Do I want a Microsoft Account?
June 19, 2018 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I just got a new computer, yay! It’s Windows 10, and it’s asking me to sign in or create a Microsoft account. I don’t have one. Are there privacy concerns or other reasons not to create one? Looks like offline accounts are still an option, and my googling isn’t turning up anything helpful.
posted by stoneweaver to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm one of those people who does not hate Microsoft. I have one and use it to sync their free online things like Word and OneNote with my iOS devices. It hasn't killed me so far, I haven't had to spend money, and these days I trust Microsoft more than I trust Google. Others will be along shortly to vehemently disagree.
posted by sageleaf at 5:15 PM on June 19, 2018 [8 favorites]


I have a Microsoft account for OneDrive, but don't use it to log into my computer and that setup works just fine.
posted by kbuxton at 5:27 PM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


The reason they're offering it is because they want to sell you storage space on OneDrive, track you across devices for advertising purposes, and get you to buy applications through their windows store as a form of platform lock-in. If you're ok with that, go for it. It's not hugely different from using a local account. I think the best additional feature is the ability to remotely find or lock your device.
posted by mattamatic at 5:29 PM on June 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


One benefit is if you have multiple devices. For example, some games I can buy on XBox or Windows Store and get access to on both XBox and Windows. If you only have a single Windows or XBox or Windows Phone or whatever device and don't buy anything via Microsoft Store or use OneDrive/etc, I don't think it will make any difference either way.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:35 PM on June 19, 2018


The one useful thing is that a Microsoft account can help you recover your Windows password. That's not a thing I need currently, so I ignore it. If you ever set up encryption on the hard drive, back up the key in several places.
posted by theora55 at 6:06 PM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


It simplifies the activation process if you ever have to rebuild your computer (say, due to a failed hard drive). Your activation would be tied to your Microsoft account, and when you logged in again on the rebuilt computer it would recognize you and activate Windows automatically for you. That's not, like, an earth-shattering improvement, but it did come in handy for me.
posted by fedward at 6:22 PM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


As with anything, putting your account on the cloud means the provider is using it for their own purposes, not yours.

On the other hand, I find the privacy settings in Win10 to be a lot more transparent than those in any Google products, and MS doesn't seem to be nearly as aggressive in monetizing your data than Google, as their product is still something you pay for (as opposed to Google, where yes, you're the product).
posted by Ickster at 7:28 PM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I went ahead and made an offline account for now. If I ever want the additional functionality, I'll go back in and convert it. Honestly, I just feel weird about my credentialing being through MS servers. I don't have any good reason, but your answers sort of crystallized that for me. Thank you!
posted by stoneweaver at 8:09 PM on June 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I used my mom's Microsoft account to reset her laptop password so I could get into it after she died, so it was helpful for that. If you choose not to set it up, do your family a favour and figure out a different way for them to retrieve your passwords so they can tidy up and lock down your digital life. Nobody likes to think about it, but nowadays it's something I guess we all have to deal with.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 5:17 AM on June 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have a microsoft account for when I need it (almost never) under a fake name.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:12 AM on June 20, 2018


If you found that to be of concern, then along with the privacy concerns associated with being intimately tied to a Microsoft Account also be sure to remember that basically all the privacy defaults are set wrong on Windows. When it asks you, you have to toggle all the switches off. There are also tools such as Spybot Anti-Beacon that help manage privacy issues. Not everyone wants their OS advertising things at them. The latest stupidity is that Win 10 Pro (note "Pro") has been advertising "Microsoft Family" in addition to all the games tiles, so if you're actually a professional that just wants a professional functional desktop, you have to work really hard to get it, and apparently Microsoft's concept of "professional" is an office full of Candy Crush players, which probably explains a lot about their business outlook.
posted by jgreco at 1:34 PM on June 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


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