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There are a number of people who have more than one email address and want to manage these multiple email addresses from Outlook.com. Linked accounts were introduced in 2006 as a way to quickly switch between different accounts each with their own email address. Over the next couple months, we will stop supporting linked accounts and instead help people move to a more robust and secure way of managing multiple email addresses: aliases.
There are many reasons people have multiple email addresses, some of the most common include:
We know there are lots of good reasons to have multiple email addresses. We also believe it's important to provide a more robust, secure and durable solution to meet your needs.
Why make this change? Well, a lot of things have changed since we introduced linked accounts. Most importantly, your email address is also often how you sign into the account that is your "digital identity." For example, your Microsoft account unlocks a broad array of experiences ranging from Windows to Xbox to Office365 to Outlook.com and more. Increasingly, devices allow people to connect their various accounts (Microsoft account, Facebook, Twitter, Apple ID, etc.) to their devices and have it all "just work."
That means that you want to have one Microsoft account that lets you light up your Microsoft devices and services with your stuff: your gamer score, your email inboxes, your calendars, your people, and your files, as well as to connect to all the networks you care about. That's certainly the system we're building, and why we've designed aliases to make it easy to have multiple email addresses (for receiving and sending) connected to a single Microsoft account.
On the flip side, we've increasingly found that linked accounts are less robust, and less secure than using aliases. With linked accounts, you can sign in to Outlook.com on the web and then switch to any other linked account without entering a password. It's a handy feature.
Unfortunately, this same feature benefits the bad guys, too. We've found that quite often, people who use linked accounts keep their primary account's security info (including password and proofs) up to date, but don't lavish as much care on their secondary accounts. It's easier for a malicious party to compromise one of those secondary accounts, which gives them full access to your primary account. Note that if we detect suspicious activity in your account, we automatically unlink accounts to try to help prevent this abuse, but we think we need to go further.
We believe that aliases provide a more robust and secure capability for managing multiple email addresses. You can send and receive email from different addresses and keep it all organized the way you like. And all of this is tied to a single Microsoft account that has your latest and most up-to-date security info.
A couple years ago, we began the process of delinking linked accounts and encouraging people to move to aliases. We got good feedback about some issues, and have been hard at work fixing these gaps. To give you a smoother transition, we've added two new features:
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.
In the next few days, we'll send email about this change, including the steps you should take, to everybody currently using linked accounts. Soon after, when you sign in with a linked account, you'll see a notice with the same info. We want to make sure that you aren't surprised by this change.
If you don't use linked accounts, there's nothing you need to do.
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:
In late July, we'll begin unlinking linked accounts.
I know it's a hassle to make changes when you have a setup that works. We wouldn't ask you to do this if it wasn't important for your security. Thanks for partnering with us to help keep you (and your neighbors) more secure.
--Eric Doerr, Group Program Manager, Microsoft account
I've three different Microsoft Accounts linked. And I've 4 aliases in one account and few in other accounts. According to this change, I'll be forced to delete some of my aliases to migrate to this new model right?
i have linked new outlook to old hotmail account, does this change any thing for me?
do i loose any skydrive storage..
Need way to merge my Hotmail account (Windows ID) with my Outlook account. (They are currently linked.)
So here's a scenario: I have a base Hotmail account.
I have a custom domain account associated with that Hotmail account. This custom domain account is my Microsoft account.
Now how do I consolidate this setup to your new alias based method?
I used linked accounts to manage my family's accounts quickly. Is there a system setup that I can use for this instead?
Alias??? I mean how many eMail address offer MS in the past? 20? Name@Hotmail.XYZ, live, Outlook, MSN,... If MS had offer only ONE eMail address + . Country (like gMail, Yahoo and others, but this way? :/
Eric said, "With linked accounts, you can sign in to Outlook.com on the web and then switch to any other linked account without entering a password. It's a handy feature. Unfortunately, this same feature benefits the bad guys, too."
True. But the same can be said for your decision to remove a 'login-only' username. By allowing any alias to replace the main account username for logins, security is (albeit slightly) lessened, thus benefitting the bad guys.
How about allowing users to set their aliases to NOT be allowable as alternate login usernames, so that there is one-and-only valid login username (i.e. the account name) which may be kept secret ? :-)
What about skydrive? each member of my family has their own Microsoft account, and we have them linked. We use it mainly to access each other's skydrive instead of having to share everything.
In principle I think that makes sense. In practice, there are WAY too many little things that make the kind of setup you suggest a non-starter for anyone who wants to handle multiple email accounts. Here are some examples:
1) There is no easy way to have separate "Sent Item" folders for your different email addresses
2) There are MANY emails that one receives that DON'T have ones email address in the "To" or "CC" field, i.e. like pretty much any mailinglist. Those cannot be sorted properly into different inbox folders in this setup.
3) One cannot send emails with one of the aliases as the "From" setting from Outlook 2013. I'm not even talking about picking the proper from address depending to which email I respond which is really what would need to happen.
4) Same on Windows Phone (at least 7), the whole aliases thing breaks down there.
Let me also say this: you should tell us what the plans with the "move alias" feature that you allude to are BEFORE you switch off linked accounts. How I will go forward depends on that and the minimum you should do if you announce such drastic changes with such short notice is to give us a clear road map of things that might also affect how we react to this.
And another question: what is the difference between an alias and a send-and-receive account? Is the only difference that the former is on one of the three official domains, i.e. @outlook.com, @hotmail.com or @live.com? Would be good to clear that up, it is very confusing.
@pradeepviswav - you shouldn't have to delete any aliases. In your situation, I'd recommend that you pick an account that you use the most and forward all the other email addresses to that account.
@santosh - You won't lose any SkyDrive storage or anything else associated with the linked accounts. All that changes is that you will login to each account with a password from now on.
@Tom Stephenson - We would love this capability too! Stay tuned.
Other reasons for linked accounts;
-only 5 devices can be authorised to one Microsoft account - it's not only professional reviewers that find that limit too low
-it does not work well to have your Microsoft organisational account and your Microsoft personal account have the same email address but you need to use both frequently & signing in/out is sometimes less than seamless
-you have a service that used to insist on its own account that now accepts a Microsoft account but how do you merge that older account into the Microsoft one without losing history?
-sacrificial secondary accounts let you split potent accounts with credit card details from test ones without having to sign in/out/shake it all about; aliases will be on an account with payment details.
security is good but I'm personally sad to see linked accounts go