A few days ago, I described how you reset a forgotten Windows 8 password for a local user account. Ian mentioned in a comment that this procedure doesn’t work for Microsoft accounts (connected account). Unfortunately, this is true. The workaround described here uses the built-in Windows 8 administrator account to access the data of the Microsoft account for which you forgot the password.
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Local account password reset not working

If you try to reset the password of a Microsoft account with the net user command as described in step 9 in my previous post, you will receive the message “The system is not authoritative for the specified account and therefore cannot complete the operation. System error 8646 has occurred .” This makes sense. If this worked, then anybody who has physical access to your computer would also be able to log on with your account in Microsoft’s cloud.

The system is not authoritative for the specified account and therefore cannot complete the operation - System error 8646 has occurred.

The system is not authoritative for the specified account and therefore cannot complete the operation - System error 8646 has occurred.

However, there is a workaround that allows you to log on—even if you have no other account for this Windows 8 computer—and access the data of the Microsoft account for which you lost the password. All you have to do is enable the built-in administrator account. I describe how you can do this on Windows 8 in my next post.

Connected account

Just to be sure not to confuse anybody, I should explain the difference between a local Windows 8 account and a Microsoft account, so you know if the procedure described in this post is for you or if you can reset the password of a local account.

A local account is just what we always used to log on to a Windows machine (if the computer is not a member of a Windows domain). All credentials for this account are stored only on the local computer.

A Microsoft account is connected to an email address which is why they it also called “connected account”; its credentials are stored in Microsoft’s cloud and are locally cached, so you can also log on without an Internet connection. The email address can be a Hotmail account, a Live account, an Outlook.com account, or any other email address that you registered in Microsoft’s cloud. The main advantages are that you don’t have to sign in when you use one of Microsoft’s cloud apps and that Windows 8 app settings are synchronized between PCs.

You can decide during the Windows 8 setup process which account type you use to log on to Windows 8. If you don’t know if you have been using a Microsoft account or a local account, you can follow the procedure for the local account until step 9. If you get the “The system is not authoritative for the specified account…” error message, you are using a Microsoft account. You can then proceed with step 6 in the first guide in my next post.

If you still have access to the computer you can recognize connected accounts by their email address in the Manage Accounts app in the Control Panel.

Connected Microsoft account

Connected Microsoft account

Online password reset

Another advantage of a Microsoft account is that you can reset your password of online. (The most difficult part here is to enter the correct CAPTCHA. I usually take 4-5 tries. CAPTCHA cracking tools are probably much better at this.)

If you have configured a second email account for password restoration, Microsoft will send you a password to this email address. Another option is to reset the password by phone, provided that you configured a phone number. Microsoft is really doing this.

I once forgot the password of an Office 365 test account for which I didn’t pay anything. Because I was curious, I tried the “password reset by phone” feature. A few hours later, I really did receive a phone call from a Microsoft support engineer, from the U.S., on my German mobile number. That’s what I call support. Thus before you enable the built-in Windows 8 administrator account as described in my next post, I would try the online password reset procedure.

Just in case you are thinking you can reset the Microsoft account password by using the built-in administrator account, this doesn’t work either. The Windows 8 User app in the PC Settings doesn’t offer a password reset option for the Microsoft account, and the corresponding feature in the Computer Management application will throw the same error as on the command prompt: “The system is not authoritative for the specified account…”

You see now how the cloud changes everything. Even with an administrator account, you are no longer the master of your PC. Perhaps it is possible to hack into the cached password of the Microsoft account. However, this probably is not doable without third-party tools. If you know how to do this, share your wisdom in a comment below.

In my next post, I will explain how you can enable the built-in administrator account on a Windows 8 machine for which you have no other account.

  1. Avatar
    Martin Schwegmann 9 years ago

    Forgot my sign it password Windows 8.1. Have connected account. Tried account.live.com solutions using account, alternate email account, and phone text option. Microsoft has not responded to any of my submissions. Did not make a boot disk initially. Don’t have one now. Have tried online solutions for burning various iso files to flash drive, set usb flash as first in boot sequence, disabled secure boot, yet upon restart, machine is booting from hard drive. Question 1: how can I get usb flash boot disk at this point? Question 2: What else can I do to get machine to boot from usb flash? NOTE: I am using an older Windows XP machine to create usb flash boot disk and in the process somewhere, I read that XP didn’t have certain capability required to create a boot disk on usb flash. All of this is making me delireous.

  2. Avatar

    Martin I didn’t touch Windows XP for ages, so I don’t know if the USB boot tools work on this OS. You could try Rufus. Did you try if the flash drive works as a boot drive on another machine? You also have to make sure that you disabled UEFI.

  3. Avatar
    Tf1986 8 years ago

    Just wanted to give a big thank you for this guide. Had forgotten my password and couldn’t find any way to get back in. This guide kept from having to do a complete restore. Thanks again!

  4. Avatar
    Dave 8 years ago

    And another thank you here. Had an employee leave, and no way to get ahold of him, and he had many things like the Simply Accounting info on his comp. Once in with the Admin account I couldn’t (or at least didn’t have) access to the programs (like Simply Accounting) I found all the data but is there a way to set up the Admin account to run programs installed by the other user?

  5. Avatar
    Kwadwo 8 years ago

    How do I recover my microsoft account which I configured with a mobile number but I am out of the country and can’t the code sent through the number?

  6. Avatar
    IdeasKid 7 years ago

    im a noob. I ran C:\WINDOWS\system32>net user ***** password? and it responded w/ C:\WINDOWS\system32>net user ***** password?
    System error 8646 has occurred.

    The system is not authoritative for the specified account and therefore cannot complete the operation. Please retry the operation using the provider associated with this account. If this is an online provider please use the provider’s online site.

    how do I get around this& how do I do this from another computer remotely?



    • Avatar Author

      I don’t think that you can get around this. Because this is a Microsoft account, you have to reset the password online.

  7. Avatar
    Alain 7 years ago

    Windows security is sad 😭

  8. Avatar
    yusuf dadkhah 3 years ago

    you should copy everything you want to keep on the connected account to a usb stick and then sign into a diffrent account or make 1 more if there is 1 account and do net users the connected account /delete in cmd and create a local account version of it instead using netplwiz.exe

    click add then type the username and password and click local account then click next and you are done another way to do this is

    type net users  usernname /add

    net users username *

    type the log in password for the user

    confirm  the log in password for the user by typing the password again.

    press enter 

    the account you want is set up.

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