Microsoft has come in for a bit of stick in security circles for only allowing a 16-character password for sign-ups to Outlook.com, Redmond's newly launched Gmail rival.
The service – which has already attracted more than a million sign-ups – has a maximum password length of 16 characters, the same as Hotmail.com and Windows Live ID. Yahoo!, by comparison, allows up to 32 characters (although its minimum of six is too short, even for a complex password).
Experiments by Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, suggest that Google supports password lengths well over 32 characters. "When registering an account with Gmail, I was unable to hit a limit on password length," Cluley explains in a blog post. "However, as I tried to log into an account I had created with a ridiculously long password I was told I could only enter 200 characters."
The length of a password is less important than its strength, which depends on whether the login credential uses a mix of letter, numbers and non-alphanumeric characters (good) or words that might be found in a dictionary (terrible). But length is a factor is password strength and there's no good reason for Outlook.com to be more restrictive on this point than either Gmail or Yahoo!, its main competitors. Read more...