How to Tell the Difference Between Microsoft Account Log-ins

by | Updated December 23, 2020 | General Technology, User Tips and Tricks

I have multiple accounts for logging into Lifecycle Services, Visual Studio, and Visual Studio Team Services. The accounts are exactly the same (becky@insert-company.com) but one is a work account and one is a personal account. I am never certain what the difference between Microsoft account log-ins or when I am using one versus the other. This week I spent some time digging into these questions and I wanted to share what I found.

When logging into Visual Studio this is the prompt I get asking me to log in.

This is where my log-in confusion starts:

Microsoft Visual Studio

This is how Microsoft defines the difference between a Work/Organizational account and a Personal/Microsoft account:

An organizational account is an account created by an organization’s administrator to enable a team member to access to all Microsoft cloud services such as Azure, Windows Intune or Office 365. An Organizational account can take the form of a user’s organizational email address, such as username@orgname.com, when an organization synchronizes its Active Directory accounts with Azure Active Directory.

Microsoft/Personal account, created by a user for personal use, is the new name for what used to be called “Windows Live ID” (or for some of us the VOICE/PartnerSource ID we used). The Microsoft account is the combination of an email address and a password that a user uses to sign in to all consumer-oriented Microsoft products and cloud services such as Outlook (Hotmail), Messenger, OneDrive, MSN, Windows Phone or Xbox LIVE. If a user uses an email address and password to sign in to these or other services, then the user already has a Microsoft account—but the user can also sign up for a new one at any time.” NOTE: some people may have a Microsoft account set up with the same email as the Organization Account (explained above) and while the same email is used they are actually separate account types.

In my case, I created a Microsoft/Personal account before our organization created an account for me. That is how I ended up with 2 accounts using the same email address.

If I have two accounts with the same email and password, how can I tell which one I am logging in with?

This is a quick tip. When logging in, the icon representing a work/organization account looks like this:

Work Account Icon

When logging in, the icon representing a Personal/Microsoft account looks like this:

Personal Microsoft Account Icon

If you are currently running into this scenario, hopefully, this helps you understand what you are looking at when prompted to log in to various applications.

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