Microsoft has taken some interim steps to make account switching easier in its 365 apps with the addition of a list of logged in users.
Account switching in Microsoft’s product has long been a pain for users, requiring them to log out and back in to (for example) switch between their personal and work accounts.
While competitors like Google allow the addition of multiple accounts that can be switched by simply clicking on different profiles, Microsoft users have been forced to endure repeated and annoying exposure to the company’s login screen.
The problem can be circumvented by using an InPrivate browser window or an entirely different browser. However, with the lines between work and personal life blurring, especially when it comes to device usage, Microsoft’s approach to multiple accounts on one device feels a bit old-fashioned.
The company has now taken action to resolve the issue. Microsoft 365 users (Office.com, Word, Excel, PowerPoint for the web, Outlook, OneDrive and SharePoint) can simply add additional accounts (personal or Azure Active Directory) and switch between them via a click on the image of profile.
In our very subjective tests, the feature worked well, allowing switching between multiple accounts (once logged in) seamlessly. Logging out of an account places the user in the remaining account, so some caution should be exercised, but overall the feature worked as advertised.
There are a few downsides. Functionality is per-browser, not per-device. Users can also confuse it with browser profiles and the use of third-party cookies is necessary. Also, it does not work in Microsoft 365 Government and Cloud environments. Tenant administrators cannot easily disable the feature, and only one account can be active per application at a time.
The biggest downside is that the worst account switch offender – Microsoft Teams – remains on the “coming soon” list (along with other Microsoft web and desktop apps).
Still, limitations and omissions aside, the feature will come as a relief to users facing several account issues with Microsoft’s web and desktop apps. The global rollout is expected to take place between April and June. ®