Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Microsoft's email, xbox and messenger woes!

Hi there!

So what's this blog about?

This blog is basically my attempt to collaborate as much information as I can and raise awareness to Microsoft about their unfortunate policy of being unable to change the primary email address on Microsoft Live / accounts.

This is also about a secondary problem which is about linking services with each other, such as Xbox gamers who have linked their Xbox Live gamertags to an account they no longer use.
This could be an forums account or an Xbox Live gaming account (gamertag)

So, what does this actually mean?

Anyone who has signed up in the past to hotmail may have discovered they can use their hotmail account to use MSN Messenger.
Infact most new people to messenger simply assume you need a hotmail account to use it.
The problem comes about when people sign up for a hotmail account to use messenger and email then decide they want to change email address but keep the messenger list.

Reasons for doing so could be many, perhaps to avoid an ex-lover, perhaps due to spam problems, maybe they just don't like their address, - who knows, either way, people like to change email address's!

Why should I care?

Most of you shouldn't!
This isn't some huge conspiracy, it's just a real annoyance for some people and it has been going on for quite a few years.
Most of you who have been affected have probably just created a new account, imported your contacts and be done with it.

What's this about and Xbox Live and linking issues.

If you use the forums to discuss games with people, you're prompted to chose a gamertag.
When you do use the forums You log in with a account.
Now, you decide you want to change your email, so you go about creating a new account (hopefully you've learnt your lesson and made a account with your own email address!)

Here's your problem, you now have a new account which has the right email but it's not linked to your forums account.
You have to still use your old passport account to see your gamertag / information and of course your post history on

Wouldn't it be nice to make that account work with your new passportID or rather, wouldn't it be nice to simply have been able to update your old passportID's primary email without needing to make a new one?

To drill down further, in my case the problem is the following.

  • I have 1 "expired" Xbox Live account I'd like to bring back to life.
  • That account is tied to the account I no longer use, which is tied to an MSN list I'd rather just avoid.
  • I have a new account which is now linked to a new gamertag that I use to post on the forums
    (I really want to get live again but hesitant till this problem is fixed.)
  • I'll be damned if there's a way to get this old gamertag account working again with my new passport id.

On top of all that you also chose a username on the forums, which is not necessarily the same as the gamertag! while this is not as important to me this too would be nice to associate with the right / liveid.

So what, the Xbox linking issue is just a gaming username - who cares what name a kid uses online?

Firstly, gaming is taking off big time and has done for years, a lot of adults do it now it's not just kids.
Secondly, Xbox live now has "gamerpoints" and a real persistent prescence online, people even have "gamercards" to show off their Xbox live acheivements.
There's no way these people with these built up Xbox Live accounts will want to create a new one just to see people on their MSN list.
Furthermore, some of us are just big kids! I like my username, I've been using it for years online I'd like to keep it on live :-)

Finally, who knows what other Microsoft services will be added under the live brand in the future? Having some flexibility on the account is a must.
Finally Finally, the way it's designed seems inflexible and flawed - even if the details are mostly insignificant to most people.

Do you think they can fix the linking issue?

Yes definately, it's software, that's the beauty of computers, hell it's why I got into them, you can do almost anything with them you just have to figure it out.

Here's a theory I have though.

  • Your account has a "uniqueid" - it's also in your cookie, when you go to an MS site, it manages to know who you are if it uses the live / passport signon system.
  • All these other systems have accounts you can log in to, forums, MSN Messenger (the local software package and
  • If you sign in with your NEW id, it would be nice to go to the options and paste in a uniqueID.
  • The system can say, are you sure you wish to change the uniqueid for your account?
  • You chose yes, that server then tells the main server to email both the old and the new accounts, you then log in to the email for both and confirm the change.
Presto, your account on that Microsoft service is linked to a new passport account.
(In theory of course)

Doesn't that sound a bit difficult?

Yes it does sound messy, alternatively I'd be happy if I could just delete my entire account on the forums and Xbox live, I'd put up with losing some forum posts and then with the correct account I'm happy to use I could re-create my freshly deleted gamertag which was associated with the old passport account.

Couldn't that cause some fraud issues?

Maybe, I guess so - if you have the password to the two seperate accounts and the email passwords to two seperate accounts, surely that counts for something.

You're a big baby!

Yes, I know.
Look, it's not the end of the world but it has affected a few people and it's frustrating.

This guy has posted a blog where he seems a bit stuck with the whole problem, he mentions someone called Sylvie Irzi to take care of the problem.

It seems that sshe's the country manager of MSN Belgium, unfortunately we do seem to have more than one country manager, see below

This article discusses the Xbox Live "Friends list" being added to MSN Messenger (you can see your buddies logging in to Xbox Live), it was removed for a while and has returned.
It's great when it works but hey if you've associated your Xbox Live account to a account you no longer use,.. well hmmmm
(and of course you wouldn't have had to make a new account if you could change your email!)
NOTE: check the comments from the users, quite a few a bit stuck with the same issue

Show me the problem in action!

Below is a hotmail account logged into, it can not even see the email change option.

Below is a picture of a normal email account (non hotmail) logged into - email change option is available.

Finally here is a picture of what happens if you paste in the right url while logged in to the hotmail account.
Click the UL here, sign in with your old hotmail based passport.

