Getting Started With the Microsoft Ecosystem
As I was thinking about what I wanted to post during 2021, I thought it may be good to go back to the basics. I’ve been in the Microsoft ecosystem for so long that it’s a second nature for me. For many people though they may have only dipped a toe in, used Windows only for work, or are genuinely curious about what it would look like to jump full in. This is the post for you. The wonderful thing about Microsoft’s ecosystem is it is not a walled garden approach like some other ecosystems. You can truly use as much or as little as you want. You can mix and match across companies because while many are a jack of all trades none are a master of all. For this post I am creating a brand-new Windows 10 PC that will utilize a newly created Microsoft Account (the central piece and authentication mechanism for all things Microsoft).
Microsoft is a software + services company after all and Windows is best experienced with the supporting services which go along with it. For this series I will be looking at Windows, OneDrive, Office and Family Safety for consumers.
Without further ado let’s get started!
Once you boot up your shiny new PC, or repurpose an old one, you will be presented with some Windows Setup choices which will then lead you to a screen to enter an email, phone or Skype ID to add your account to this Windows PC. You can use any existing email or phone number you want, for this demo I will be creating a brand new email with Outlook.com which you can do right from the Windows Setup screen.
After creating the account I suggest creating a PIN for use only on the device. A PIN allows you to login JUST to this one device but makes it easier to sign into this PC, or switch between accounts for different family members.
There will be some more setup choices about diagnostics and privacy which will then lead to the first decision about being in the Microsoft Ecosystem: OneDrive. OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution and is bundled with Office subscriptions but also is available for free with limited capacity (5GB). Utilizing OneDrive will allow your files to be saved locally AND to the cloud, which can be accessed or synced with other devices including Windows, Mac, iOS or Android phones.
After choosing this there are a few screens that will upsell you on Microsoft Office Family, or Xbox Gamepass for PC depending on options selected, or any OEM bundles that came with your PC. You may easily bypass any upsells or make decisions later for other services. One you have completed these settings Windows Setup will configure your PC.
We Made It!
Behold the new desktop! After completing setup there is a nice toast notification that gives you the chance to get started with Microsoft Edge (the new Chromium based one). I ran the quick setup and enabled syncing across devices.
As part of the sign in Windows Settings has a little header space that ties into your Microsoft Account. This will show you status for Windows Update, Microsoft Rewards, and OneDrive. It will also allow you to check out your Microsoft Account settings, etc.
Finally when going to File Explorer you will notice the little cloud icons on Desktop, Documents, and Pictures. This is a result of the choice made during setup to use OneDrive for “My Documents”. The folders look exactly how they would on a normal Windows PC but they are now powered by OneDrive which will allow syncing, and viewing these files from within a web browser. I will explore OneDrive in Part II of this Getting Started Guide.
I could have done all these steps using an existing email, so don’t fret if you don’t want to create a new email – it is not a requirement! For this demonstration I wanted a clean email and a fresh start. As I mentioned at the beginning the Microsoft Ecosystem is as much or as little as you want it to be. The traditional Windows Setup is still available for those who don’t want any of the extra services. However as you will see in later posts there are benefits to enabling some of these services.