Microsoft

Pro tip: Troubleshoot the Microsoft account verification procedure in Windows 8.1

Greg Shultz provides a solution for Windows 8.1 users who are having difficulty when prompted to re-verify their Microsoft account.

The other day, I signed into a Windows 8.1 system that I hadn't used recently. I was a bit concerned when I went check my Hotmail account using the Mail app on the Start screen and discovered that my Inbox was not up-to-date. I then saw a toast pop-up in the upper right corner that informed me that the account was unavailable (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

My only hint that my Microsoft account needed re-verification came when I discovered that my Hotmail account was unavailable.

Upon seeing this, I was momentarily freaked out, but then I remembered reading that Microsoft's account security verification process may occasionally require that you verify your security information. I then attempted to go through the steps to verify my account and was led off on a troubleshooting expedition that turned into a wild goose chase. Eventually, I was able to verify my Microsoft account, but not in the way that it was supposed to work.

A quick Google search turned up the fact that a number of Windows 8.1 users were being led on this same wild goose chase when being prompted to re-verify their Microsoft accounts. As such, I thought I would cover this problem and solution in a detailed article so that others might not have to go through the ordeal on their own.

Need for a better alert

Let me begin by saying that I'm a bit perturbed that the need for the re-verification process isn't more apparent. For example, it would have been nice to have seen a message on the Sign in screen informing me that I needed to verify my security information. However, the only place that you're made aware of the need for the re-verification process is buried on the PC Settings | Accounts screen (Figure B), which is not a place that people visit on a regular basis.

Figure B

Figure B

When I accessed the PC Settings | Accounts screen, I was prompted to verify my identity.

The re-verification ordeal

The re-verification process is supposed to be a simple 4-step procedure that allows you to get back to work quickly. Under normal circumstances, you simply access the PC Settings | Accounts screen, click the Verify link, and follow the steps to retrieve and enter a security code. However, not everyone encounters such an easy process.

For example, when I clicked the Verify link, nothing happened. So, thinking that there might be a slight glitch, I restarted my system. I then returned to the PC Settings | Accounts screen and tried again. Still nothing.

I went back to the desktop and noticed an Action Center flag in the Notification area. Upon accessing the Action Center, I found a red alert Security warning prompting me to sign in with my Microsoft account password (Figure C). So, I clicked the Sign in button and was surprised to find that I was immediately taken back to the PC Settings | Accounts screen. So, I clicked the Verify link again with the same results.

Figure C

Figure C

The Action Center warning prompted me to sign in with my Microsoft account password.

Next, I selected the More account settings online link and was taken to my account summary page on the Microsoft account site. I signed in normally and then saw all of my account information. Thinking that surely would have knocked some sense into the operation, I again returned to the PC Settings | Accounts screen and again clicked the Verify link. However, nothing had changed.

Not sure what would happen, but left with no other choice, I then selected the Disconnect button. When I did so, I found myself at a Switch to a Local account prompt. So, I followed the steps to convert my Microsoft account to a Local account. As it happened, that turned out to be the successful path. Let's take a closer look.

The roundabout solution

Upon selecting the Disconnect button, I was prompted to re-enter my Microsoft account password. I then followed the steps to convert my Microsoft account to a Local account (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Converting from a Microsoft account to a Local account was a simple 3-step operation.

I then signed in to my Local account and immediately proceeded to convert my Local account back to my original Microsoft account (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E

I immediately converted my Local account back to a Microsoft account.

As a part of this procedure, I was prompted to verify my account. This is the prompt that I should have encountered way back at the beginning when I clicked the Verify link.

I then worked through the steps to retrieve and enter a security code to verify my account (Figure F). As you can see, I originally set up my security code retrieval process via email. However, you can set up the security code retrieval process for phone or text message. Regardless of the method, the process is basically the same.

Figure F

Figure F

The verification procedure is very straightforward.

When I completed the procedure, my Microsoft account was back to normal (Figure G).

Figure G

Figure G

Upon completing the verification procedure, my Microsoft account was back to normal.

