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Microsoft Account vs Local Account on Windows 10

PopooXibm asked on

When I moved to Win 10, I inadvertently set up a Microsoft Account. I have come to find that I could have a Local Account.

What is the difference?

What, if any, are the benefits of one over the other?

I'm the only user of this machine, and do little with it other then e-mail and occasional browsing.

I would like to be able to make the boot up and sign-in process as quick as possible because I do that daily.

If having a Local Account would do that I will switch if possible.

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The answered status icon Answer

    Actually, 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.  See the table below for an illustration:
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

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, I would recommend avoiding using a Microsoft Account to sign in.  Most of the apps aren't that good 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.  Note that this only works on a Local Account.

    If you're currently logged in as a Microsoft Account user and wish to convert to a Local Account (or vise versa), click the Windows/Start button -> Settings -> Accounts, and then click the appropriate link near the top (Sign in with a Microsoft account instead, or Sign in with a Local account instead), and follow the prompts to make the change.  Note that after switching to a Local Account, you may be asked for your Microsoft Account privileges when launching some apps for the first time after the change.  Be careful to avoid falling for the trick to convert your account back to a Microsoft Account.  There should be an option just to sign-in that app.

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