Windows 10- Microsoft account vs Local account

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<Sangeeta Sarkar replied>

"Microsoft account" is the new name for what used to be called a "Windows Live ID." Your Microsoft account is the combination of an email address and a password that you use to sign in to services like Outlook.com, OneDrive, Windows Phone, or Xbox LIVE. If you use an email address and password to sign in to these or other services, you already have a Microsoft account—but you can also sign up for a new one at any time.

An administrator/Local account is a user account that lets you make changes that will affect other users. Administrators can change security settings, install software and hardware, and access all files on the computer. Administrators can also make changes to other user accounts.

Using Microsoft Account you will be able to access all the apps and other programs that requires you to login with the Microsoft Account. You can Create multiple number of user account according to your requirements.

I would suggest you to follow the below link on Microsoft account and Administrator account and check if it helps to resolve your issue

    Your reply is not entirely accurate, and is certainly very confusing.  The grouping is not "Microsoft account vs. Administrator account".  A user account can be any combination of a Microsoft vs. Local account and an Administrator vs. Standard account.  I expect better from a Microsoft employee!

Administrator account Standard account
Local Account Default in Windows 7 and earlier; user can install programs and make system changes Default for additional users in Windows 7 and earlier; user cannot make system changes, and can install only certain software
Microsoft Account Default in Windows 8 and later; user can install programs and make system changes; they sign in with their Microsoft password, and the account is synced with the Microsoft Store. Default for additional users in Windows 8 and later; user cannot make system changes, and can install only certain software; they sign in with their Microsoft password, and the account is synced with the Microsoft store

Now to answer the original questions:

Microsoft Account

  Pros:

  • You can use the Windows Store and install apps.
  • All apps automatically sign into your Microsoft Account, and will not prompt for your credentials.

  Cons:

  • You are forced to login with your email password, which, unlike your easy (or non-existent) Windows login password should be a long and complicated password because it can be hacked at 24/7 from the Internet.  However, this password makes unlocking your computer needlessly complicated.  The other option is a PIN, which is much less secure than even a weak password.
  • Because your password changes and the Microsoft Account involves signing into Microsoft servers, your computer may become unusable if your Internet connection goes down or you're in a place that doesn't have WiFi.  As a computer technician, this is a huge nuisance for me (they give me password, machine can't connect, password doesn't work).
  • Anybody who your share your Windows login password with (coworkers, computer technicians, friends, family members) now know your email password and can hijack your Microsoft Account because the passwords are the same.  People are shocked when I bring this information to their attention.
  • A lot more of your personal information and computer usage habits are sent to Microsoft on a regular basis, and they are tied to your Microsoft Account, which has your name, emails and any other activity you do that involves Microsoft.
  • Your full name and email address are known by Windows, readily accessible to any program running on your PC (including viruses, which will gladly add it to spam lists), and trumpeted on your computer's login and lock screen, not exactly desirable if you don't want all your coworkers to know your personal email address.
  • Some settings will sync between all your devices, which may be undesirable.  For example if you want taskbar autohiding enabled on your tablet but not on your desktop.
  • Is confusing for administrators setting security permissions, because all the account names change to email addresses, but internally still work as account names.

Local Account

  Pros:

  • Secure.
  • Is more private.
  • Always works, regardless of Internet connectivity.
  • Can have any name/screen name you wish, instead of sharing your email address to everyone who walks by your locked computer.
  • Can have any password you wish, and it is totally separate from your (hopefully) secure email password.

  Cons:

  • Can't use some apps.
  • Apps that do work require manual sign-in one by one.
  • The app sign-in dialog tries to trick you into converting your Standard Account into a Microsoft Account.

    Bottom line: If you're not planning on using the Windows Store or any of the apps, avoid a Microsoft Account at all costs.  Most of the apps are junk anyway.

    If you wish to use no logon password and have your computer boot directly to the desktop, click Start, type "netplwiz", press [Enter], and untick Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.

Thanks Techie007L

Your well thought, well stated answer has verified what I thought was the case with Microsoft accounts since they were thrown at us with Windows 8.1 or 10 or whenever it was. I believe it is an attempt to increase participation and usage of their proprietary software and worlds up in the clouds.  IOW "If those little users are going to use Windows then they darn well better enroll, buy, use, exist in more of our products!"

Thank you for the clarity of this post!

Dwilkows

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    Without knowing exactly what you did, my guess is that you converted your existing Microsoft account to a Local account using the Sign in with a local account instead option in Settings -> Accounts.  If so, it asked you for your Microsoft account password, and then asked you for a new password to assign to the newly converted Local account.  Now you sign-in with that new password, but your desktop icons, documents and other customizations are all still intact.  Launching certain apps (like the Windows Feedback app) should bring up the Microsoft account sign-in dialog.

