In a previous article for Windows 7 User Accounts, I discussed the different types of user accounts and how to create new accounts. Windows 8/8.1 shares some similarities with the Windows 7 user accounts but there are also differences. In this article, I will looking at Windows 8 user accounts and the differences from Windows 7.
Types of Windows 8/8.1 User Accounts
In Windows 8, Microsoft introduced a new type of account. This account is an online account called a Microsoft account. The other account type used for creating accounts used in Windows 7 has been renamed to Local account.
Local accounts are used only on the computer the account is created on whereas Microsoft accounts can be used across multiple computer as the account settings are stored online. Users of local accounts can only access data on that single computer. Both Microsoft and local accounts also use the same Standard and Administrator types identified in the Windows 7 User Accounts article but there has been an addition to these two account types. The addition for the available account types is the Child account. In Windows 7, the ability for adding parental controls was tied to the permissions for Standard accounts. If parental controls were needed, users needed to go to the specific account and add the restrictions to that account. In Windows 8/8.1, child accounts are used for that same purpose but they have their own account type now.
Note: If you haven’t read the Windows 7 User Accounts article yet, I would like to recommend reading it or at least the Account Types section. That section discusses the differences between Standard and Administrator accounts in Windows 7 but the same information applies for Standard and Administrator accounts in Windows 8/8.1.
Microsoft accounts have several differences from local accounts. One change is the need for a password when using a Microsoft account. Users of local accounts can choose whether or not to use a password when logging in. Users of Microsoft accounts must use an email address and password when logging in. The online access from using a Microsoft account allows data, some applications, and personal preferences to be synchronized between different computers such as how my desktop background changes on my laptop after I have changed it on my desktop PC and how my internet favorites are the same on both my desktop and laptop PCs. A Microsoft account also allows access to cloud storage such as OneDrive. Microsoft accounts allow access to the Windows Store. For anyone planning to use Windows 8/8.1 on multiple computers, a Microsoft account is likely the best choice for users.
Creating, Editing, and Removing New User Accounts
As there are two types of accounts available for use in Windows 8/8.1, I am going to go over how to create both account types. When Windows 8/8.1 is first set up, users have to create an account as part of the initial configuration for the PC. The steps for that are a bit different than they are for creating user accounts after Windows 8/8.1 has been installed. I will be going through how to create user accounts after Windows has been configured. In addition to showing how to create Microsoft and local accounts, I am going to look at how to add a child account. I also will show how to edit accounts, set up and remove assigned access for user accounts, and remove user accounts.
Creating a Local User Account
To create a local account on a Windows 8/8.1 PC, please use the following steps. By default, any accounts after the first account was created on the PC are created at Standard type accounts.
1. Move the mouse to the bottom of the display of the right side so that the charm bar appears.
2. Once the charm bar is open, click on the Settings option.
3. Once the Settings screens opens, click on PC Settings.
4. From the PC Settings Windows, click on Accounts.
5. In the Accounts Windows, click on Other Accounts.
6. On the Other Accounts window, click on Add an account as shown above.
7. On this screen, select the type of account to create. In this case, we are going to select the option to Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended).
8. After clicking on the Sign in without a Microsoft account (not recommended) link, Microsoft still tries to get users to use a Microsoft account. Click on the Local Account button. Note that Microsoft has the Microsoft account button highlighted as default. Hitting the Enter key will create a Microsoft account instead of creating a Local account.
9. On the next screen for adding a user, enter the user name for the new account. If a password will be needed, please enter the password and confirm the new password. Also, if a password hint is used, the password hint needs to be entered on this page.
10. On the final screen for creating a local user account, there is a question regarding whether or not this account is a child’s account. If it is a child’s account, click on the checkbox and then click on the Finish button. Otherwise, just click on the Finish button to create the account.
Creating a Microsoft User Account
To create a Microsoft account, please use steps 1 – 7 in the Create a Local User Account section above and then continue from that point using the steps below.
1. The one difference to the above steps will be the account type. In Step 7 above, users have the option to either enter an email address if they already have a one they use for a Microsoft account or they can click on Sign up for a new email address if a new Microsoft account is needed. If creating a new Microsoft account, please skip to step 5 as the next few steps cover how to create the account when using an existing Microsoft account.
2. If using an existing Microsoft account, the process is easy to create the new account. Enter the email address used for the Microsoft account into the Email address field and then click Next.
3. After the account information is confirmed with Microsoft (to verify the account exists), a confirmation window for adding a user will appear. There will be a question asking if this is a child’s account. If it is a child’s account, click on the checkbox if needed.
4. Click on the Finish button to complete creating the Microsoft account on the PC.
5. If creating a new Microsoft account, click on the link just below the Email address field called Sign up for a new email address.
