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IE11 syncs Web passwords across Windows, Windows Phone 8.1

Password sync, now on IE11 on Microsoft's newest operating systems, makes moving among PCs, phones, and tablets easier. It's also handy for Microsoft to keep customers in its ecosystem.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise processors, semiconductors, web browsers, quantum computing, supercomputers, AI, 3D printing, drones, computer science, physics, programming, materials science, USB, UWB, Android, digital photography, science Credentials
  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Stephen Shankland
2 min read

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With the latest versions of its desktop and mobile operating systems, Microsoft synchronizes passwords for websites people visit with the Internet Explorer browser.

The sync service means that a password entered on IE11 on Windows 8.1 will be migrated to IE11 running on Windows Phone 8.1 , Microsoft said in a blog post on Monday.

IE11 also does a better job of detecting login pages so that users will be prompted to save passwords more often.

Passwords, although an onerous part of the computing world, are ever more common as companies try to build direct relationships with customers through user accounts. Making passwords easier to handle -- especially on mobile devices where it's harder to type oddball combinations of letters, numbers, and punctuation -- is a significant time-saver for people.

Sync services are also a good way to encourage people to keep using the same browser. Once a browser remembers how to log in automatically on a lot of sites, moving to another browser is more of a hassle. That's especially true when people forget their passwords.

Microsoft is no doubt keen on keeping its IE users loyal as it faces strong desktop competition from Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and strong mobile competition from Chrome and Apple Safari.

Microsoft has another lever to push here, too: Windows apps distributed through its app store. These apps can use Web technology for login through Microsoft technology called the Web authentication broker.

Browser sync services have become a bigger deal as computing companies branched out to tablets and smartphones. With browsers spanning those machines and others like TVs, cars, and game consoles, sync services can ease the difficulties people have moving from one machine to another.