The Microsoft Account that we use these days has actually been around for a while and has been known under several different names:

  • Microsoft Wallet
  • Microsoft Passport
  • .NET Passport
  • Microsoft Passport Network
  • Windows Live ID

Each one brought together ideas that have now become what we know as a Microsoft Account and that account is, pun intended, a passport to everything Microsoft related.

With just a single Microsoft Account you will now bring all of these services under one log-in:

  • Hotmail (shifting to
  • Messenger (shifting over to Skype)
  • SkyDrive (7GB of cloud storage)
  • Windows Phone
  • Xbox LIVE

On top of those services your Microsoft Account also gives you a centralized location to view billing data for all of the premium services you subscribe to and purchases you make under the Microsoft umbrella.

With the introduction of Windows 8 last year the Microsoft account takes on an entirely new and unique role if you have made that move to Windows 8.

If you opt to use a Microsoft Account to log into any installation of Windows 8 it will provide the following enhancements to your Windows 8 experience:

  • Your friends’ contact info and status automatically stay up to date from places like Hotmail, Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • You can get to and share your photos, documents, and other files from places like SkyDrive, Facebook, and Flickr.
  • You can buy and download apps from the Windows Store, and use them on up to five PCs running Windows 8 or Windows RT.
  • Your personal settings are automatically synced online and between the Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs you use. This includes stuff like your themes, language preferences, browser favorites and history, and content for Microsoft apps and services.

There is no better experience when you move from one Microsoft Account enabled Windows 8 machine log-in to another. You will need to install the apps you use on the other machine but once you do that, and it is easy to get that list of apps from the Windows Store, the info is shared across installations so you do not have to add user information again.

Any accounts you added to one Windows 8 installation such as Facebook, Flickr or Twitter are also synched across installations and of course your cloud storage in SkyDrive is automatically available as well.

If you are tightly connected to a current email address you have there is no need to abandon it.  You can create a Microsoft Account with any valid email address and it works as seamlessly as an email address from @Hotmail, or does.  You can even create an alias for that email address if you want to at

One other recommendation for when you create your Microsoft account. Make sure you add additional security information to your account so it is easy to gain access to it in the future if it gets hacked or you get locked out for some reason.  I can not tell you the number of people who have not done this and end up losing full access to their information because they had not taken these precautions.

To avoid that situation I recommend you check out this great support page at Xbox Support – Update the security information for your Microsoft account. Even though it is on the Xbox Support pages it is applicable to any Microsoft account.

Taking these simple steps on any Microsoft Account will save you headaches and heartaches down the road.

So what is keeping you from joining the connected world of a Microsoft Account?

Source: Your life, connected – Microsoft