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Monday, June 17, 2013

The Hassles of the Microsoft Account

Microsoft did an excellent job at confusing customers when they launched the Microsoft Account with Windows 8. Customers are calling because they can't login to their computers because of a password issue, which was brought about by their confusion with the Microsoft Account.

Windows Live ID

The Windows Live ID is the old name of Microsoft Account.

In earlier versions of Windows like XP and 7, when a customer logs in to their computer, they type in their password. That's the computer password. In Windows 8, when you first turn on your computer, it will ask you to set it up and enter an email address. It will not ask for a password yet. It will let you click on Finish.

When you sign-in to that new Microsoft account, it will ask you to enter that email's password. It will not proceed if the (email) password is incorrect. If for some reason, there is no Internet connection, it will give the message:

Your PC is offline. Please sign in with the last password used on this PC.

Click on OK again and it will let you login to the computer, with the same password, even if you're not connected to the Internet.

add your microsoft account

Once the Internet connection is restored and customer changed the password of the Microsoft Account (say Password2) on the website, if he restarted the computer and login to the computer with Password2, he won't be able to login to the computer since it is still using Password1 (original password of the Microsoft email). I guess this is where the issue happens. Customer knows that they already changed the password on the Microsoft email but the computer is still using the original password when they set Windows 8 on the computer.

I guess this is the reason why customers are having issues logging in to the computer. Microsoft should have stated clearly that on the Set Up process or should have defaulted the Set Up to create a Local Account first and gives the option to switch to a Microsoft Account, not the other way around. I hope this is something that will be change in Windows 8.1 to avoid confusion with a Local Account (computer) and a Microsoft Account.

If an AOL email (or Yahoo) was used as the computer sign-in account, it will give the option to Set up a Microsoft Account. It will ask for:

  • New password (for the Microsoft Account, not AOL or Yahoo password)
  • Reenter password
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Country/region
  • ZIP code
  • On the next page, it will ask for more information like:
  • Birth date
  • Phone number
  • Alternate email
  • Secret question
  • Answer

You need to provide at least two types of security information to proceed – either Phone number and Alternate email or Secret Q&A with Alternate email.

On the Finish up page, you have the option to:

Enhance my online experience by letting Microsoft Advertising use my account information (unchecked by default)

Send me promotional offers from Microsoft (checked by default)

It will also ask for a CAPTCHA word before you could click on Finish.

I guess this is also where the confusion kicks in. If customer is always logged in to his AOL or Yahoo email and he doesn't type in his password often, then he might be typing a totally different password upon the creation of the Microsoft Account. Since this is a new Microsoft Account, it will accept the password even if it's not the actual password of his AOL or Yahoo email.

Once you're signed in to the computer with the new Microsoft Account, and you login to Outlook.com website using your AOL or Yahoo email, it will give you a message:

Call us overprotective, but we need to verify that xxx@aol.com (or @yahoo.com) is yours.

It will ask you to open your @aol or @yahoo email to verify the email for your Microsoft Account. After you verify the email, that is when you can begin using that email as a Microsoft Account on Outlook.com and be able to send emails from there. It will also let you use your Microsoft Account to sign in to the Microsoft Store and download free apps.

Most probably, this is also the reason why sometimes customers are having issues logging in to the computer because of a password issue. They are not aware that the computer can have a different password than that of the email address that they're using, regardless whether it's Outlook.com, AOL or Yahoo.

I hope my customers can read this blog post.

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