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Microsoft Readying Azure AD Sign-In Changes

Microsoft is changing up how users sign in to Azure Active Directory (AD) and their Microsoft accounts.

A preview of the changes is now available, with general availability scheduled for September. The sign-in experience is getting revamped to have a "consistent look and feel" for both Azure AD and Microsoft accounts, with the aim of eliminating "jarring transitions when you move between the two," Microsoft explained in its announcement Wednesday.

With the new design, users will see two screens. They'll get prompted to enter their names on one screen. Next, they see a screen prompting for passwords or other means of verification. Organizations will be able to add their brands to this updated user interface.

Microsoft has already pushed out this change to Microsoft accounts "over the last few weeks." On Wednesday, Microsoft gave notice that it is starting to deliver the new experience to Azure AD sign-in pages, too, although it will show up as a preview option over "the next few weeks."

However, the new portal behavior soon will go live. It will happen in "the last week of September."

Microsoft is giving organizations about 30 days advance notice about the coming changes. The new approach could break any automation that might have been set up by an organization because of its multiple-screen sign-in approach. Branding also could get obscured with the new approach, and organizations might want to update their documentation.

The updated portal behavior likely will be a "disruptive change" for some organizations, Microsoft's announcement admitted. Microsoft MVP Paul Cunningham indicated in a blog post that he has already seen the new behavior and suggested it could be problematic for organizations that have set up custom branding.

The 30-day advance notice was something that Microsoft promised it would do earlier this year after it had abruptly rolled out new portal changes that caused confusion among organizations. In April, Microsoft rescinded those portal changes after getting complaints. It promised back then to deliver a preview before going live. The aim of the change is to fix the "branding logic" for end users when they use their company portal to access resources at another business, Microsoft had explained back then.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.