Microsoft breaks Office 365 sign-in pages ahead of surprise update

Opt-in at your own risk

Some Office 365 customers can't use Office, thanks to a login portal redesign.

For the "last few weeks", Microsoft has been quietly rolling out an opt-in redesign for login pages. The change for accessing Azure Active Directory, a cloud service that manages users for Office 365, also started Tuesday for coherency.

In addition to some basic UI tweaks, the updated design comes with a paginated sign-in where you enter your username on the first page and a credential (password, probably) on the second.

"We've done a lot of testing of this design and our telemetry shows that people are able to sign in with a notably higher success rate using this approach," Microsoft notes. It'll also enable Redmond to "easily introduce" other authentication methods in the future, such as phone sign-in.

But the Microsoft Tech Community has reported several problems, including an inability to edit content in Office 2010 from SharePoint, use smart links, and certain authentication schemes.

One commenter, Josh, pointed out that the team had committed back in April to announcing any login user experience changes ahead of time, complete with testing and an opt-in period for changes that would bring the most dramatic disruption. "None of which is happening here... So what is it? You guys again are making changes without telling anyone ahead of time and breaking things."

Microsoft responded that the changes went out to private preview customers first and the new experience is undergoing a 30-plus-day, opt-in public preview. A staffer wrote: "I apologize that the blog post announcing the changes did not go up earlier.

"The dev team surprised us by getting the changes up and running a few days earlier than planned, and we had to scramble to get the blog post up as fast as possible. We will figure out how to make sure that doesn't happen next time."

Microsoft tried rolling out branding display changes to Azure AD login pages back in April. Users complained about a lack of notice at the time, and one Microsoft team member wrote: "I'm sorry we didn't provide notice before we made the change. We will strive to do better next time."

In order to give customers time to adapt, the new "experience" is an opt-in public preview until it'll become the default during the last week of September.

Microsoft recommended users update documentation and check to see if any custom branding breaks the layout or if automation seems wonky.

"We know that this will be a disruptive change for some of you," Redmond said, "but we believe that this sets us up for an exciting future of innovation in the sign-in space."

Microsoft has not responded to a request for comment. ®

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