For some time, I had been experiencing a problem when attempting to sign into certain Microsoft accounts based on live.com. (Examples: Hotmail, Health Vault). I was having this problem only in Firefox 33 — not in Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Opera. The problem was that I would open the webpage — for example, I would type live.com in the Firefox address bar — and then Firefox would go crazy. It would cycle around and around. First, it would tell me this:
Because you’re accessing sensitive info, you need to verify your password
Then, it appeared, Firefox would quickly and automatically supply my password, and the webpage would try to verify it. On one occasion, I captured the URL that Firefox was then sending me to:
It seemed that Firefox must have been entering the wrong password, because then I would be returned to the live.com login page. Then Firefox would enter the password again, and we would loop through the same sequence again. This would happen a number of times, and finally it would stop with this message:
Something went wrong and we can’t sign you in right now. Please try again later.
I ran a search to see what might be the problem. It appeared many people were having this problem with a variety of programs, including not only live.com webpages but also when installing Office 2013. There were many suggestions for fixing this, including these:
- Clear cookies and Internet History. In Firefox, I had the option of starting small — clearing cookies for just one site — or of deleting all cookies as well as my browsing, search, and download history. I had often taken this step, losing helpful automatically filled information in the process, and it had often failed to help.
- Before doing that, the first logical step was to check that Firefox was entering the right password, and fix it if not. The solution here, at least for my version of Firefox, was to go into Firefox > right-click on a blank spot on the Microsoft page where I was trying to log in > View Page Info > Security tab > View Saved Passwords > Remove (or, if desired, Show Passwords).
- People having this problem with familysafety.microsoft.com suggested going into the website (presumably through another browser, since the inability to log in would prevent this) and making sure they had a name entered in their personal profile.
- Flopcat98 said (without citing a source) that Microsoft offered several suggested solutions: change the target Microsoft URL to be https rather than http; URLs containing “TodayLight.aspx” would cause problems; clear cache and cookies; and make sure to use the latest Microsoft Silverlight.
As I say, the first logical step was to make sure I was using the right password. So I took the steps in option 2 (above). But that did not work. For one thing, the password being automatically entered was the correct one; and when I deleted it anyway, the looping behavior continued. I did have a password manager program, LastPass, but that was set not to log me in automatically, so it couldn’t be the culprit.
I wondered whether a Firefox add-in might be responsible for this behavior, so I restarted Firefox in Safe Mode. Safe Mode was supposed to start Firefox with all add-ons, themes, and Java scripts disabled. There were various ways to start it. I just used the Safe Mode icon in my Start Menu. That seemed to be the solution: now Firefox was not entering the password automatically when I tried to log into live.com. I tried manually entering the correct password. That worked.
So now it was a question of which add-on might be responsible. And, what do you know, my first guess was on target: it was LastPass after all. When I disabled the LastPass add-on (Firefox > Tools > Add-ons > Extensions tab), the password was not automatically entered, and the live.com webpage patiently waited for me to supply one; when I enabled the LastPass add-on, it immediately entered the password and the looping dysfunctionality commenced.
There appeared to be two problems there. First, as I say, I had LastPass set to not attempt an AutoLogin. This meant that it should have auto-filled my username and password, but should not have hit Enter. If that had been working properly, again, there would have been no looping. But, second, LastPass was entering the correct password, so there appeared to be a problem with the Microsoft webpage. I suspected that, in fact, both problems were on the Microsoft side — that it was somehow misinterpreting or overreacting to whatever LastPass was doing. I was not having this sort of problem when logging into any other webpages, so it did not seem to be a LastPass issue. But nobody else seemed to be having this problem.
Another interesting possibility, among the four listed above, was that my live.com login problem was a side effect of the inability to install the latest version of Microsoft Silverlight. Another post details my extensive Silverlight troubleshooting efforts. If that was the problem, I was not sure I would ever find a solution.
The final possibility was just that I needed to clear cache and cookies. Given multiple Firefox problems (involving Silverlight and live.com), it seemed the time had arrived to try that. Following Mozilla’s guidance, I cleared the cache, in my version, by going to the menu button (i.e., the Chrome-like symbol with three horizontal bars, at the upper right corner of the screen, like ≡ ) (or they could have just told me to go to the Tools option on the menu) and choosing Options > Advanced section > Network tab > Cached Web Content > Clear Now. It said I had 348MB in the cache. It appeared I didn’t have anything in the Offline cache, so there was no need for further steps there. I closed and restarted Firefox. Clearing the cache had not solved the live.com login problem. (It also had not solved the Silverlight problem.)
I probably should have begun by clearing the cookies, since I guessed that would be where a stored password would be more likely to have been saved. Mozilla’s instructions in this regard were to go back into Firefox > Tools > Options > Privacy > History > Use custom settings for history > Show Cookies > select live.com > Remove Cookies. That was supposed to remove the cookies just for live.com. Sadly, that didn’t solve the live.com problem.
Impatient, I went back into the same Options place and clicked Remove All Cookies instead. That wasn’t the solution either. Making a clean sweep of it, I followed Mozilla’s instructions to clear my history. This involved a different menu location: History (instead of Tools > Options) > Clear Recent History (or just hit Ctrl-Shift-Del) > Everything > check the desired items (but perhaps don’t wipe out e.g., Session Manager Saved Sessions). I took an aggressive stance at that point, wiping out many things. Firefox became unresponsive for a minute or two.
I killed and restarted Firefox. Now the live.com webpage was functioning correctly: LastPass filled in the password, but there was no looping behavior. I was able to sign in successfully. It appeared that clearing some portion of my history was the solution. Next time around, it seemed I might begin by trying to clear the history just for live.com, if possible.