Would not it be nice if you could just log on to any computer with Windows installed and directly work with your custom settings and preferences? This is apparently becoming reality with the release of Windows 8.
The upcoming Microsoft operating system will feature a roaming option that can be enabled to synchronize preferences and settings with the cloud.
Native data syncing means that users can log on to every computer running Windows 8 to work with their preferences and settings, provided that the roaming feature is not disabled on that computer.
The list of personal settings that get synchronized with the cloud are the following:
All options are selectable individually, so that only the data that you want to synchronize will be available when you connect a Windows 8 box to the cloud.
This opens up new and interesting options. Previously when you wanted to work with a similar set of settings, you needed to use third party tools to synchronize the settings, or configure the operating systems on each device and computer manually.
With the roaming feature, that is no longer necessary for core settings and preferences. Imagine traveling to Japan and synchronizing a computer in an Internet Cafe with your cloud settings to change the display language from Japanese to your language.
Obviously, you would have to sign in to your Windows account and the machine in question would have to support the feature. You can also make use of it when you purchase a new PC as core settings could be carried over this way.
The Roaming options are accessible via the User Accounts control panel applet. Network options are listed on the same configuration page to enable roaming on paid networks and low bandwidth networks.
Since those options exist, Windows should have options to identify those types of networks. It should not be to difficult to identify low bandwidth networks, as it can be done with a basic speed test. Paid networks on the other hand may be difficulty to identify, and it will be interesting to see how Windows 8 will handle that identification.
This ties in well with the rumor that users can use email addresses and passwords to log on to the system, as those could be used at the same time to provide the login credentials for the cloud synchronization feature.
I personally think that the roaming feature has been long overdue, and that a lot of Windows 8 users will benefit from the feature. Not all users want data of theirs to be stored in the cloud and that is the most likely reason why the feature is not turned on by default.
Roaming profiles don't sync all user data with the cloud but it does sync a lot of it including customization, credentials, and language settings.
Update: The feature is now part of Microsoft Account, a new online account for all things Microsoft.
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