6. A new screen will appear for entering some information needed for creating the Microsoft account. The information needed includes first and last name, a password and password confirmation, and the country or region. It also requires an email address. Two options are available for emails. The first option is to create a new email on outlook.com or hotmail.com. The second option it to use a different email. To use the first option, enter the user name you would like. For the second option, click on the link beneath the email address field called Or use your favorite email. Once the information has been added, click on the Next button.
7. The next screen asks for security information that will be used for account security purposes. It includes birth date, gender, country code, phone number, and an alternate email address. After filling out the information, click the Next button.
8. The next screen communication preferences has a CAPTCHA verification field and also has two checkboxes asking if the user wants to let Microsoft Advertising use their account information and for sending promotions offers from Microsoft. Enter the CAPTCHA text and then click the next button after unchecking the checkboxes (if you don’t want to let Microsoft use your information).
9. The final screen verifies the new account for signing in on the PC. It has the checkbox asking if the account is a child’s account that needs checked if this is a child’s account. After confirming the information, click on the Finish button to create the account.
Creating a Child Account
To create a Microsoft account, please use steps 1 – 7 in the Create a Local User Account section above and then continue from that point using the steps below. The one difference to the above steps will be the account type. In Step 7 above, click on the link for Add a child’s account. After clicking the Add a child account link, users are asked if they want the child to use an email account or not. Child accounts with email addresses use the same account creation process described in the Creating a Microsoft User Account section. Child accounts without an email address use the same process used for creating local accounts. An alternate option for creating the child account is to create either the local or Microsoft account and then make sure the checkbox asking if the account is a child account is checked before finalizing the new account. Either option will enable the Family Safety monitoring for this account.
Family Safety is a tool accessed from the Control Panel. For child accounts, Family Safety is turned on by default as is activity reporting. To view activity reports, click on the View activity reports link below the account name. The Web Filtering section allows parents or other adults to restrict what websites the child account can access. Time Limits are used to set the times the account can be used. Game and Windows Store app restrictions limit access to Windows Store apps or games on the PC. Desktop app restrictions identifies what apps can or cannot be used by the child account. For more information on configuring the Family Safety settings, please see the Windows 7 User Accounts article as these settings are similar to the settings described in the Family Safety/Parental Access Controls section.
Editing the Account Type for Existing Accounts
Editing accounts is sometimes needed after the account is created to change the permissions available to the account from Standard to Administrator or to set limitations on access by changing the account type to a Chile account. Please use steps 1 – 5 from the Create a Local User Account section to load the Manage other accounts windows.
1. Click on the account to edit permissions for.
2. Click on the Edit button for the account that needs modified.
3. After clicking on the Edit button, the following window will load. From the dropdown list, click on the account type needed and click the OK button.
Removing an Existing Account
1. Starting from the Manage other accounts screen, click on the account to be removed.
2. Click on the Remove button.
3. Next, a confirmation overlay will appear asking users to confirm they wish to delete the account. Be aware that all data related to this account will be deleted. If the data is needed, copy it to another location before deleting the account.
Setting up User Accounts for Assigned Access
To set up an account for assigned access, please use steps 1 – 5 from the Create a Local User Account section to load the Mange other accounts window. From there, please use the following steps to set up assigned access for specific user accounts. Please note that setting up an account for assigned access only allows a single Windows Store app to be designated for use by the account. This access appears to be limited in how beneficial it can be although it would help if a parent only wants their child to be able to access a specific program from the Windows Store such as a game or educational app.
1. From the Manage other accounts windows, click on the link to Set up an account for assigned access.
2. On the Assigned access screen, click on the Choose an account option.
3. An overlay window will appear asking which account to use. Click on the account that will be set up for assigned access.
4. Next, click on the Choose an app option from the Assigned access screen. One note on setting up accounts for assigned access, the account needs to have been logged in previously so that the initial configuration is completed. Otherwise, a message that there are no apps available will appear.
5. An overlay window will appear asking which apps the account can access.
6. Select the app for assigned access.
7. After selecting the app, restart the PC for the access changes to apply to the account.
Remove Assigned Access from an Account
To remove an account from having assigned access to just one app, please use the steps below. Please use steps 1 – 5 from the Create a Local User Account section get to the Manage other accounts screen to start.
1. From the Manage other accounts windows, click on the link to Set up an account for assigned access.
2. On the Assigned access screen, choose the account that needs the assigned access removed.
3. Click on the link for Don’t use assigned access.
In this article on Windows 8/8.1 user accounts, I discussed what account types were available, how to create the different accounts, how to change the account type, and remove accounts. I also looked at how to set up and remove assigned access. I hope that the information helped answer any questions for Windows 8/8.1 user accounts but if there are any questions, feel free to comment below or email me at the link in my bio.