On start, the Xbox app on Windows 8 dev preview automatically creates a new randomly generated gamertag for whatever email address you log into live with. This is a terrible design decision that has left me with a mess in my microsoft account(s). If you are using multiple email addresses and intend at any point in your life to use Windows 8, you will be screwed over just like me if you use any other email address to log into windows 8 unless you read this and avoid my unwitting error... or unless someone at Microsoft gets their head screwed on straight and fixes this very poorly thought out software design or fixes their stupid email address login change process. I now have three accounts thanks to trying to follow the migration instructions, and after talking with support, I am stuck waiting for 30 days and will have to re-enter all of my billing information into a separate account, just because of bad design decisions.
I created a new Windows 8 dev preview VM in VMware to play with earlier. Having messed with Windows 8 last spring, I had already created a microsoft id login and password that I intended to use going forward in Windows 8. My Xbox gamertag has been associated with a completely different throw-away email address that I only used for xbox live since early 2006. Accordingly, I logged into my windows 8 VM using that new microsoft account.
It imported my name etc from my microsoft ID, and then I thought I'd mess with the store and other features just to get some familiarity. I launched the Xbox application that is included with Windows 8. The application ASSUMES that the email address for your microsoft ID is the one that your Xbox ID would be associated with. If there is not already a gamertag associated with that account, it pseudo-randomly generates one for you and associates it with the microsoft account you are logged into. You are now screwed if you intended to unify your accounts.
Why it's broken:
So now you have two gamertags and two email addresses, and you decide that you want to fix this and get your gamer tag associated with the account you're going to use going forward. If you go to the support page it tells you in all seriousness that the best way to do this is to create another live account just to migrate the gamertag you don't want over to it. This is stupid as hell since it clutters their database with throw away accounts and imposes unnecessary complexity on the user (who must either run multiple browsers in parallel or keep logging in and out to perform this feat). In theory, this will then allow you to migrate your gamertag over to the new email address you want to use as your microsoft id. In practice however, you are stuck waiting a completely arbitrary 30 days, because you can only migrate a gamertag to a different email address every 30 days, and Windows 8 creating one for you at random COUNTS AS A MIGRATION. So I now have my original throw away email address with my gamertag still stuck to it and no way to use it in Windows 8 without creating additional headaches (such as associating any store purchases or preferences with an account I now know I need to close). I have the account I want to use stuck with a pseudo-random gamertag, and finally I have the additional throwaway account that Microsoft told me to create in order to park the useless pseudorandom gamer tag they generated for me without me asking.
I tried a couple of other approaches, including this gem: I tried to kill my newer account and then just change the email address for my original xbox-live-generated microsoft account. If I go to the close my account option on the newer account, it tells me that I must first cancel my subscriptions and microsoft points, and the only button it presents says "ok". I have no subscriptions or microsoft points associated with that account (and none are shown if I click those sections of my profile). Thus, for no reason, it is impossible to delete the account to free up that email address and attempt to make the change another way.
Customer service cannot fix this problem, even though it is painfully clear how irrational it is, and it is inflicted on the customer by Microsoft. Customer service cannot merge two accounts over which I have obvious and total control, and I just have to wait 30 days and hope I don't make a mistake and stick myself with another 30 day window of waiting for no damn reason whatsoever. So, as an iOS developer who was interested in playing with windows 8, I am now just not going to work on it for at least 30 days, since anything I do, I will simply have to redo after I migrate everything around in this enormous train wreck.
The obvious fix:
Either in Windows 8, or on the web, Microsoft should provide a utility for merging accounts and selecting which email address should be primary for login etc. Frequent hotel stay and frequent flier programs offer this functionality online, it's ridiculous that Microsoft does not.
Thank you for sharing your story, SolidBrass. I would encourage you to post this in the Wishlist/Feedback section here: forums.xbox.com/.../default.aspx. This will make sure your feedback reaches the optimal audience. Thanks very much!
How to use the forumsRetired Support Agent - No PMs please!
Points very well taken, SolidBrass.
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