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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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