Windows Live sign-in page updated, users unhappy

By Tom Warren, on 8th Jul 11 3:22 pm with 46 Comments

Microsoft recently updated its sign-in page for services that utilize the company’s Windows Live ID authentication system.

The software giant explained the change in a blog post on Wednesday, days after the company completed the switch. Users of services such as Hotmail are now presented with a “streamlined page” designed to focus on one single account with a check box to “keep me signed in.” The interface differs to the previous one that would require two check boxes per account to remember the ID and password. Microsoft’s previous interface catered for users of multiple Windows Live IDs and appears to have angered that subset of customers.

“What a huge step BACKWARD,” said one commenter on Microsoft’s blog post. Other commenters were less forgiving. “How can you be so ignorant, user-unfriendly, tactless and arrogant,” asked one commenter referring to Microsoft’s suggestion that users should “consider creating a separate Windows user account for each person who uses the computer” if using multiple Windows Live accounts is a common activity. Microsoft’s delayed communication on the change and its approach has gathered around 72 comments on its blog post, most of them complaining about the switch.

Microsoft explained the old problems with its design and hopes that the new one will avoid any potential confusion for users:

  • Customer confusion: We got consistent reports from customers who were confused by the design. Not understanding which checkbox did what and as a result accidentally leaving account tiles at an internet cafe or a friend’s house were common complaints. Depending on your settings, sometimes you were signed in but still had to click the tile, sign-out didn’t always work as expected, sometimes you had to enter a password and sometimes not – it seemed random and confusing. To make matters worse, tiles only worked on Internet Explorer; other browsers always had the simpler experience.
  • Changing trends in device ownership: As more people bought laptops and smartphones (which tend to be used by just one person), we heard more feedback that the tiles just got in the way, and what people really wanted to do was to just get to the service without interruption. We knew from our telemetry that fewer than 2% of users were using the tiles, but 100% of our users were interrupted by them in the old design.
  • Consolidation on a primary account: Increasingly, customers are consolidating their Windows Live usage into one primary account. It used to be common for one person to have multiple accounts. As we’ve integrated Windows Live ID across other products like Xbox, Windows Phone, SkyDrive, and Office –the core account has become more valuable, and it’s become less necessary to switch between accounts.

Windows Live ID sign-in

  • Tim

    From my perspective, they fixed all the things that annoyed me about the old one. The tiles were useful, but the problems overshadowed their benefits, in my opinion. I’m fine with the change, though perhaps I’m the only one (or the only one vocalizing it).

  • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

    I’m fine with new look. And anyway, you can link accounts so you can switch without logging off:

    https://account.live.com/ManageLinks.aspx

    Though the service is unavailable now… I hope they bring it back…

    • http://www.winrumors.com Tom W

       Agreed, it doesn’t affect me (thanks to linked account) but appears to be angering a number of people. Perhaps those people don’t want to link their accounts though.

    • sunco

      “This suggestion (link accounts) is, of course, good for one person with multiple accounts and
      isn’t appropriate for a family of people each with one account of their own who
      share a computer – you don’t want to merge your email accounts for different
      people”

    • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

      Why don’t they get separate Windows accounts?

    • sunco

      I’m taking that answer as a joke.. I mean, some family members just want to check the email every  (lets say) 1 hour.. why they should change Windows user account just for that?

    • sunco

      I’m taking that answer as a joke.. I mean, some family members just want to check the email every  (lets say) 1 hour.. why they should change Windows user account just for that?

    • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

      It’s not hard – they can just switch user accounts by pressing windows key + l and clicking “switch user accounts”

    • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

      It’s not hard – they can just switch user accounts by pressing windows key + l and clicking “switch user accounts”

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      Well the answer is not a joke.  I think it’s important for people to learn the value and importance of having their own Windows account, especially now with the future of your Windows account simply being your Windows Live account.  Also, you don’t have to worry about this type of issue, logging in and out of email.

    • sunco

      For this particular scenario yes, is a joke. Why do i need to create a Windows account for every single family member ? That means wasted folders (Documents and settings), wasted resources when changing between accounts, etc.. Why that is more practicable/user-friendly than click on a tile ?

