We saw this coming when back in April we exclusively reported that the new two-factor authentication feature in Microsoft account does not support linked accounts, but Microsoft has made it official – that “linked accounts” feature is no more on Microsoft account. According to a blog post on the official Outlook.com blog, Eric Doerr, Group Program Manager for Microsoft account, announced that the feature will be discontinued in late July. Microsoft cites security issues with linked accounts, introduced back in 2007, as the main reason why they are discontinuing the feature. Of course, Microsoft is also at the same time discouraging the use of multiple accounts for the same person, given now that the Microsoft account is now used in almost every Microsoft consumer product out there. Instead, the company recommends users to use the recently improved “alias” feature to manage multiple e-mail addresses.
For those who are currently using linked accounts, below is a quote from the blog post regarding what users can do before the change happens in July:
If you do use linked accounts, now’s a good time to make sure each account has updated security info, and that you know the password for each one. It’s much easier to do this now while they’re still linked. But even if you forget your password later, you can always reset it.
If you’re interested in consolidating email, here are a few additional things you can do:
- Set up email forwarding, so you can read and write all your email from one account. Note: Normally you have to sign in to an account every 365 days to keep it active. Formerly-linked accounts are exempt from this requirement so you don’t need to visit them regularly.
- If you want to use additional email addresses with your primary account, set up an alias. You can use it to send and receive email, and even sign in.
The above information actually doesn’t help for those who has multiple accounts and would like to merge/consolidate email address and inbox into their primary account, and use them as aliases. Fortunately, the blog post mentions that the ability to somehow achieve this:
We’ve also heard from some of you that you’d like to just “move an alias” – move the email address and email from one account to another. We’ve heard you loud and clear. Stay tuned for more about this in the future.
There is currently no additional information regarding this “move an alias” option, and question remains whether or not your other data (such as SkyDrive files) and subscriptions (like Office 365 or Xbox Music) will be able to be moved as well – assuming you have these spread across different accounts. Let’s hope Microsoft comes up with a proper solution that will make this a smooth transition.