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In theory, you only have to go to https://account.live.com/ResetPassword.aspx and Microsoft will send you a password reset link to your alternate email address or to your phone.
Reset Microsoft account password
I suppose this will work just fine in most cases. However, several circumstances exist that can cause this procedure to fail. In my case, the recovery email address I entered when I created the Microsoft account was wrong. This can easily happen because the sign-up form only has one form field for the alternate email address, and Microsoft doesn’t send a confirmation link to the email address. Thus, you can enter any email address and you will only notice that you mistyped the address when you need it for recovering your account. By then, it is already too late, and things will get very complicated.
Verify your identity
Microsoft offers an alternate option for resetting your password if you don’t have access to your recovery address. You just have to select I don’t have any of these on the We need to verify your identity page.
We need to verify your identity
On the next page, you have to enter a new contact email address.
Recover your Microsoft account
The lengthy account recovery page that follows prompts you to verify that the account is yours.
Verify that the account is yours
You see now that it is important to enter the correct information when you create the Microsoft account. Aside from personal information, you also have to know things such as email addresses of contacts you’ve recently sent emails to, the corresponding email subjects you used, and email folders you created recently.
Now comes something funny. I tried this procedure several times, and I failed even though I still had access to the account. That is, I could provide all the information because I simply copied it from my Outlook.com inbox. A couple of seconds later, I received an automated email from Microsoft with the crucial sentence:
Unfortunately, we were unable to verify your ownership using the information that was provided.
And when I stubbornly tried it again by entering more detailed information, Microsoft’s recovery program got impatient, and I received an email with the subject “Final update on your account recovery request.”
This is the interesting contents of the email:
Because there have been multiple unsuccessful recovery attempts for this account, we recommend at this point that you create a new account. It’s quick and easy, and we have tools to help you import contacts, connect with Facebook, and even receive messages from multiple email accounts.
Well, what can I say about this recommendation? I suppose most users won’t be in the mood to create a new account “at this point.” It is not just that you will have the inconvenience of informing all your contacts that you have a new email address. If you used this account to sign in to Windows 8 or Windows 10, creating a new account won’t really solve your problem, and connecting to Facebook is certainly what I am least interested in doing “at this point.”
I don’t know why the account recovery failed. Considering that I wasn’t able to reset my password with this identity verification form, even though I had full access to my account, I conclude that quite a few users will have fun with this procedure.
Sign-in is blocked
It is interesting to note that I had not forgotten my password when I started the procedure. When I first signed in from a second machine with my new Microsoft account, I probably accidentally entered a wrong password and then I solved the captcha incorrectly a couple of times (spam bots are much better with this than I am). The result is that sign-in to Outlook.com is blocked from every machine except the one on which I created the account. So I have all the information about the account, including the correct password, I am signed in and have access to the account settings, but I am unable to unblock the account for other machines.
Outlook.com - Sign-in is blocked
Recovery code and recovery app
By the way, if you think that the recovery code for your Microsoft account or the identity verification app on your phone could be helpful in this situation, these verification methods are reserved for when you try to sign in from a location or device that Microsoft considers as suspicious. If you didn’t configure one of these methods, you will have to enter a code that Microsoft sends to your recovery email address. However, these recovery methods are useless if your account is blocked.
Lost password without Internet access
Another problem exists with resetting a Microsoft account password if you use the password to sign in to your Windows 8 or Windows 10 machine. Let’s assume you entered the recovery email correctly and received a password reset code. If the computer on which you forgot the password has no Internet access, you won’t be able to sign in with the new password. If you have no other account for this computer and have to sign in to establish an Internet connection (for instance, if you use a mobile plan), you are in trouble.
So now what? Importing contacts from Facebook into your new Microsoft account? You have better options. The good news is that it all works without filling out endless forms and scratching your head over unsolvable captchas. The first thing you have to do is create a new local account for your Windows 10 machine. This can be done easily even if you are unable to sign in. I will cover the procedure in my next post.