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).
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
The verification procedure is very straightforward.
When I completed the procedure, my Microsoft account was back to normal (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.
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.