    • Anonymous

      Not a joke at all, sunco. I’m a big advocate of each person in the household having a different user account. As a leftie, I generally keep my mouse (and a ton of other settings) configured just the way I GODDAMN WANT THEM. :)  I can keep myself logged into any sites I want, and not have to worry about others logging me off the site so they can dabble. With fast user switching there’s no need to log off Windows. Separate user accounts allow me to explicitly control who has access to what (for example, keeping the kiddos off of the unsavory websites). And you’ve got to be kidding griping about resource usage…seriously? I’ve got a 1 TB hard disk, and I’m supposed to worry about taxing windows with a couple of user profiles?

    • sunco

      You’re refering to your situation, but as you can see on the original post, not everybody likes that way. Not everybody are geeks, not everybody are that advanced as you, not everybody want to change mouse speed.. I mean, people just want to read emails in a easy way. Why add more steps to that ? Is a 30 seconds thing, not that they want to move all the configuration

    • sunco

      I’m ok with using multiple Windows accounts if you are using hard work apps (photoshop, developing, autocad, flash, etc..) and some family member is going to use your pc for about 1 hour and don’t want to by mistake somebody deletes your work. But read an email ? Come on guys, that is just a very bad workarround. Next time the workarround will be “use your own pc”..

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      I never said it was more practical or user-friendly. I implied that it is more beneficial for the user.

    • Jinge

      Supposed you have a friend coming, you are doing smth on your computer, he wants to check his emails, do you really have to log off your session (swapping everything), opening another session, loading the browser, closing it, logging off, reopen the other session, wait 5min unswapping everything, continue to work?
      It could have been done just by a CTRL+N and do what you want… let me know when you are finished/ 

      Don’t like the idea either.

      (When sbdy ask me that I just open a private browser window… so I don’t really have the pb, but not everybody knows about it)

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      That is a completely different scenario then we were initially talking about. Obviously, a friend who is guest would just open a new window (preferably private) and proceed. I was talking about regular users of the computer. The process can and is much easier than you put. Click Start>Switch User, login to your account, and open the browser/pinned email shortcut. Since it’s their user account they can be automatically signed it. I’m not saying you have to use this method, I’m just saying there is a benefit and it’s not as complicated as you make it out to be. The biggest problem to arise from this method is from the performance of the computer and what is in the start-up for that user.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wixostrix WixosTrix

      That is a completely different scenario then we were initially talking about. Obviously, a friend who is guest would just open a new window (preferably private) and proceed. I was talking about regular users of the computer. The process can and is much easier than you put. Click Start>Switch User, login to your account, and open the browser/pinned email shortcut. Since it’s their user account they can be automatically signed it. I’m not saying you have to use this method, I’m just saying there is a benefit and it’s not as complicated as you make it out to be. The biggest problem to arise from this method is from the performance of the computer and what is in the start-up for that user.

    • OMG55

      If it’s one account for every single family member, wouldn’t each of you know the login credential/password? Any family member would login to the single account and view/read whatever. No need for multiple account switching. People with multiple accounts could have on for business, personal, etc. MS new account linking takes care of this and differentiates messages/emails from different account. I guess if you are cheater and don’t want you spouse to see a specific account, linking would work against you.

    • Guest

      As we have seen from some Windows 8 screenshots, it seems they want to merge/link the user account on the computer and the windows live account together. Hence, this is a logical step.

    • Anonymous

      are you serious?

  • http://twitter.com/rmaclean Robert MacLean

    This reminds me of a recent experience:

    Me: “Waiter, waiter”
    Waiter: “Sir, is something wrong?”
    Me: “Yes, looks like something is in my tea?!”
    Waiter: “Why, yes sir, that is a storm in a teacup”

  • Grannyville7989

    People don’t like change. I remember everyone throwing a fit whenever Facebook changed their interface. I remember seeing loads of people joining “Change Facebook back to the way it was!” groups.

    I’m curious to know if Microsoft have fixed that problem where I sign out from my Windows Live ID and I get a message saying “We had a problem signing you out…” – What? I want to SIGN OUT! How can this be a problem to do!?