You should get this error.
"Error symbol You can't change this e-mail address, because it belongs to a reserved domain such as,, or If you want to use a different e-mail address, you can sign up for a new account."

Try the same link with your other liveid / passport, will work fine.

Do you think it's a conspiracy, maybe to keep people from abandoning hotmail?

I don't know, nor do I really care - Microsoft stil have us wanting to use their Live, Xbox, MSN services - they have our email address's, the only disadvantage is not being able to "read our hotmail" if they even do that, I doubt they care.

Got anything else to complain about?

Actually I do!
Since I stopped using that original account, the association with it and my Xbox Live account seems to be broken or at least the profile on the Xbox forums was gone.
I tried to log in to the forums and was greeted with the standard "Chose your new gamertag" option. I then entered my existing one and as you can see, chose "Yes, this is my gamertag, proceed as XYZ" (the recover feature, awesome I thought)

So here I am thinking oh well, at least I'll be able to use my old gamertag, even if I do have to use my old passport account - seems I'm wrong.
Correct information has been entered, yet I can't recover the account!
It's not like it's been deleted, remember the screenshot above? Hmm

So to summarize, I've bitten the bullet and logged in to my unwanted account, tried to link it to the old gamertag it was linked to and it's broken - lovely!
You'll also notice from the error message that it seems any poor Zune owners will have a "Zune tag" linked to their passport account too, it's all fine and dandy to have all this complexity and ease of use with a universal id, but some flexibility would be nice.

What can I do?

Write to your local congressman.
Seriously though, I just don't know! Maybe if we create some noise we can get answers, perhaps just relay this blog to people who are suffering the problem.
Hell maybe it'll just never be solved, another one of those annoyances in life, at least it was good venting it.

Do you have any more information?

Yes, here's some more information and frustration I've managed to gather from the web.

This chap appears to work for Microsoft yet he's a bit stuck on the whole change of primary email address problem himself, I've tried to contact him personally and I'm waiting a response.

Based on the comments in this guys blog, it sounds like he worked with the team,he has now left Microsoft as can be read in the second link. (Yes, I've tried to contact this guy as well, admitedly not too long ago, still awaiting a response)
Overall it sounds to me like it's something they have considered adding.

Information on your uniqueID
Here's some users discussing some issues with passport and messenger, this quote pretty much sums up exactly what most of us are feeling.

"I don't think there was ever an option to change your e-mail address for your Passport login - never heard about it anyway. Which is why I still use my 6-year-old hotmail address that I never check and is riddled with spam ^_^"

This is a site specifically about the Windows Live ID's - several comments there from frustrated users.!AEE1BB0D86E23AAC!166.entry

This one specifically caught my eye - obviously not happy.

"Please give us a way to change our primary email like we could with passport. Below is the last letter I sent to support and I am getting no where. I have on my 10th letter with them :(

"Ok recently I decided to test drive some of Microsoft's new services. While some show potential they all have one very major problem. They require you to permanently convert your Microsoft passport to a Windows LiveID. This at first does not seem like a bad idea.....until you try to change your primary email address or as Microsoft calls it EASI (Email as Sign In). You see like the Passport the LiveID allows you to use your own email address instead of a hotmail address. However unlike a Passport the LiveID does not allow you to change that email at a later date. This in itself would be a minor annoyance if it was not for the fact that the LiveID allows for no way to transfer services to another Passport. For example your XBOX Gamertag per Microsoft Knowledge Base article 906926 is permanently liked to a Passport. Another major problem is that Microsoft is also using the Passport for billing and guess what you are not able to delete your credit card once it has been put on file. So in a nutshell your credit card info could be exposed if say you move to a different ISP and your old email address gets reused. That person goes to create a new passport and the system would tell them it already exist and offer the password recovery feature and bingo they have a passport with your credit card info. This would not have been a problem if you had the option to change your primary email!!! In my case I am an original XBOX live subscriber and we were required to enter a credit card we can't delete the new XBOX 360 people were not. But those of us that already existed were out in the cold. My other problem is my MSDN account. I have not even researched that issue yet but I assume I will get the same answer I got on the Gamertag. Microsoft must allow for us to change our Primary e-Mail or they open us up to fraud. Per Microsoft documentation its it not the primary key on the passport anyway apparently that is a 64 bit Unique ID. Honestly if I had known converting would cause this much of an issue I would have never considered using any of the services. Honestly I think for someone that has over $10,000 of subscription services with Microsoft changing a primary email should not be an issue!
July 15 7:57 AM"

It seems that "Trevin Chow" is the lead program manager on Windows LiveID, I might try and contact him.
Unfortunately I have this strange feeling this decision does not rest with one single user or manager of a Windows system, none the less I'll give it a shot.

/End of EDIT#1

I can't beleive I just read all this!

Neither can I, try writing it all.

Good luck with that!


Any spelling mistakes really don't make any difference! Hopefully you get the jist of what I'm saying.
I could be wrong about some of this stuff, feel free to correct me, no need to abuse me.
I have avoided posting most of my details here simply because I could be either bombarded with information or perhaps I don't want to look like a dumbass if any of this is wrong! :-)
Feel free to use the email address msnemailchange AT gmail ..D.OT com to contact me or comment on the blog.