Windows Enterprise Desktop

Sep 28 2011   2:33PM GMT

Windows 8 User Profiles: Roaming in the Cloud?

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Wow! There’s a fascinating new post on the Building Windows 8 blog from Monday (9/26/2011). It’s entitled “Signing in to Windows 88 with a Windows Live ID,” and it explains how Windows 8 users can employ a Windows Live ID as the OS log-in so they can synchronize application settings, preferences, and “environment stuff” across multiple Windows 8 machines and devices.

In a nutshell things work as explained in this bulleted list that I lifted directly from the Live ID blog I just cited:

  • Associate the most commonly used Windows settings with your user account. Saved settings are available when you sign in to your account on any Windows 8 PC. Your PC will be set up just the way you are used to!
  • Easily reacquire your Metro style apps on multiple Windows 8 PCs. The app’s settings and last-used state persist across all your Windows 8 PCs.
  • Save sign-in credentials for the different apps and websites you use and easily get back into them without having to enter credentials every time.
  • Automatically sign in to apps and services that use Windows Live ID for authentication.

The key phrase that impelled my blog title appears a little later in this post, is in a later paragraph that explains in more detail what kinds of settings are captured and preserved (“… your lock screen picture, desktop background, user tile, browser favorites and history, spell check dictionaries, Explorer settings, mouse settings, and accessibility settings, among many others…”). It says that all of these things “… are now associated with your Windows 8 account and stored in the cloud.” But alas, this capability apparently applies only to Metro style apps because the blog further states: “If you want to roam your settings for desktop apps then you can continue to use the mechanisms available for roaming profiles and client side caching of files available with Active Directory and Windows Server.”

Dang! I see the emergence of a two-tier system here, and a powerful impetus to move users onto Metro style applications. It will be VERY interesting to see how this all plays out, and to see if application developers take the bait and start building Metro style interfaces for most common and popular applications. Only time will tell, but this should be fascinating to watch and learn from.

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