Yesterday, the Outlook.com team released a big update for the Outlook.com app on Android. Today, users received not one but three relatively major features: two-step verification, the ability to sign in to your account with any alias, and 32 new @outlook.com international domains. While each one is notable in its own right, one particular facet of this announcement – arguably the most important – has been all but ignored.
When you set up your Windows Phone for the first time, you’re asked to sign in with your Microsoft account to enable such features as the Windows Store, Xbox LIVE integration, and Xbox Music. Once you do, that device is permanently tied to your account, and the only way to change the primary Microsoft account is to completely reset the device. While this might not seem like too big of an issue on the surface, it becomes extremely problematic if you want to change the email address associated with the account. Say, for example, when migrating @hotmail.com or @live.com to @outlook.com. This hassle has led to many people putting off the move – or, at the very least, much frustration.
Microsoft introduced the concept of email aliases two years ago, allowing you to create what is essentially a virtual email address that is tied to your primary one. While you can’t – or couldn’t, until today – sign in with an alias, they’re great for when you want an extra email address (or ten) without the hassle of managing multiple accounts. When Microsoft launched Outlook.com last summer and allowed users to rename their accounts, the company decided to automatically create an alias for the old address so you could continue to give out either email. Unfortunately, while your email service wouldn’t be interrupted, doing so forced you to reset your Windows Phone. This, of course, is because the primary email address – the one permanently tied to the phone – had changed.
With today’s announcement, this is no longer a problem. Now that you can sign in to Outlook.com with either your primary account or an alias, you no longer have to worry about resetting your Windows Phone. It’ll just continue to work!
Outlook.com’s new features may not be available for everyone yet, but the rollout should be complete within “the next few days.”
Disclaimer: I am a member of the Outlook.com Insider program.