    • Grannyville7989

      Yup, the problem still happens. I’m not sure if it’s just related to Safari because I never get it when I’m using Internet Explorer. Oh well.

    • Hino Musouka

      I also get it quite often (using Opera) and I’ve seen it while using IE as well, so to me it seems like a browser-independent bug.

  • http://www.callumpy.co.uk Callumpy

    I signed out of my account to have a look at the changes, and then had to try 10 different passwords to get back in, fail.

    But I don’t see how people were confused by how it looked.

    • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

      What WAS confusing was the fact that I went to live.com and it said “You are already signed in”, yet I had to click “continue”…

    • http://www.callumpy.co.uk Callumpy

      lol, I never came across that.

    • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

      It was a problem for me all the time…

  • http://www.callumpy.co.uk Callumpy

    I signed out of my account to have a look at the changes, and then had to try 10 different passwords to get back in, fail.

    But I don’t see how people were confused by how it looked.

  • GP007

    So the problem is that it now asks you to type in your live ID and your password instead of just your password?  And this is confussing to people how exactly?     This change seems to be angering a, as is always the case on the internet, very vocal minority out there.  

    • Anonymous

      Dude… the problem isn’t that it is now asking people to type in their “live ID and your password instead of just your password.”

      THE PROBLEM IS: If you have multiple live or/and hotmail email accounts (like most people do), NOW every time you want to switch account or you go to live.com/ hotmail.com you have to sign-in over and over again. There is no way to automatically sign-in nor does hotmail provide a way for email addresses store like gmail does.

      So yes it is a big problem. 

    • the Tech Dino

      You can link your accounts and switch between them…..

  • Renzo

    Yeah vocal minority needs to stop sharing accounts (huge security no-no) and learn to use LastPass – the #1 and only way people should be administering their internet accounts.

    • Anonymous

      You guys are COMPLETELY missing the point. Go back and read what the problem is.

  • Anonymous

    well i think some users… just want to complain. its just a log in page, but they act like they will act because it doesn’t work the way they want.

    I didn’t mind the change, when i used it yesterday to test new webapp co-authoring. and the reason i never let multiple accounts in my computer is the same i never liked much those tiles. when i couldn’t go to my email without “signing in” and i had to delete other peoples accounts, even though they were added thanks to credential manager when i installed windows.

    but i noticed today Get a single use code to sign in with which sounds nice if i go to a public comp and i want to test that, which is a nice security feature.

  • Guest

    Kind of annoying. I liked it to remember me and just enter my password every time. I don’t want to be signed in permanently.

    • Jinge

      I agree… I used to do the same!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you. People dont realize how much it is a pain when you have 6 personal email addresses — i.e. developer acount, MSDN account, Zune service acount, dont give a shit give it out to everybody account, etc. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Shaw/1356126638 Mark Shaw

    i could give a shit. my experience doesn’t rely on this feature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Shaw/1356126638 Mark Shaw

    i could give a shit. my experience doesn’t rely on this feature.

  • Anonymous

    What this is really about is turning people toward having their own PC user accounts.  If Windows 8 is going to implement Live ID for logins, 1 user account = 1 Live ID.  Hotmail is just getting ready for Win8.

  • Anonymous

    the live team has always been an UI fail. have you seen skydrive before the revamp? what about live.com? OMG it is like a myspace page. everything is all over the place. I can never find anything or make heads of tails of anything. its a flood of data in random ways. these guys need to talk to the guys that made the zune app and the windows phone UI. the live.com UX team is really the worse of the worse at microsoft.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Casey.J.Brown Casey Brown

    I am not a fan of logging in and out again, so I downloaded windows live mail solution for myself and told my partner to use the web based version. If you have another partner just tell them to use the web based version in another browser like chrome. I prefer IE 9 but the majority of people i know wont really have too much of a preference in terms of HTML 5 features etc.

  • adam pilborough

    So you have to type your address? Wow. How hard!

    *sweat drips off noes as I click post*

  • Zweethunny

    i agree with all the changes did not like it …..thats why i bought a laptop since i am the only one who uses it….now i have to keep type in my email account…..sucks