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One of the great new features of Windows 8, which debuts in 2012, will enable users to log on to their PCs using a Windows Live I.D. account. Originally created and marketed as a single sign-on solution for e-commerce or membership based Web sites, the Live I.D. service is now largely relegated to Microsoft’s own Web properties. But now it has been extended to Windows—and third party applications—not just Web sites. If the words “anti-trust” starts to ring a bell in your head, no need to worry. It is purely an option to utilize the Live I.D. (and now roaming) service account in Windows, and in no way are you bound to it in order to use your PC or newer Windows 8 Metro style applications.

But what are the benefits of using Live I.D. as a sign-on mechanism for Windows, you ask? They are numerous, particularly if you want to make your life easier with respect to logging on to your PC, notebook, tablet and/or Windows Phone and having your entire desktop or UI settings essentially the same. There is nothing more disconcerting than moving from one computer to the next and not having instant access to your favorite apps, shortcuts and folders. Microsoft hopes to clear all of that up with one single sign-on using your Live I.D. This advanced roaming feature for non-domain based computers is a welcome change and benefit to Windows consumers or users the world over.

And, while we’re on the subject of roaming, you can use your Live I.D. with Windows domain based networks too, provided the network administrator gives you the privilege to do so. Admins can take a granular approach to what can be stored locally and what can’t, which is a nifty feature, to say the least. In addition, Windows “Metro” style apps will also having built-in roaming support as well, but older Win32 legacy apps will not. Note: Metro based apps will also allow SSO with your Live I.D., saving you time and effort in entering usernames and passwords repeatedly as you work or play on your PC.

Finally, a Windows Live I.D. allows you to leverage the security features built-in to the service. For instance, say you forget your password to Windows. In a normal situation, you would have to resort to using questionable hacking tools to break back into it or worse still, completely re-install the system in order gain access to it again. However, if you used a Windows Live I.D. as your credentials, you could simply have Microsoft send you the password, similar to the way most Web sites or cloud applications work today with password/username reminders. 

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