Microsoft Cloud Accounts are confusing; like Emo kids vs Scene kids confusing. Conflate the two and it will cause you one more headache that you don’t want to deal with. Unfortunately, with Microsoft, there is no one ring to rule them all with.
If they are so confusing, why bother?
It reduces the number of details you have to track. Microsoft Cloud Accounts synchronizes basic things like your passwords, themes, internet explorer settings, Windows Store apps, language preferences, and other windows settings. If OneDrive is setup, this will also sync your files between devices. It doesn’t sync all of your applications, yet.
At some point in the future, you’ll sign into windows devices and get all the apps and files that you have on other devices. If a device or hard drive fails, no issue. Replace the device or hard drive, setup your cloud account on your device, and it would just set everything up for you.
Windows 10 is making strides in becoming a platform that lets you take you profile almost anywhere. Technically, if you used a tool like chocolatey, you could have a new computer setup in a very short amount of time between using a Cloud Account, One Drive, and chocolatey to install all the apps and settings that Microsoft currently does not handle.
Microsoft Cloud Accounts come in two flavors:
– Microsoft Accounts (Strawberry). Consumer-focused, these accounts replace the Microsoft Live Accounts.
– Office 365 Accounts (Vanilla). Business-focused, these accounts are tied to Office 365 services.
Both accounts can be used with Windows 10. For an Office 365 Account to be used with Windows operating systems older than version 10, a business needs to set-up a hybrid on-premises (in house) network and domain and sync it with Office 365’s Active Directory. Yes, it is more work.
Microsoft Accounts interact with the majority of Microsoft’s consumer-focused products and then some and can be used to sign into Windows 8 and above. Microsoft lists services such as:
– XBox Live
– One Drive
– Microsoft Store
There is a 10 device limit for Microsoft Accounts.
Microsoft Office 365 Accounts
Office 365 and Windows 10 enables a cloud join, which is like a domain join, except that you’re joining an Office 365 domain that resides in the cloud rather than on local Active Directory server. In Windows 10 this is called an Azure Ad Join. The edition of Windows 10 must be Professional or above to cloud join to a cloud domain.
If you’re unfamiliar with domain joins, it’s basically a business-focused social networking conference for your computer devices that is invite-only. A cloud join is a business-focused social networking website that is invite-only.
The main benefit to this at the moment is that business users can sign into Windows 10 using their Office 365 credentials, can leverage the Microsoft Store for Business, and enables single sign on for most business related products such as portal.office.com.
This means that an employee only really has to remember two passwords: their Office 365 password and the password that opens their password manager. It also allows users to use single sign-on to portal.office.com using the Edge browser.
If a business is willing to spend more money on EMS, Enterprise Mobility Suite from Microsoft, then there are additional benefits such as dynamic groups, applying policy to a range of devices, and pushing applications to devices.
How to tell the difference
Many of the services will allow you to use either your personal or office account. If the service or application is visually appealing then you most likely need your Microsoft Account. If it looks like Outlook, it feels vanilla, or its hard to navigate as in lost in the middle of the Sahara Desert without a phone and compass hard to navigate, then it is most likely an app that requires your Office 365 login, (I’m looking at you Skype for Business and OneDrive for Business).