Microsoft Accounts and the Catch 22
Nothing makes my head hurt like trying to bring some order to my Microsoft Account situation. Like many people, I have a trail of Microsoft Accounts, although to be honest, some started life as Live accounts and Passport accounts. I have my Hotmail account, multiple accounts using my work email in its various incarnations, as well as the account on my personal domain, Ladewig.com.
At one time I kept these segregated because they were used for different things and had different personas. The accounts tied to work email were used for work purposes; for personal items I used the Hotmail account and later my Ladewig.com account. Since none of it really tied together, it wasn’t a problem to have different accounts aside from remembering which ones I used for which sites.
Then Xbox Live comes along accompanied by Zune Music Pass. I used my Hotmail account for those (to my everlasting regret), and life was good. Then came Windows hone which wanted you to logon with a Microsoft account. By this time I had my Ladewig account, but because my Xbox and Zune subscriptions were tied to Hotmail I used it. Then along came Windows 8. It too wants me to logon with a Microsoft Account. At this point I really preferred to use my Ladewig account, but all the services I was using were on that Hotmail account that at this point is seems like more and more of a bad decision.
I thought about changing the account I was using, but I’d read too many posts about issues with subscriptions getting screwed up. My Music Pass account has the 10 free tracks option on it, grandfathered from the Zune days, and I’d prefer not to lose that, so I just let it be and tried to not let it bother me.
But yet more services arrive. OneDrive, Office 365, and so on. I bought Office 365 University and thought, I’ll be smart, I’ll buy this on my Ladewig account so that I can start moving services there. My devices were all still looking at my Hotmail OneDrive account, but that was OK because I had plenty of space what with those promotional 100 GB bonuses they kept giving out. But then Microsoft decided to give Office 365 subscribers a terabyte of storage, and then 10 TB on the way to providing in “unlimited” storage. Having 10 TB is great. Unfortunately none of my devices see it unless I logon via the web.
I’d love to have a way to merge accounts, or at least move everything over to one, but Microsoft doesn’t make it easy unless you meet certain restrictions. There is an Xbox Live support article that tells you how to move your Xbox Live account and gamer tag over to a new Microsoft account, but I don’t meet the criteria. Here are the requirements from Move your Xbox Live profile to another Microsoft account on Xbox 360:
Current Microsoft account:
- The current Microsoft account can have an Xbox Live or Xbox Music subscription associated with it, but no other subscription (such as Office 365). Sign in at commerce.microsoft.com to see if this is the case.
- The current Microsoft account has only one billing account associated with it. If you have ever made purchases in more than one country, have subscriptions such as Office 365, or have bought an app through the Windows Store, you may have more than one billing account. Go to commerce.microsoft.com to find out.
- Funds remaining on the current Microsoft account will not move with your gamertag. You can spend the funds and take the related content with you, or you can choose to abandon the funds if the balance is less than $50.00 (or the equivalent in local currency).
- The gamertag has not been moved within the last 30 days. If you try to move a gamertag before 30 days have passed since the last time you moved it, you’ll get the error “Sorry, we can’t change your Microsoft account right now.”
- The gamertag was not created or changed within the last 30 days. If you try to move a gamertag before 30 days have passed since you created or changed it, you’ll get the error “Sorry, we can’t change your Microsoft account right now.”
Target Microsoft account:
- The target account cannot have any of the following associated with it:
- An Xbox Live profile
- A gamertag
- A billing account
- An Office 365 subscription
- OneDrive paid storage
- Any past purchases from the Windows Store
- Any other non-Xbox subscription
Basically you can move your Live profile and the services to which it is tied, but it’s only going to work if you move it to a completely new Microsoft Account. Have an account you’d like to use that you already have? Odds are you used it for something else and don’t meet the criteria.
For me, I almost can make it work except for the Office 365 subscription. As far as I can tell, there isn’t any way to move an Office subscription to a different Microsoft account, otherwise I’d move it to a dummy account, and then move it back after the Xbox Live profile was moved. I could cancel it, but then I’d be out what I paid for the subscription, and I can’t buy a second Office 365 University account until three years after the initial activation. Office 365 University is $79.99 for two computers for four years, so it’s a significant savings over the home subscription, and I’d rather not lose those savings.
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll lose my points over at TechNet where I’ve signed in under different accounts. Maybe I should just suck it up and let the Zune Pass free tracks go as well. And maybe I should just open up the wallet and pay the price for a full Office 365 home subscription. If I really want everything on one account across all devices, that’s the price I have to pay. I just don’t understand why I have to leave that all behind.
I wish I knew the technical reasons why there are all these restrictions on what can and can’t be move and to where, but there are obviously multiple systems involved, and it doesn’t sound like Microsoft has put much investment into making it all work together. Not altogether surprising, but it is disappointing.
Anyone else out there in this same predicament? Find any way around the issues I’m having? Do you know a guy who knows a guy who owes you a favor in Redmond that can make this all go away? I’d love to find out that I’ve missed something in all of this.
Same here – that is one thing Microsoft is not good at – letting us merge our accounts. A pain in the neck to be sure!
Luckily I only ever had one hotmail account from days long ago. I was extremely happy when “outlook.com” released that I was able to get a great account on it on Day One, and just alias it to my hotmail account. They did at least get that part right…