Microsoft has been attempting to merge many of its related projects, services, businesses and software together over the past couple of years. Recently, there has been a much more visible push by the company to help users access various Microsoft related content by using a single unified Microsoft Account ID or MSA.
Today, Microsoft has announced its public preview of a converged Microsoft Account and Azure Active Directory Programming Model that reemphasizes the Microsoft Account ID. The preview is a culmination of Microsoft’s efforts to merge the Microsoft Account and Azure AD cloud identity services together. Between the two separate systems, Microsoft is managing over hundreds of millions of active online users who are performing billions of authentications each day.
Thanks in part to 3rd party developer request, Microsoft is designing a more consistent way for apps to be developed and work with both systems. Now, developers can write applications that work with both Microsoft Account and Azure AD accounts.
According to Principal Program Manager, Stuart Kwan it will be possible to sign-in both personal and work users with the use of a single button.
“Until now, building an application that worked with both personal and business accounts from Microsoft required integrating with two different technology stacks. Not only that, you had to have separate buttons in your app where your user needed to choose, up front, to sign-in with a personal account or a work or school account.
With the v2 app model preview, it is possible to sign-in both personal and work users with a single button. Let's take a quick look at the end user's experience. We begin with your application, with the addition of a "Sign-in with Microsoft" button.”
Another change occurring with the convergence of MSA and Azure AD Identities has to do with brand association.
"We're using the Microsoft brand because end users don't know about Azure or Azure Active Directory. But they do know that Windows, Outlook, OneDrive, Xbox, and Office 365 are services from Microsoft, and they need an account from Microsoft to sign-in there."
With the new preview programming model, developers who take advantage of Microsoft Accounts and Azure AD in their identity subsystems can leave all the heavy security responsibility to Microsoft. Handing over security to Microsoft may still leave some hesitant. However, Microsoft reminds users, “they'll be protected by the millions of dollars we invest each year protecting Windows, Office 365, Azure, and Xbox users.”
Developers interested in the finer print of the consolidation or want some info on how to start building an App using v2 App model should start here.