Last week, some of you may have noticed that the sign-in page for products that use Windows Live ID (like Hotmail) changed. Instead of multiple user tiles and two check boxes per account (one for “Remember me” and one for “Remember my password”), now there is a streamlined page focused on one account and one check box to “Keep me signed in”.
Some of you have posted questions on this blog or in our forums and I wanted to share the thinking behind the change. Why did we make this change?
The previous sign-in experience was optimized for managing multiple accounts on a single PC. A tile was saved per account, and there was a “Remember me” and “Remember my password” check box. The “Remember me” box kept the tile around, and if you checked both boxes, this allowed you to sign in by clicking on the tile instead of retyping your password each time. This was convenient for shared PCs and for people who juggled lots of accounts.
At the same time, there were problems with the old design.
- 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.
We’ve also steadily added many features to Hotmail to solve scenarios that previously required juggling multiple accounts. Most notably:
- You can add other email accounts to your Hotmail inbox – even accounts from other email services – as long as they support POP aggregation (most do).
- You can create additional “aliases” connected to your account, which allow you to have unique email addresses that all route to one inbox (for example, if you are visiting sites that send you annoying newsletters). This is a better solution than having separate Windows Live IDs for this.
With all these changes, we felt that it was time to give the sign-in experience a facelift.
We streamlined the sign-in page to prioritize one account per device, and simplified the two check boxes into one “keep me signed in” check box. Once you check “Keep me signed in” we’ll keep you signed in with your Windows Live ID until you explicitly sign out. This also has the nice benefit of giving you a much faster page load time, so that getting to your inbox or whatever service you are using is now much faster.
You can see the old sign-in experience next to the new experience below. Getting set up
We’ve heard a few questions from people who were used to the old design and not sure how best to set things up in the new design. Here’s a quick breakdown of different scenarios and the best options for each.
I don’t remember my password. Final thoughts
The most common question we’ve heard is from people who had passwords saved in the tiles and don’t remember their passwords. If you forgot your password, simply reset it here
. I don’t want to type my Windows Live ID and password each time.
Check “Keep me signed in” the next time you sign in. We will keep you signed in until you explicitly click “sign out.” I personally have multiple accounts that I want to manage.
There are lots of reasons why you might have multiple email accounts. Here are a couple of the most common scenarios, with suggested solutions:
Someone else from my family wants to sign in on a shared PC.
- You have multiple email accounts used for different purposes (for example, personal vs. business). The best solution here is to add other email accounts to your primary Windows Live ID account. This works for Hotmail accounts and for other email accounts too. And you get all the benefits of simple, fast sign-in.
- You don’t want to use your primary account at websites that send newsletters and other potentially annoying mail. To solve this problem, a few months ago we launched the ability to quickly add and remove “aliases” on your account, so you can quickly add and remove multiple email addresses, all associated with your primary account.
If this happens only occasionally, just sign out and sign in with a different Windows Live ID.
If switching between Windows Live accounts a common activity, consider creating a separate Windows user account for each person who uses the computer. Once you’ve set this up, it’s easy to switch between Windows user accounts–all your login info will be saved and you’ll automatically be signed in (if you choose) when you browse the web. This is also handy for Facebook and many other websites, which also save info for one user at a time.
A few of you have also posted that we should have proactively blogged about this change. That’s good feedback, and we’ll work harder to be transparent about our work in the future. Hopefully the info in this post will help steer you in the right direction to troubleshoot problems and set up your account to work the way you want it to.
Keep the feedback coming.
Group Program Manager – Windows Live ID