One of the new features coming in Windows 8, which is already present in the Consumer Preview, is the ability to sync some of your PC settings when you log into different Windows 8 systems using your Microsoft Account which was/will be formerly known as Windows Live ID.
The Building Windows 8 blog wrote about this last September shortly after the Developer Preview was released and has a lot of details on the benefits that using your Microsoft Account will give you in Windows 8.
As you can see below this is the settings page in Windows 8 where you can turn this feature on and off and also pick which areas you want to sync between your PC running Windows 8. You get to this by swiping in from the right side of the Start Screen, tap on Settings in the Charms Bar and then tap on the More PC Settings in the lower right hand corner of the sidebar.
The list of options you can turn on and off for synching include:
- Personalize – Colors, backgrounds, lock screen, and your account picture.
- Desktop personalization – Themes, taskbar and more
- Ease of Access – High Contrast, Narrator, Magnifier and more
- Language preferences – Keyboards, other input methods, display language and more
- App settings – Certain settings in your apps
- Browser settings – History, bookmarks and favorites
- Other Windows settings – Windows Explorer and mouse settings
- Sign-in info – For some apps, websites, networks and HomeGroup
The other day I told you about upgrading my Windows 8 Tablet (Acer Iconia Tab W500) with a new mSATA SSD and that process also resulted in me reinstalling the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on it.
That install went just fine and signing in with my Microsoft Account aka Windows Live ID did things just as advertised above but there were a few wrinkles I think could use some improvements and maybe even an addition or two.
In no particular order;
- Sync Picture Password Settings – this may very well be security related and because the data about is sensitive maybe they do not want to sync that to and from the cloud.
- Lock Screen Picture – the sync works and shows your selected Lock Screen picture however that photo is not stored in the Pictures directory where it was on the other machine. I found this out because I use the same picture for my Picture Password and when setting up my Picture Password on the new machine it is not present in the Pictures directory. I think the Picture Password photo should be synched to its same location on the new machine.
- Start Screen Customizations – during setup of the new system you select your preferred color accent and pattern for the Start Screen but the Start Screen tiles are the default ones installed by Windows 8. I understand some people may set a tablet up differently than their desktop as far as the Start Screen layout goes however, it would be nice to have the option to sync the Start Screen configuration either after an install or also as part of normal synching between machines.
- Windows Store Apps – since the information is available and tied to your Microsoft Account then the option should be provided to reinstall any apps you have purchased or downloaded between machines. Maybe an alert through the Windows Store tile to show there are apps to be installed on that machine to sync it with the original one and vice versa.
Have you noticed any areas that you would also like to see get synched between your Windows 8 machines? Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can add to the list.