Microsoft promises fewer forced sign-ins to Visual Studio

Developers had griped about frequently re-entering credentials to access the company's IDE; now, sessions should last for months

Users of Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE no longer have to re-enter their credentials frequently, a requirement that raised the ire of developers. Now, they can stay signed in for months at a time.

Previously, developers had to sign in every 12 hours if they were accessing Azure cloud resources, but that requirement is now gone. "This addresses the most commonly reported sign-in issue," said John Montgomery, Microsoft director of program management for Visual Studio. "The next time you’re prompted to sign in, Visual Studio will follow the authentication flow that lets you stay signed into the IDE without re-entering your credentials every 12 hours."

Factors such as administrative settings on a developer’s Azure Active Directory can affect just how long before a developers sees a sign-in prompt again. But generally, the log-in experience should be extended from hours to months, according to Microsoft.

Visual Studio users had told the company they were required to sign in way too often, Montgomery said. He linked to one complainant protesting over this this issue: "Pretty much every time I fire up Visual Studio I get greeted by the little yellow warning symbol asking me to re-enter my credentials. I check the 'Remember my details' box (or whatever equivalent) but it makes little difference."

While gripes about signing in every 12 hours, in the case of Azure access, might make it sound like Visual Studio users are literally coding from one end of the day to the other, InfoWorld writer Martin Heller, a user of Visual Studio, explained how the situation was not that cut and dry. "If I open VS at 9, go to a meeting at 10, work till 1, go out to lunch, work till 6, hit the gym and have dinner and then come back to resolve an open issue, I consider it one VS session." Sign-ins have become a burden, he added. "In the old days we entered a serial number once at install time on our one and only machine, and never had to sign in. The advantage of sign-ins is that we can move from one machine to another and retain our settings.’

The fix detailed this week is server-side, compatible with all Visual Studio versions supporting Azure development back to Visual Studio 2012. During the past year, improvements were made including offering a keychain with Visual Studio 2015 to make it possible to manage multiple identities and have single sign-on. Other updates affected core services such as licensing and roaming, allowing users to refresh their license or roam their settings for as long as a year without being prompted for credentials.

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