Sign up for a Microsoft Account for Windows 8

Whether you’re signing in to Windows 8 for the first time, trying to access some Start screen apps, or just trying to change a setting, you’ll eventually see a screen similar to this one.

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That screen appears because Windows 8 introduces a new type of user account. You can sign in with either a Microsoft account or a Local account. Each serves different needs:

  • Local account: This account works fine for people working with traditional Windows programs on the Windows desktop. Local account holders can’t run many of the Start screen apps bundled with Windows 8, including the Mail app. Nor can they download new apps from the Windows Store.

  • Microsoft account: Consisting of an e-mail address and a password, this lets you download apps from the Windows Store and run all the bundled apps in Windows 8. You can link a Microsoft account with your social media accounts, automatically stocking your address book with your friends from Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. (Plus, you can access both your own and your friends’ Facebook photos.)

You can sign in with a Microsoft account in either of two ways, ranked according to simplicity:

  • Use an existing Microsoft account. If you already use Hotmail, Outlook, Live, Xbox Live, or Windows Messenger, you already have a Microsoft account and password. Type in that e-mail address and password at the screen shown and then click the Sign In button.

  • Sign up for a new Microsoft account. Click the Sign Up for a Microsoft Account link and Microsoft takes you to a website where you can turn your existing e-mail address into a Microsoft account. (Signing up for a new Microsoft e-mail address is a better option, however, because it lets you use Windows 8’s built-in Mail app.)

If you’re signing into Windows 8 for the first time, and you don’t want a Microsoft account, you’ll see a Cancel button. Click Cancel, and the next screen shows a button that lets you sign in with a Local account instead.

But until you create a Microsoft account, the nag screen will haunt you whenever you try to access a Windows 8 feature that requires a Microsoft account.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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