Existing customers of Office 365 should have received an email notifying them about an upcoming change for March 2013: The sign-in experience will be improved with a new interface that is compatible with different devices (laptop, tablet, phone, for example). In addition to that, Microsoft states that “This update provides easier and enhanced access to Single Sign On for federated users and is designed to save you and your users’ time by simplifying your subsequent sign-in process.”
But how does this easier and enhanced access for federated users work?
The old (current) Sign-In Experience
Visiting https://portal.microsoftonline.com now, you will get to see the following log in screen:
When you enter a username for a federated domain (I setup ADFS federation for hybridoffice365.com as part of my hybrid demo environment), the screen changes slightly: you can’t enter your password anymore, and a link appears at the bottom of the log in form, asking you to sign in at your domain:
The new Sign-Experience
The new log in form has been redesigned and made look nicer:
Once you enter your federated credentials here you are then being redirected immediately to your ADFS server’s login page, without the need for the user to click on the log in link himself:
Benefit: Users don’t need to click a link to get to the right place, and their sign-in experience is improved by making it easier and faster to get access to Office 365!