What is a "Microsoft Account"? Follow

"Microsoft Account" is a generic term


A Microsoft Account is a generic term that refers to an account in any Microsoft cloud based Active Directory. Typically this is invisible to you so you would know your accounts as belonging to one or more services you use. Examples of these services are:Office 365 for your work or school

  • Outlook.com
  • Skype
  • Xbox LIVE
  • Windows Phone
  • many more

When you create an account for one of the Microsoft Cloud Services you are creating a personal account in that service's Active Directory, but again this is invisible to you. A personal account created in one service can usually be used in another service allowing you to just use one account/password to access many services that may seem unrelated! Cool!


Microsoft Personal Accounts are the first type of Microsoft Account

Accounts that you create in any service are in fact considered Personal Accounts. Personal Accounts belong wholly to you and are managed by you. This is important because the relationship you have is with the service provider as an individual consumer. Any password change or account issues will need to be addressed directly with the service vendor. Additionally, the service vendor has control of your data and follows it's own published (hopefully) guidelines on the use and disposal of your data. This is mostly OK as you probably wanted to use the service, have read the terms of use and have agreed to these terms.


Microsoft Work or School Accounts are the second type of Microsoft Account

Accounts that are created for you by an organization such as your work or school are considered Work or School Accounts (surprising we know - kind of like the White House is white, who knew!?). These accounts are very important as they are required to access specific content that is not available to everyone in the world. Additionally, being given a Work or School account means you qualified in some way. The best and most pertinent example of this is your @state.gov account! This is issued to you by the Department of State's proper authority and is managed by the Department of State. Your account is valid for as long as the Department of State allows you to participate on their network and/or with their services. This is the account that allows you Single Sign On to Department of State computers, devices and networks! That's nice when it works, isn't it?


Why do I care?

I'm glad you asked! You should care because your Department of State issued account is available for you to use in approved applications on or off the Department's network! Yep, you read that right! You will be able to login to approved Department Services with your regular @state.gov account! Awesome! Products such as Arrival and Departure System allow you to login from anywhere using your Department Organizational Microsoft Account!


The catch

We wish that this section was not necessary but there are challenges to those of us who actually have more than one Microsoft Account of any kind. Let's face it, most of us do. In order to make sure you are logging in with the correct account, you will need to pay attention to the specific Microsoft Account your browser "thinks" you want to use. If you accidentally continue on with the incorrectly identified account (such as using a Personal Microsoft Account like someone@outlook.com rather than the Microsoft Work or School Account someone@state.gov) your experience will not be as good as expected. Unfortunately, it may look like you are unable to access the desired Department Service, but really, this is expected as only the someone@state.gov Department assigned Microsoft Organizational account is allowed to access the Department Service. Yikes! 

Another common problem is most modern web browsers cache your login values. This means that you may login to your Xbox LIVE Personal Microsoft Account and then try to log into a Department Service wanting to use the Microsoft Organizational Account but the browser is still remembering your Xbox LIVE Personal Microsoft Account! Oh man! But worse, perhaps you did not fully log off your Xbox LIVE Personal Microsoft Account and then the browser automatically tries to log you in with that account! Double Yikes! Well all is not lost! You will get the hang of this. Just remember to pay attention to the account that the browser thinks you are using, change the account with the provided on screen links if it is not correct and log off your sessions fully when you are done. No sweat! :)


Related articles:

  • How to change login accounts?
  • How to make sure your Microsoft Account is logged off?
  • Who do I contact about problems with my @state.gov Microsoft Account?
  • Why do I need a Department of State School or Work Microsoft Account to log in?








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