What's your take?

Have you been required to verify for Microsoft account in Windows 8.1? If so, did it function normally, or were you led on a wild goose chase? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

12 comments
R-in-Texas
R-in-Texas

Unbelievable.  I have been having this problem for days.  I try to defend Win 8.1 against the critiques of my Apple friends, but it gets harder and harder.    I like WIn 8.1, but I have wasted so much time dealing with problems like this that I wonder if it is worth it.   I am seriously considering just dumping Win 8.1 and going back to Linux.  With Windows XX  there has always been a constant distraction that takes me away from doing my work, which is the whole point!   I wonder if anyone has estimated the real cost of all the time the ineptness of MS has caused.

hirussellsmith
hirussellsmith

I think, verification process become more tedious to avoid any kind of security breach at MS Platform.Safety of information always should be kept on high priority.

bus66vw
bus66vw

Yes I had this problem. I feel for everyone who just wants it to work.



vhaakon
vhaakon

It is Microsoft's fanboys hating desktops.  No one wants to waste time verifying anything.  Sheer BS.  That's because they have everything i the cloud.  What a waste of time and energy.  They don't has the simple games anymore that to needs a live account.  Maybe the Europeans will sue again as this makes having the hotmail account mandatory.

jharvie673
jharvie673

I dislike the word "stupid" but my vocabulary fails me when discussing W8/8.1. Who was the genius that thought up the requirement for you to have to log in to use your own machine? I do real work on a machine; if I want to play with tiles I'll go buy a Dominoes set.

jeffgoodman
jeffgoodman

I was experiencing the problem frequently and sought help on the MS Forum boards.  MS rep provided all the same steps as outlined above.  Nothing worked.  When you go to the "more account settings" online, there is "Recent Activity" and I was receiving constant errors attributed to Internet Explorer trying to log in.  No further details but it was clear that too frequent log ins with errors would indeed cause a verification process.  (My default browser is Chrome).  I do have a laptop and WinPhone as well.  I did the above steps numerous times.  I even completely changed my password twice.   Finally, nothing would work.  I could not verify no matter what I did and had to change my password for a third time.  3 times a charm as they say.  The problem has not reoccurred since.   Very strange.  I am wondering if the latest updates corrected something - because I think the timing of the update coincided with the resolution of the issue... but maybe not. 

mjc5
mjc5

Wow - if anything shows W8 is an abject failure, it has to be this.

marvin
marvin

Good going Greg.  The same thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago and I came close to reinstalling Windows 8.1.  I stumbled around and eventually came to the same conclusion you had, and the problem was fixed.  Unfortunately I did not document exactly what I did and have been dreading the same thing occurring in the future.  So thanks for doing such good job of providing a step by step process that works.  


I might add an advisement that all users of Microsoft accounts take the time to periodically review their profiles.  This is to make sure that Microsoft has the current cell phone numbers and alternative EMAILS which are used in the verification process. 

squirrelpie0
squirrelpie0

Been using - sort of- Win 8 for about a year. It has very few features I find superior to Win 7, and a whole bunch that are simply not. Metro is a convoluted mess. I will continue to use it as I have a Dell DV8P tablet but find I am using the touch function less and less in favour of a BT mouse and keyboard or a stylus.


In spite of good, polite support from Dell (the unit is flaky -either a hdwe or OS prob. I am about ready to give up in favour of an android tablet. Even my old Playbook functions better, just doesn't have the apps I want.

tvmuzik
tvmuzik

Nice tip. That confirms I can avoid Windows 8 like the plague.

Staying with XP and Win7 until WinBetter comes up.  "WinBetter"- I invented that term.
Rodo1
Rodo1

@tvmuzik  Love your "WinBetter" term! I went through this same account business while initially setting up Win 8 on a new machine. Ridiculous! Windows just get worse with every iteration!

mjc5
mjc5

@tvmuzik  Perhaps the computer industry would be better served if they did not tie their health to an operating system not ready for prime time.


Loves me my Cinnamon Mint. 

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