Microsoft has long supported a linked accounts feature for its Hotmail and Outlook.com service, allowing users to simply switch between Microsoft Accounts without having to enter passwords. The feature was originally introduced in 2006, but Microsoft says it plans to stop supporting it over the next couple of months.
Security fears led to feature change
Microsoft blames security for the change of heart, noting that users would often keep their primary account password up-to-date, but failed to regularly change the password on associated accounts. The software maker found that malicious users have been compromising secondary accounts to get access to a full primary account.
The decision to axe linked accounts comes shortly after the company introduced two-factor authentication for Microsoft Accounts. Two-factor authentication requires a Microsoft Account be standalone, rather than linked with other secondary accounts. Microsoft's alternative to linked accounts will come in the form of its existing aliases feature. You'll be able to forward all email from a secondary account to a primary one, with the ability to send email from another account.
Microsoft says it's also working on the ability to "move an alias," allowing users to move an email address and email from one account to another. "Stay tuned for more about this in the future," says Microsoft's Eric Doerr. Over the coming days users will be sent an email with steps required to move to an alias. Linked accounts will also be reminded of the upcoming change when they sign into a linked account. "In late July, we'll begin unlinking linked accounts," says Doerr.