an XBox you have a Live ID.  I have had a Live ID since it was called Microsoft Passport way back.  No harm no foul.

You are given the choice to Create a Live Account during Windows 8 install.  The choice is yours; Use/Create a Live account or Create a Local account.

About Live ID. Many Assume Live and Hotmail are the same thing, because MS is always pushing Hotmail.  This is not the case.  You can have a Live ID and no Hotmail Account.  I for example have my EarthLink email associated with my Live ID, I may have a Hotmail account but I have never been in it.  We had social networking and Cloud (before it was the word of the day) with Microsoft Spaces well before FB or G+ thought of doing it.  We had Friends, Blogs, and Photo sharing.  You can get to a live account from almost any computer or Windows Phone, so your stuff is available to you anywhere.  With a Live Account you have Hotmail if you choose, Live Messenger, SkyDrive (25G of Storage and Office Online which is web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) and Live Calendar. All online, all free.

Now, I am not trying to sell you on a Live ID as how you do things does not concern me. What I would tell you is there are apps in Windows 8 and on Windows Phone 7 that draw from a Live ID. Apps that surely make my day easier.  A Live ID is seperate (Obviously not required) of Windows 8 but Windows 8 can associate with it.  Having a Live ID will let you keep some Windows 8 settings out on the cloud (sync across computers, I believe).

Anyway, love or hate having one, a Live ID integrates in to Windows 8 and Windows Phone nicely.

With my Live ID, Online I have set up simple connectors for Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Flickr, Smugmug and other social sites.  It was actually quite simple.  When I browse to my Live Homepage I have something similar to the wall of FB, where I can see activity from any of my friends/contacts.  If one of my friends posts a picture on Flickr I see it there, If one of my friends posts on Facebook I see it, if a friend on facebook is having a birthday…I see that too.

Where am I going with this?

Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7 have an app called “People”. I click on this people tile and Windows 8 let’s me see my contacts from all the different social sites in one place.  I can click on “What’s New” and see all activity, I can click on one of the activities and and comment on the post.  I can click on a person and see the info that they entered on any of the social sites.  The same is true on my Windows Phone, all of my friends from all the social sites become contacts and if they entered a number I can call them. I see all their status updates on my phone.    The creepy thing is the Calendar, the Live Calendar gets info from all the social sites that I have connected and puts them in on place…My Calendar is full and I haven’t even entered anything.

As to SkyDrive, which is similar to Dropbox, I can copy files/photos from any computer to my SkyDrive and then and access them from anywhere including my Windows Phone.  I can even edit them online (Computer or Phone) using the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote.  I have a shopping list on my SkyDrive that I share with Shawn.  She can access the list from her phone to see what we may or may not need.

The Choice is yours

All that being said, again you can choose to create a Local Account or Use an existing/Create a Microsoft Account when setting up your Windows 8 machine for the first time.  If you choose Local, applications like People and Calendar will not show you all the cool stuff that is available out there.   Also you will not be able to sync across computers with a local account.  If you do enter your Live ID; Windows 8 runs off a does a whole bunch of cool stuff for you. 🙂 It populates the People app and the fun begins.

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