Microsoft to abandon linked email accounts in favour of aliases

Microsoft announced on Monday that it plans to kill its linked accounts feature for Hotmail and Outlook.com.

The company first introduced linked accounts in 2006, enabling users to toggle between their Microsoft accounts without having to re-enter passwords, but it will stop supporting the feature over the next couple of months to instead encourage aliases.

Calling aliases a "more robust and secure way of managing multiple email addresses", Microsoft said a lot has changed since it introduced linked accounts. Many people have multiple email accounts, for instance, because they want avoid junk mail, organise email by separate inboxes or are transitioning from one primary account to another.

Whatever the reason, Microsoft said malicious hackers have been compromising these secondary email accounts to get access to primary accounts. Linked accounts are therefore outdated, whereas aliases, which enable users to forward email and have multiple email addresses connected to a single account, are more secure.

Read: Evernote planning two-factor authentication following hack

Microsoft has been working hard to beef up security in recent years. It introduced two-factor authentication in April, which requires users to give two pieces of information anytime they attempt to access their accounts, as an enhanced security measure for accounts. In fact, many popular tech companies have adopted two-factor in the last year alone due to frequent database hacks.

Microsoft said it also developing the ability to "move an alias", so users can move their email addresses and email from one account to another. "Stay tuned for more about this in the future," advised Microsoft's Eric Doerr in a blog post.

Microsoft Account users will receive emails over the coming days with steps on how to get aliases, and those with linked accounts will get reminders when they sign into linked accounts. The company said it would begin unlinking linked accounts in late July.