Microsoft’s push for mobile productivity continues today with the announcement of new security controls for Outlook for iOS and Android. Ignoring the obvious omission of Windows and Windows 10 Mobile, the update today is centered around the devices currently in-use for mobile productivity. According to the Office team, “today’s update, Outlook now uses Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL)-based authentication for Exchange Online mailboxes in Office 365, replacing the previously used basic authentication method.”
The new authentication method now grants IT Pros the ability to configure various access scenarios for Outlook Office 365 users who are on mobile devices. ADAL-based is an authentication stack which allows Outlook to engage in browser-based authentication with Office 365. Now users can sign in directly to Office 365 to authenticate rather than going through the lengthy and sometimes cumbersome credential process. With the new authentication process comes a new sign layout for Office 365 users looking to use their mobile devices to sign in.
Part of today’s update also addresses a more straightforward sign in experience for users, according to the Office team. After today, Outlook users will now have an “Office 365” login tile for connecting to an Office 365 mailbox from the Outlook app. For users who tend to rely on muscle memory for logging in, the Office team also provided a built-in intelligent agent that guides and turns accidental Exchange selections into user logins via the new ADAL sign in the method. More importantly, ADAL also allows OAuth for Office 365 accounts. Now Outlook users will have a secure mechanism to access emails without once again, requiring access to users credentials. Users will be automatically prompted to authenticate with Office 365 at sign in. Once the users have completed the prompt, they will receive an access token in return that can then be used to grant Outlook access to your inbox. Unfortunately, Exchange Active Sync does not support OAuth so the Office team will continue to use basic authentication for users who rely on that, for the time being.
The Office team admits that there are millions of users already using the basic authentication methods for Office 365. Over the new week, all Office 365 users will receive a prompt to re-login. This new re-login prompt will initiate the new ADAL sign in page. Once users complete the sign-in process, their accounts will be automatically converted from basic authentication to a more robust OAuth. IT Pros who have already applied multi-factored authentication policies will witness the changes immediately.
The Office team also hints that there will be more to come based on the ADAL authentication stack laying a new foundation for mobile device management.