On May 2, Microsoft completed its transition from Hotmail to Outlook.com, and a couple weeks later revealed that users can now chat with Gmail contacts from within their Outlook.com account. Now users are being faced with another change, one that isn’t being as well received by some users: the elimination of linked accounts in favor of aliases.
The change is being made for security purposes, according to Microsoft, which says that using aliases instead is a better, more secure way to manage more than a single email address. The reasons are numerous, but can be narrowed down to the easy access linked accounts provide for hackers and other individuals who gain access to the main Outlook.com account.
Likewise, says Microsoft, users tend to ignore regular password updates and other maintenance on accounts that aren’t their primary one (in this example, that would be the Outlook.com account). As such, those accounts are easier to compromise, and once accessed, can make it easy to gain access to the Outlook account, which then could likewise give access to all the services it is tied to.
As those who use the service know, there is already a security feature in place that is supposed to help protect against this issue: if various sorts of suspicious activity are noted on the account, all linked accounts are auto-unlinked to help protect them. Microsoft says that it doesn’t believe this is enough to keep its users secure, however.
In order to make the change easier on its users, Microsoft has added both a mail forwarding feature and the ability to send emails from a secondary account, which, in combination with forwarding, lets users receive and send mail from their main account. Users will begin seeing notifications about the change by the end of the week, with the linked accounts slated for unlinking “in late July”.