Microsoft want to keep even closer tabs on you and what you do
As part of the process of installing Windows 8, Microsoft asks you to give the details of a Microsoft account that you will use when logging on to the machine. You can use any existing account you have with them – such as a Hotmail account or a Windows Live account – or you can create a new one.
Earlier this week I installed Microsoft Office 2013 on a Windows 8 machine using a product key just bought from PC World. Maybe I’m losing the plot, but I don’t recall ever previously having to “sign on” to a Microsoft account before being able to download the software and install it. This, however, is exactly what happened in this instance. I had specifically bought Office from a shop so that I wouldn’t be bothered by the complication of trying to buy a download with the client not present, and here was Microsft presenting me with the “gotcha” of demanding the user’s credentials at the download/installation stage rather than the purchase/download/installation stage.
What makes this particular development even more annoying in this instance is that the client and I had already had the discussion about the implications of signing on to a Windows 8 machine using a Microsoft account and he had decided to use the alternative, simpler, sign-on routine of using a “local” account. One would have thought that, having already opted not to link all of that machine’s activities with a Microsoft account, that that would have suggested that actions such as installing new software should be completed without tying anything down to a specific account.
Not a bit of it. Microsoft will still try and get as much information from us as they can. What they are actually saying is that you can not buy and use Microsoft Office any more without agreeing to tell them who you, the user, are. To my mind, that stinks.
Anyway, back to the point. Although it won’t stop Microsoft insisting on tying your purchases of their software to your account, you can – as mentioned above – sign on to Windows 8 using a “local account”. The option to do this when first setting up Windows 8 is not obvious (and I can’t remember how it’s worded) but if you miss it the first time, you can change to a local account at any time later:
- Go to Settings (the gear wheel in the list of icons that are stupidly called “charms” and which, equally stupidly, pop up when you scroll off a righthand corner of the screen)
- Click on Control Panel (near the top of the column that has popped up)
- Make sure that “small icons” or “large icons” are selected (see Figure 1)
- Click on “User Accounts”
- Click on “Make changes to my account in PC Settings” (see Figure 2)
- Click on “Switch to a local account” and follow the prompts
Just follow the same process if you want to switch in the other direction.
And there’s no need for you Mac users to be feeling smug: Apple make you jump through similar hoops when buying and installing their software. As with other things these days (such as mobile phones and tablets), Microsoft is just playing “catch up”.
PS: I mentioned the upgrade to Windows 8.1 in an earlier blog. I’m going to install it on my own main computer soon, but I’m going to do a full backup first. I’ll keep you posted.
PPS: Thank you to all of the readers who emailed me last week after I was blowing my own trumpet about three years of blogs. Onward and upward.