Friday, January 17, 2014

Microsoft Accounts and Windows 8 – A Rant

In a nutshell, any email address can become a Microsoft account just by “registering” it with Microsoft (MS). Almost any live, usable email address is acceptable. But since we talk about MS it actually is not quite that simple; there are, for lack of a better word, implications.

Any email address with or issued by any MS service is a Microsoft account. Some of these services are Hotmail, Microsoft Passport, Microsoft Live, MSN, Outlook email service, .NET Passport, Member Services Passport, Messenger ID, Windows Live ID, Xbox Live ID, Zune/Zune Pass ID, Windows Phone and SkyDrive ID. To name only the most well known ones.

I documented my opinion about MS accounts already in October 2012 in my blog post “What does Microsoft want to do with Windows 8?”.

Have you ever set up a new Windows 8 computer? Or, even worse, updated from Windows 8 to 8.1? MS goes through quite some trouble and IMHO actually tries hard to literally trick you into setting up Win8 with a MS account. I wrote here in some detail about the tricks MS uses.

I smell a rat and my opinion voiced in “What does Microsoft want to do with Windows 8?” has only been confirmed by MS' shenanigans and seemingly desperate attempts to make us use a MS account.

With establishing a MS account you get automatically some GB of “free storage space” on SkyDrive, MS' cloud storage service. Again, that sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Like in “free is always good”. For the home user “cloud storage” is nothing but a glorifying name for a File Hosting service.

It may only be me but I am troubled by getting sucked into using SkyDrive. In May 2013 I documented my personal take on cloud storage; IMHO much more revealing is what the rest of the world thinks about this.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know that there are advantages to cloud storage and I use it to some extent.

The brighter side is that it is fairly easy to avoid all the implications of MS accounts and cloud storage, even when using Windows 8. Win8 can be set up to work nicely with a conventional local computer account without any direct connection to MS. And it works very nicely in desktop mode, just like we have gotten familiar with during the last 20 years. 

The main reason that MS gives for all this is that you can log into your MS account from many different computers or tablets or smart phones and you will have everywhere “your” desktop, the sane apps and programs, your individual settings and even via SkyDrive the same data files. Sounds almost too good to be true, right?

Smart phones are telephones with lots of added computer like capabilities and very small touch enabled screens.

Tablets are easily portable media consumption devices with added computer like capabilities and relatively small touch enabled screens.

Computers can be more or less of all of the above plus I can get work done on them. I can not write this blog on either a smart phone or a tablet! So far at least computers usually do not have touch enabled monitors (screens).

And frankly, do you know how heavy your hand gets when you stretch your arm forward only for two minutes? Thank you Microsoft, but I DO NOT WANT to be forced to stretch my arm and work with my fingers on a computer monitor; and so do literally all of my customers.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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