Solving “There’s already an account ...” Microsoft login problem

Trying to login to Microsoft can get into a strange loop being told “there’s already an account” but then “That Microsoft account doesn’t exist.” for the same address! Amazingly both messages are right but not well worded.

How can a Microsoft account login (email address) both exist and not exist at the same time?  Has Microsoft created  Schrödinger’s Login where the customer is in a paradox of quantum superposition?

Two types of Microsoft account

The problem is Microsoft’s badly documented difference between a work/school login and a personal login.  All Microsoft accounts are either work/school or personal. The same email address can be used to make both a work/school Microsoft account and a personal Microsoft account.

Microsoft doesn’t explain that difference very well, or at all. It’s a distinction not always understood by Microsoft own staff and associates.

It’s quite possible for someone to use the same email address as both a work and personal Microsoft account.  

If you try to login with an email setup for either type of account, the user might be asked which account you want to use.

Source: Microsoft

Knowing that hidden secret of Microsoft accounts, let’s look at those strange error messages.

That Microsoft account doesn’t exist

You’re trying to login and get an error like this:

” That Microsoft account doesn’t exist. Enter a different account or get a new one. “

That Microsoft account doesn’t exist. Enter a different account or get a new one.

FIRST: carefully check that the email address is exactly correct. Usually this error appears because of a simple typo.

Assuming the typing is correct, and the email address is for a current Microsoft account, why is the error appearing?  Because the type of Microsoft account you’re trying to use is not the type of account needed for that login.  For example, trying to use a personal login for a business-only service.

The error message isn’t well worded … here’s better text …

That Microsoft work or education account doesn’t exist.


That Microsoft personal account doesn’t exist.

The error message is trying (badly) to tell you that the email address login doesn’t exist for the type of Microsoft account required (either work/school or personal).

It looks like there’s already an account ….

If you choose the ‘get a new one’ or other option to make a Microsoft account, chances are you’ll get this confounding error.

“It looks like there’s already an account with [email protected]????.com. If it’s you, go back and sign in. Otherwise, choose another username.”

It looks like there’s already an account with [email protected]????.com. If it’s you, go back and sign in. Otherwise, choose another username.

The error message isn’t complete, we’d like to see better explanations like this:

It looks like there’s already a work/school Microsoft account


It looks like there’s already a personal Microsoft account

At the moment, neither error message nor the logins show the important difference between the two types of login.  Microsoft apparently expects their customers to understand the distinction by mental telepathy!

These login loops can happen in software or on Microsoft’s web site in many different locations. 

Try to work out what type of login Microsoft is expecting (work/school or personal), knowing that should explain the original error message and, hopefully, point to a solution. The most common problem we’ve seen is trying a personal Microsoft account login to access a business/education only service.

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