Techie,

Hi, I just ran across this thread. My son has a fairly new Win 10 desktop computer. When we bought it we set it up using the "live" account (old terminology but easier to type, I'll be using it a lot), with my live sign-in as Administrator and a live sign-in regular account for him. This way we could use the parental controls features of Win 10, limiting his use length and time periods (no middle-of-the-night surreptitious gaming).

He figured out how to circumvent these controls by creating local accounts he could use that were not governed by the parental controls - he figured out my admin password to do this, I believe. Last night I caught him at it (still gaming past the parental curfew) and made him show me how he did it. 

At first I tried to find the local accounts by following the path you outlined above. The "Sign in with a local account instead" is VERY misleading - I think anyone who saw that would think they were looking for local accounts, not converting their live account into one. At least that is what I thought. However, after clicking it and starting down that road, it did give a message that it would now have to sign out of my live account. That made me suspicious and was not what I wanted, I just wanted to see the local accounts that were on the machine, which are not visible in Settings... so I Canceled the process.

So far so good. Now I Googled about local accounts in Win 10, found out about "net user" and how to use it, ran it as administrator, found the local accounts he had created, and deleted them, leaving only Administrator, Guest, and Default Account in existence.

Now things turned ugly. Edge no longer ran, Settings no longer ran. I tried a Restart and came up to a login screen of what now appears to be my account, but turned local - no email address, but displays my name and photo, which could have only come from my live account. However, it did not allow me to sign in using my live password, or any other password I have ever used with my live account. It also does not let me attempt to use any other user name, live or otherwise, to sign in. I'm not sure what I have done, but I can't figure out how to log in anymore to fix things.

Before I screw it up even further (if that is possible) time to holler "uncle" and ask for help. How do I get back to the state where only live accounts are allowed and exist? Did I delete some sort of local "shadow" account tied to the live account?

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    I'm not exactly sure what he did, although it sounds like you either accidentally made him an administrator too early on, or as you guessed, he guessed your password.

    Anyway, from your description, it sounds like you deleted too many accounts—your account and his good account included.  I'm not sure how you were able to delete your own account, though!

  1. You need to password protect the default Administrator account.  If it had no password, he might be able to log on to it via Advanced Startup Options and use it to create himself new accounts.  Press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Del], click [Change a password...] and follow the prompts to change the built-in Administrator login password.  Remember, this is not your account.  This account is special—no UAC, and unable to run most apps (including Edge); it is only supposed to be used for repairing the computer.
  2. You need to create a new user account for yourself.  From an administrative command prompt, execute net user "GliderPilot" /add (replacing GliderPilot with your name).  Then execute net localgroup administrators "GliderPilot" /add (again, replacing GliderPilot with your name).  Sign out, and sign in with your new account.
  3. Use the Settings app to convert your new account back to a Microsoft account.  And then use the Settings app to create a child account for your son.
  4. Once the user accounts are recreated, see if your (and his) personal files have reappeared in their documents folders.  If not, you should be able to pull them from the C:\Users\ folder, under the original account names.  I can help you with that too if needed.
Dear Microsoft, please make Windows 10 functional, pretty & intuitive, not boring, clumsy & buggy!

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Thanks Techie. That is all good information and I'm sure it will come in useful at some point. However, with Win 10, it appears that the good old Ctrl-Alt-Del does not work from the login screen. It appears that I can't get past the login screen to do anything at all.

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Just as an additional comment, I don't believe that I deleted any Live accounts... unless those show up under "net user" (under different names than the Live name) as well. In that case I may well have hosed myself. However the three default accounts are there - I just don't know how to get to them.

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Last feedback - I tried twenty ways from Sunday to get to the Boot Setup menu. When restarting the machine it says to use the F12 key. But that doesn't work... I try tapping it, holding it, etc throughout the bootup process and it still boots straight to Windows and the locked-out login screen. Thus I can't change the boot order to try and boot from a CD or USB. I'm making a wild guess that the USB keyboard hasn't been initialized yet before the window where F12 is accepted closes. I've tried different keyboards, different USB slots, and even different keystrokes (using all the other BIOS keystrokes from other machines I've once had). 

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Just as an additional comment, I don't believe that I deleted any Live accounts... unless those show up under "net user" (under different names than the Live name) as well. In that case I may well have hosed myself. However the three default accounts are there - I just don't know how to get to them.

    Sorry for the delay getting back to you.  I had to wait overnight as Microsoft's servers were having trouble serving the Media Creation Tool, and in the morning I discovered Windows 10 ate my pending (and nearly completed) post.  Thanks, Windows Update!  So I'm typing it all over again now.  Sometimes I just hate Windows 10.  It's certainly the most disrespectful version of Windows yet.

    Anyway, I realize that you can't log in at all.  Yes, the net user command shows all user accounts, both local and Microsoft ones, so the accounts that were on the PC are certainly hosed.  Microsoft accounts usually show up with cryptic names with numbers after them, unless you create them as local first, and convert later.  So there should have been two of those.

