Personal and Work accounts; what’s the difference?

Click here for the previous article

Following on from our previous article, where we summarised the basic differences between the account types, we realised that the amount we could say about it in detail is quite a lot. To avoid swamping users with a wall of text, we’re going to break it into smaller parts with the aim of making it easier to understand why these difference account types exist and why it matters to you.

To begin with, we’re delving into the history of home and business accounts, and how these user accounts have changed to fit the needs of modern users.

In the 90s, computers were set up as workstations, and by that, I mean they were set up with an individual login for an individual user as if they were a home computer. Microsoft then changed this model so users would have a central hub computer called a server which would handle the login details for all the workstations. This meant that it didn’t matter which workstation someone sat down at, their login and password would be the same. That was the beginning of the split between Home and Business use cases.

Homes were expected to just have one computer, and therefore all the login authentication was done on that machine with ‘local accounts’. The idea was each user in the family would have their own account stored on that computer which would bundle together their preferences and hold their passwords and access permissions.

The idea of having a dedicated ‘server’ computer in the office to handle the login authentication for all the computers across the business, worked brilliantly. With the introduction of Cloud computing, during Windows 7, Microsoft therefore decided that they would create Microsoft Accounts to offer the same functionality for home users.

What they didn’t do is combine the two methods of login authentication, which means that a given user can have two account types attached to one email address:

  • A ‘Personal Account’ which travels with them whether they are employed or not.
  • A company-specific ‘Work or School Account’ login for the job or company they are currently working for.

The problem occurs when someone in a business uses their personal use Microsoft Account to buy the Office App subscription for home use but hands out those licences to their employees as if they were their family members, the licence allows you install it on up to 5 devices after all.
The issue there is that the accounts belong to an individual at the business, rather than belonging to the business itself. In our next article, we’ll look further into what makes this distinction important.

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