Microsoft Offers One Sign-In Experience to Rule Them All

Posted on August 3, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Microsoft Consumer Services, Mobile, Office 365, Windows 10 with 19 Comments

Microsoft Offers One Sign-In Experience to Rule Them All

Microsoft is redesigning its account sign-on experiences for both consumers and businesses in an effort to make them more efficient and consistent.

“We’re continuing to make progress on converging the Azure AD and Microsoft account identity systems,” Microsoft’s Alex Simmons explains. “One of the big steps on this journey is to redesign the sign-in UI so both systems look consistent. Today I’m happy to announce that this updated design is in public preview.”

As you may know, Microsoft offers separate cloud-based account types for individuals and for businesses. Individuals can utilize a Microsoft account (MSA), while businesses users have Azure Active Directory (AD). These account types are, in fact, completely separate. But both account types are designed to provide similar services, such as cross-device settings sync and repositories for apps, games, media content, file storage, and more. Also, you can link an MSA to an Azure AD account, and you can sign-in to Windows 10 with either type of account.

To date, Microsoft has provided different experiences when you sign-in to an MSA or Azure AD account on the web. So this week’s preview is a final step towards a consolidated sign-in experience that will be consistent between both account types. So those who have both—virtually all Azure AD account holders will also have an MSA for their personal use—will see a more consistent experience going forward.

As an individual, you can now see this new sign-in experience by visiting any Microsoft site online and signing in with your MSA. For example, the image at the top of this article is from today.

For Azure AD users, the new sign-in experience is now in preview. So you will need to opt-in to the preview the first time you are asked for your credentials.

Either way, the new sign-in experience provides a new “paginated” experience, meaning that you enter your account ID (email address) first and then some credential—a password, an app-based authentication, or whatever—separately, on a second screen. This change seems to have rankled some users on my Twitter stream, but as Microsoft explains, it’s more secure and has a higher sign-in success rate.

The new UI works on both desktop PCs and mobile, and it will be brought to all Microsoft online sites, including the multi-factor authentication experience—in the coming weeks. Microsoft plans to complete the shift to this new experience by the last week of September.


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