Microsoft had been expected to roll out two-factor authentication for its accounts, and the company officially announced its plans today. The software maker will roll out an upgrade to Microsoft accounts over the coming days to enable an optional two-factor authentication service to improve account security. The service will protect an entire Microsoft account using a verification process with codes. Similar to Google, Microsoft will also let users use app passwords for services, like Xbox, that don't currently directly support two-factor authentication.
While Microsoft has long supported additional authentication methods for access to certain parts of its accounts, this new two-factor authentication is being rolled out across the entire Microsoft account. This means accounts will be fully protected, regardless of what type of data is being accessed. In the past, Microsoft accounts would allow you to access a mailbox or other data without prompting for two-step verification.
A Windows Phone app to support the service is already available and the app supports a standard protocol for two-step verification codes, meaning you can also use it for Gmail and Dropbox accounts. Microsoft hasn't committed to an iOS or Android version just yet, but the company's web-based two-step system will support those particular devices. You can setup two-factor authentication over at Microsoft's account management page.