Microsoft's new unified log-in experience is now in public preview

Microsoft is continuing to work toward its ultimate goal of converging its Azure Active Directory and Microsoft Account cloud identity services.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is taking another step toward bringing together its Azure Active Directory (AD) and Microsoft Account (MSA) identity services.

(Image: MJF)

Today, Aug. 2, Microsoft is making available as a public preview a new, unified log-in screen/experience for those using either or both services.

(A couple of readers noticed Microsoft doing some A/B testing of this new unified experience a couple of weeks ago. Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela verified via Twitter that this was the new screen users would be seeing for a number of Microsoft's services.)

Microsoft is redesigning both the Azure AD and MSA sign-in pages so they have a consistent look and feel. I saw the new login today going to Outlook.com and embedded a screen shot of what I saw above.

The new design asks users for their username on the first screen and for their password on the second screen. Microsoft officials said in a blog post today that the two-screen sign-in provides "a notably higher success rate" using this approach and makes it easier to introduce new forms of authentication like phone sign-in and certificate-based authentication.

For those using Azure AD, users will see a banner giving them an option to opt-in to use the new experience. This is meant to give businesses time to verify their company branding, if used, works and to update their related documentation and training materials to reflect the new design.

Microsoft's road to merging Azure AD and MSA has been a long one. In 2015, Microsoft took what officials considered its first step toward merging its two identity services, with the release of a public preview of the new converged programming model.

Update (August 8): As Petri.com and a few other sites have noted, the Azure ID change has created sign-in problems for some Office 365 users due to insufficient heads-up.

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