Outlook App will soon have Multi-Factor Authentication capabilities
The mobile Outlook application for Android and iOS devices will soon include multi-factor authentication capabilities. Called Authenticator Lite, Microsoft plans to launch the functionality this month in the Outlook application.
An entry on the official Microsoft 365 roadmap reveals additional information on the planned integration. Microsoft plans to launch it for commercial Microsoft 365 customers only, unlocking the option for them to complete the second step of verification using the Outlook app.
Microsoft provides the following feature description: "Authenticator Lite (in Outlook) is a feature that allows your users to complete multi-factor authentication (MFA) for their work or school account using the Outlook app on their iOS or Android device."
The decision to integrate multi-factor authentication capabilities into the mobile Outlook applications is interesting. First, because Microsoft maintains an authenticator app already. Microsoft Authenticator is a standalone mobile application to use multi-factor authentication for Microsoft products and also other services.
The decision to integrate the functionality into Outlook may sound superfluous to Microsoft Authenticator users, but these are probably not the target audience.
Microsoft does not reveal why it is integrating authentication functionality into Outlook. A plausible reason is to reduce the complexity somewhat for users. Those with Outlook installed on their mobile devices may use it soon to verify the second authentication step, at least when it comes to Microsoft product authentications.
This is one of the limitations of Outlook's new functionality. Microsoft Authenticator supports first-party and third-party services, Outlook only Microsoft product authentications.
Another reason that speaks for Outlook is the widespread use of the application. The Outlook version on Android has been downloaded more than 500 million times according to Google. Microsoft's Authenticator app for Android. Microsoft Authenticator has 230k reviews currently and is also listed as a top 5 productivity app on the App Store.managed more than 50 million downloads only.
Apple does not reveal download numbers, not even approximates, but Microsoft Outlook has almost 5.5 million reviews and is listed as a top 5 app under productivity.
Microsoft can reach ten times more users on Android, and likely a multiple on iOS as well. While not all of these have access to work or school accounts, it is clear that Microsoft can reach more customers using the app.
It is unclear how the integration looks like. There is probably an onboarding experience once the feature launches, to inform users about the new functionality.
Microsoft Authenticator users do not need the functionality, if they use the app to protect their work or school accounts already.
The decision to integrate Authenticator Lite functionality in the Outlook application could pay off for Microsoft. When done right, it could get more of its commercial customers to use two-factor authentication, which would improve security significantly.
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