    The good news is that there is still a way to create a new user account so you can log in and get going again.  Unless you have a Windows Vista or later Windows Setup disc lying around, you will need to create Windows 10 Setup media in order to boot the machine offline and change a couple files.  It seems that you're somewhat technically inclined, so this shouldn't be too hard:

  1. Using a functional PC, visit the Microsoft Windows 10 download page, and click [Download tool now].
  2. Execute the downloaded Media Creation Tool.
  3. Accept the license agreement (you won't be installing Windows 10, and if you were, the PC already comes with an embedded license key, so you're in the green either way).
  4. Select Create installation media for another PC and click [Next].
  5. Verify that the correct language is selected, as well as Windows 10 and 64-bit (x64).  If you need to correct something, untick the checkbox to unlock the options, and then make the needed changes.  Click [Next].
  6. Next, you need to decide what media type would be easiest for you.  The options are DVD (ISO file), or USB flash drive (at least 4GB, and it will be formatted/erased by Setup).  Make your choice and follow the prompts to start the download and create your media.  The download will be about 4 GB.  Depending on your Internet speed, that could take a few minutes to several hours.  The DVD is easier to boot from (oftentimes will boot automatically simply if inserted), while the USB is easier to create (and most people have one).

Last feedback - I tried twenty ways from Sunday to get to the Boot Setup menu. When restarting the machine it says to use the F12 key. But that doesn't work... I try tapping it, holding it, etc throughout the bootup process and it still boots straight to Windows and the locked-out login screen. Thus I can't change the boot order to try and boot from a CD or USB. I'm making a wild guess that the USB keyboard hasn't been initialized yet before the window where F12 is accepted closes. I've tried different keyboards, different USB slots, and even different keystrokes (using all the other BIOS keystrokes from other machines I've once had). 

    This could be an issue.  There's still a good chance that it would boot a bootable DVD simply if inserted, but it's not a guarantee.  Does the PC have a PS/2 port on the back?  If USB legacy support was disabled in the BIOS, a USB keyboard may not work until Windows starts, while a PS/2 keyboard would work fine.  Newer PCs usually don't have a PS/2 port or a BIOS option that would break USB keyboard functionality.

    If you're aware of changing the boot order and/or USB legacy support BIOS options in the past, you could try resetting the BIOS (unplug the PC, find the appropriate jumper on the motherboard, switch it over to the reset position for 15 seconds, switch it back, plug the PC back in and turn it on).

    You've probably tried this already, but turn the PC off, start rapidly tapping the [F12] key, and power the PC back on while continuing to tap [F12].  If it's an HP, try the same with [Esc].  Keys I'd be sure to try are [Del], [F1], [F2], [Tab], [F8], [F9], [F10], and [F11].  The window of opportunity is certainly closed by the time Windows starts booting.  On a UEFI machine, that's right before the balls animation starts.  On a legacy BIOS machine, that's when the OEM logo disappears and is replaced with the blue Microsoft logo (and balls animation).  At this point, it's too late and it will take another power/restart cycle (the window of opportunity is often longer with a power cycle).

    Another possibility: If you've got another functional PC in the house, you can remove the HDD from this PC, and connect it as an additional drive to that PC to make the necessary file changes (exactly what all I will describe later, once these preliminary steps are out of the way).

    Yet another possibility: If you crash the PC (by unplugging it) while Windows is booting, next time you boot, Windows should give you a Recovery Options screen.  Unfortunately, this probably won't help much if you don't know the Administrator password.  (You could try asking your son to see if he knows what it is!).  Anyway, if you can get to the Command Prompt (Troubleshoot -> Advanced options), we can make the file changes from there too.

Dear Microsoft, please make Windows 10 functional, pretty & intuitive, not boring, clumsy & buggy!

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Problem solved. The trick was that this was a gaming computer and is festooned with USB ports. We tried each port in turn until we found one that is primary; with the keyboard plugged into this one, we could access the boot setup menu via F12 and allow a USB boot (The USB also had to be in the same port). Once this was accomplished, we downloaded a program to create a bootable USB drive with a password clearing application on it. That allowed us to clear out and recreate the admin password, then I could reactivate just his and my Live Accounts. They retained their passwords, since those were on the net. All is well now. Thanks for all the help! This was quite a learning experience. Needless to say, I'm keeping the bootable USB drive!

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We are happy to hear that your concern has been addressed. If you have any other concerns in the future, feel free to create a new post.

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@Jarius Tol should not mark this entire thread as "solved" because one user, GliderPilotNH, was able to solve his personal issue.  His issue was not central to the thread itself (though his solution to his unique issue was technically interesting).

The most helpful response to the question first posed was that of Techie007L on September 7, 2015.

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Last updated May 13, 2021 Views 29,847 Applies to: