With Windows 8, its preferable to sign into your PC with a Microsoft account—or what we still call a Windows Live ID—to take advantage of SkyDrive-based settings sync and deep integration with several new Metro-style apps and other capabilities. But what about those people who sign in to their PC with a corporate domain account? In this tip, I’ll explain how can still utilize this integration.
There are two methods, which offer varying levels of capability. First, you simply run each of the many connected apps and sign in separately; this would let you utilize the apps, but won’t sync settings from other PCs, through SkyDrive, to this PC. Or, you could connect your Microsoft account to your domain account, which has the added benefit of adding the PC-to-PC sync capability.
Method 1: Sign in to apps separately with your Microsoft account
Once you’ve signed into the PC with your work-based (Active Directory) domain account, run a connected app—Mail, People, Messaging, Calendar, Music, Video Xbox LIVE Games, and so on—and you’ll be prompted to sign in to your Microsoft account.
This works fine on an app by app basis. But there are two issues.
First, you’ll need to manually sign into each connected app in this fashion, since the Microsoft account sign-in works app-by-app. That’s a lot of apps to sign into.
Second, this method doesn’t provide PC-to-PC settings sync. If you visit the Sync Your Settings area in PC Settings, you’ll discover that you can only enable this feature, with a domain account, by connecting it to a Microsoft account. This is indeed the preferred approach.
Method 2: Connect a Microsoft account to a domain account
Once you’ve signed into the PC with your work-based (Active Directory) domain account, navigate to PC Settings. You can do so via the Settings pane (WINKEY + I, Change PC Settings) or via the Charms bar (WINKEY + C, Settings, Change PC Settings).
Then, navigate to Users. As you can see, there’s a handy button named “Connect Your Microsoft Account.”
Click this to do so. In the following unique screen, you’re prompted to choose which parts of Settings Sync will be enabled. By default, all settings are chosen, and this is usually what you’ll want.
Click Next and you’ll be prompted to enter the email address of your Microsoft account/Windows Live ID, and then the related password, and the security verification info. These steps are identical to the process you’d undergo during Windows Setup if you had signed in with a Microsoft account in the first place.
When you’re done, you’ll notice three major changes.
First, the “Connect Your Microsoft Account” button in PC Settings, Users has changed to “Disconnect Your Microsoft Account.”
Second, settings sync will be enabled, which you can verify by visiting PC Settings, Sync Your Settings.
And third, all of the connected apps in Windows 8 will now sign-in automatically.
Voila! You’re done.
Note: I confirmed with Microsoft that corporate administrators could use Group Policy to prevent users from connecting their work accounts to a Microsoft account in this fashion. I’ve only tested this procedure with a non-locked-down domain account of my own, so your mileage may of course vary.