If you have tested one of the public preview versions of Windows 8, you my have logged into an account with your Windows Live ID. This is one of the new features of the operating system to consolidate services. You may have also read about Microsoft’s plans to ditch the Windows Live name, and merge several account related services into the new Microsoft Account service.
Existing Windows Live users will keep their login credentials and all associated information, but get on top of that access to new features that Microsoft plans to introduce with the Microsoft Account. As Microsoft notes:
Microsoft account is our identity service for individuals who use Microsoft products and services. You can use your Microsoft account to sign in to your Windows 8 PC, and then use the same account to check your billing for services like Xbox LIVE, Zune, and the Windows 8 app store.
Screenshots of the new Microsoft account profile website were published a few days ago on the Liveside website highlighting some new features, and a new metro-style layout.
This highlights the new minimalistic design that Microsoft will roll out across many of the company services. A click on the name in the top right corner of the screen shows linked accounts, and shortcuts to account settings and the profile.
The privacy settings basically define information sharing and visibility options. It is a simplistic privacy model with only four options which obviously is less confusing than Facebook’s or Google’s privacy system.
A new feature is the ability to add accounts to the Microsoft Account. Doing so enables users to perform various activities, like chatting with their Facebook friends, having access to their Flickr photos and videos, or seeing their Google and Linkedin contacts.
Keep in mind that all features and options are subject to change, as Microsoft is still working on the new product. As always, we will keep you updated with news once they are released.