Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system will come with the optional ability to sign in using a Windows Live ID, allowing users to easily synchronize their settings, applications and other preferences across any machine they sign into. We’ve known this for a while, but Microsoft today dove deep into the details, explaining how the system will work.

One example: Someone watching a video in a Metro-style app on Windows 8 will be able to stop playback and then pick it up at the same point when they log in on another machine.

Stuff like that is great, and Windows 8 promises to be a better experience as a result, but the big question with these kinds of things is always the trade-off in terms of privacy, and how companies take advantage of logged-in users and the resulting treasure trove of personal data.

Here’s what Microsoft’s Katie Frigon says on the topic of privacy in the post today …

With Windows 8, we want to put you in control of how your data is used and what you want to sync between Windows 8 PCs. When you choose to sign in to your Windows 8 PC with a Windows Live ID, only a small amount – your first name, last name, and display name — are shared with Windows. Windows does not use any of your other profile data. Your profile data stored in the cloud is released to apps or websites that you allow to have that data. While any Metro style app can leverage Windows Live ID for their own sign-in authentication, they must always ask you first if you want to allow access to particular details from your profile.

Even with those protections, the new system could be a boon for Microsoft’s online services. According to the post, people who sign in to Windows 8 with their Windows Live IDs will be able to automatically log into online services that use Windows Live ID when they’re using the new OS. That means Microsoft’s Hotmail, Messenger, Bing, etc.

I’m curious to hear what people think about this. Are you comfortable with the new Windows login mechanism? Assuming you end up using Windows 8, will you use a Windows Live ID to log in?

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  • Privacy

    As long as you are provided a choice to login with Live ID or not, I don’t see a problem and a huge benefit. Privacy is about choice when it comes to stuff like this. 

  • Guest

    I like this idea. It’s like Facebook’s application platform if it were actually useful. Thank you, Microsoft, for showing that your “cloud” engineers are far smarter than your “cloud” marketers.

  • Anonymous

    great initiative from microsoft.
    I think they have great ideas with regards to cloud utilization.

  • Raging_river

    Could Facebook and Google learn from this? Customer choice, explained well in advance of launch, builds trust and undoubtedly will increase uptake.

  • dLeet

    The WindowsLive ID mechanism is an inevitable shift as society moves from a device centric computing environment to a identity centric computing environment.  With the recent boon of smartphones and tablets resulting in many consumers owning multiple computing devices, shifting to a ID based sync system is just a matter of time (in fact, Google already does it!).  As long as the end user has to approve each new use of their data and has a way to easily and clearly manage what they’ve approved, I don’t see there being a problem.

  • Jason Gerard Clauss

    I keep a high security (offline) computer and a low security (online) computer. I may use Live ID on the low security one.

  • Torojunker

    Don’t you have the same feature with Apple and Google?

    I like it, because i use different Microsoft systems that require the Windows Live ID

  • Zelf

    No, no I will not use a Live ID. This is just bad, allowing an outside source to maintain your computer login, as well as allowing it unfettered access to your data. Sure you get to say what data gets synched with the cloud, but a hacker that gains access to your account can change that to synch everything, then just wait for you to log in and give them all of your data.

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