Microsoft’s Password Conundrum

MSCloudMicrosoft’s cloud-based tools are the most capable and sophisticated available for businesses. However, in the rush to provide cloud-based services Microsoft has created a new layer of complexity centered around passwords.

Organizational Accounts

If you subscribe to Office365, we have likely linked your on-premise Active Director-based user authentication system with Microsoft’s cloud-based system.  This means you have a [email protected] address which is synchronized (using a special server at your location and software tools which we manage) with Microsoft’s own copy of your user account database. This database – on both sides – tells your internal systems and Microsoft’s cloud services what you may access.

An organizational account is simple: you simply login to your own computer or Microsoft’s cloud-based services using the same [email protected] address and password.

This access extends to cloud-based applications such as:

  • OneDrive for Business (cloud-based file storage, formerly known as SkyDrive Pro)
  • Sharepoint
  • Exchange Online and more

Microsoft Accounts

The confusingly-named “Microsoft Accounts” are generally for access to Microsoft’s consumer-level services such as:

  • (formerly Hotmail, and no this is not the same as the business version of Outlook)
  • Bing
  • OneDrive (the basic consumer version, which is totally different from OneDrive for Business, but formerly known as SkyDrive)
  • Windows Essentials
  • (and in our case) the Microsoft Partner sites.

The problem with these accounts that is confusing to many is that they can also be [email protected] but this is a different login and password than your organizational account.

If you mix and match services (such as OneDrive for personal items and OneDrive for Business for work-related documents) you will likely run into this confusion repeatedly (I do on a daily basis!) – sometimes you’ll get a pop-up login asking you to re-authenticate to one of these services. Thus far, there is no clear distinction about which service is asking you to re-authenticate.

It’s still clearly a work in progress (which is why the Cloud is definitely not for everyone yet) but they are slowly getting there.

If you have questions about any of this please feel free to contact our support desk.