For those venturing into Windows 8, one of the first surprises during the installation process is a request for your Microsoft account.
Providing your account name is optional, but doing so has numerous implications that extend beyond Windows 8.
What, exactly, is a Microsoft account?
Simply put, a Microsoft account is an e-mail address that’s been registered with Microsoft. Almost any address will do. But like everything with Microsoft, the real answer is more complex — there are, ah, nuances.
If you have an e-mail address created by Microsoft — @hotmail.com, @live.com, @outlook.com, @msn.com, etc. — you have a Microsoft account. For the past 15 years, Microsoft’s been issuing e-mail addresses under various names: Hotmail, Microsoft Passport, MSN, .NET Passport, Member Services Passport, Messenger ID, Windows Live ID, Xbox Live ID, Zune/Zune Pass ID, Windows Phone, and SkyDrive ID. I’m sure I’ve missed a few. All of those terms are now obsolete; they’re all just Microsoft accounts.
Many users are confused about the e-mail addresses used for MS accounts — they might assume that the address must contain one of the aforementioned Microsoft e-mail sites. But you can register any active e-mail address for a Microsoft account. Some users mistakenly believe they must give Microsoft the password for a registered e-mail address. Not true.
Another misconception is that you need a Microsoft account when setting up Windows 8. Again, not true. But here, Microsoft stacks the deck, encouraging you to either sign up for a new Microsoft-issued e-mail address or to register a current e-mail address as a Microsoft account. But you don’t need to do either. More about that later.
Here’s how to turn a normal e-mail address — say, WilliamGates385@yahoo.com — into a Microsoft account:
- Go to the Windows Live ID sign-up page. (Yes, I know that Microsoft calls it Microsoft account, but the page is still in the live.com domain.)