When you look at various sign in and log in forms on sites and services like Google Mail, Facebook, Yahoo Mail or Hotmail you will notice that they all look different despite sharing the same basic system. Users somehow need to enter their username and password, and often have options to stay logged in when using these forms.
Microsoft recently changed the Windows Live sign-in without prior notification. You may recall that the service displayed multiple user tiles if users had signed in with multiple user accounts before. It also offered options to remember the user (remember me) and to remember the password.
The new Windows Live Sign-In has been changed, and those options have been removed. Users who access the login page will notice that Microsoft has removed the user tile per saved account option and combined remember me and remember my password into a keep me signed in option.
Microsoft has been criticized by users for removing previously available options. Remember Me basically has been removed completely. It was convenient for users who did not want to save email and password, but only their email address so that they did not have to re-enter it every time they sign in to a Windows Live service.
Remember Me was also responsible for the user account tiles on the sign in pages.
Why have the two features been removed by Microsoft? There have been three core reasons for that, according to a post by Eric Doerr on the Inside Windows Live blog:
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.
Some customers were confused by the two checkboxes and the tiles, that's what the statement above basically says. Microsoft is however not addressing the underlying problem. Users should not use remember me, remember my password or the new keep me signed in on public computers, ever. Those that do have a different problem than just leaving their account accidentally logged in on public computer systems. The new setting does not change this at all. The only thing that is not longer displayed is the user account tiles during sign-in, but it still can happen that users stay logged in on a public computer.
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.
A change again because of some users who could not figure out how to remove tiles from the sign in pages. While I have never worked with tiles, I'd guess that each was linked to a cookie on the system. Clearing the cookies would therefor remove the tiles from the system. Again more of a issue for users who do not know how to do basic stuff like that.
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.
While that addresses one issue that some users may have, it neglects the fact that many households are using a single computer system and single user account on that system for their Internet. And suggesting that those households and communities should create separate user accounts for each user may be sound, but it neglects the fact that many computer users do not know how that is done.
User comments have been mostly negatively, including:
As others have said, by removing the ability to only save your email address and not your password you have made things less safe. Very strange change in my mind (and many other I have talked to about this).
You say that working with aliases is the solution to that and I tried to figure it out.
It is COMPLICATED and I can't get it to work when I login.
I cannot understand why you replaced something very easy and user-friendly with something that is so complicated.
My friends and I all have families who share the home PC. Being able to sit down and simply select which account one wanted to use was perfect. If security was ever an issue, one simply would not choose to have password remembered.
Integrate email accounts? Not if we're talking about mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma and whoever all sharing the same computer....... all with their own Hotmail accounts.
The suggested solution (to create multiple user accounts for windows on 1 computer) is in my situation inconvenient because of the normal startup (which normally brings me to the desktop) is now interrupted with a login. And I should do so specially because of Hotmail???
Customer Confusion? If customers were confused between the difference between "Remember me" and "Remember my password", why not just change the labels to something less confusing, like "Remember my User ID" and "Remember my User ID and Password".
Changing trends in Device Ownership and Consolidation on Primary Account explain why you would want to add the "Keep me signed in" feature, but doesn't explain why you would get rid of the old features. For people who are sole users of their computer, it is great to give them the speed and convenience of remaining signed in without having to retype their user ID and password.
But why take away a feature which is beneficial for people who share a computer (such as a family computer) or for security reasons don't want to remain signed in (like accessing Hotmail from a work computer, and don't want to worry about logging out before someone from their company helpdesk accesses their computer).
Even the work-around suggestion of creating different Windows logins is absurd. With the old Hotmail feature, I could be creating a PowerPoint presentation on a shared family computer. If my wife wanted to check her email, she could just interrupt me, and with a few mouse clicks view her Hotmail email, and let me get back to PowerPoint. Instead, you are suggesting that I close my PowerPoint presentation, log out completely, and then she log in, check her email, and then log out, then I log back in, and then reopen my PowerPoint presentation. Hardly simpler, faster, or less confusing.
Well the list goes on and one. Have you noticed the changes on the Windows Live Sign-In pages? If so, what is your opinion?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.