Changing primary Microsoft Account alias will require hard reset on Windows Phone

A few days ago, Microsoft announced that it was now allowing anyone who used its online account could now change their primary alias to any of their other aliases. While this was certainly a welcome change for many of those users, it also has a large consequence if they own a Windows Phone device.

According to Winsupersite, changing the primary alias will no longer allow a Windows Phone product to sign into Microsoft's services, unless the owner decides to implement a hard reset on that phone. This is due to the basic architecture of the OS and affects all versions of Windows Phone. Changing the primary alias on a Microsoft Account does not affect signing onto a Windows 8 or RT PC, an Xbox 360 console or the Outlook or SkyDrive services.

According to Microsoft general manager Eric Doerr, the issue with Windows Phone will be fixed sometime in the future, but did not offer a specific date. He also said that the company is working on a solution that will allow users to merge two accounts into one. He added:

The important thing for customers to know is that we get it. We get that life is complicated. We get that different people want different things. And we are working to give them that flexibility. We will try to do the right thing by these folks.

In the meantime, if you own a Windows Phone and want to change your primary alias on your account, you better be prepared for a hard reset or wait until Microsoft issues a patch that eliminates that option.

Source: Winsupersite | Image via Microsoft

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18 Comments

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That's interesting, I switched my alias and the phone has worked as normal. According to what I read, you can sign into things with either alias no matter which is the primary. Perhaps doesn't affect it until it is turned off and then on again?

I've switched my alias and rebooted my phone a few times. Everything works as it should. I think that as long as you still have your old email as an alias all is well.

This is a big issue IMHO. also they need to clean up issues for business use of the phone. Work for a small company and we have bought a few Windows Phone, but issue it having to create a new outlook account on each phone just to download a app.

WP8 here, used an alias when setting up the phone and messenger/facebook did not work. Changed the alias to a primary in outlook fixed it.

So, Android and WP both require hard resets when changing email addresses....

How come iOS is able to have its iCloud account changed without a reset?

Even with the idea that Android is a little bit more flexible here, I expect because iOS designed iCloud after the fact, whereas both Microsoft and Google tried to start people immediately in their sandboxed accounts. In a lot of ways it's also because iCloud is a lot simpler.

Honestly, the sandbox environment should be setup so that apps are fed the overarching account, and then app developers can trigger a request at runtime for the user to select the user that they wish to act as. From there, if there is only one account, then it gets fed to it without the user even knowing (assuming the app is already approved to do this via installation approval). If there is more than one active account on the phone of interest (e.g., two MS Accounts), then it should ask the user, giving them the opportunity to select a default, but otherwise always asking before entering. Once selected, the user environment should be stood up for the app isolated from the other account(s), and from there the app developers should honestly be unaware of which account that they are using except perhaps its rights (imagine one account has a 25 GB Skydrive account and another has a 5 GB account). User isolation is not the same as sandbox isolation though, similar to how selecting "install for all users" and "install for current user" exists on Windows, which would allow sharing between apps that want to share (e.g., place all of the in-app purchases in a shared area, while putting scores in the user's folder).

That way, on a Windows Phone, I could associate the account that I share with my fiancee with things like MS Store and Xbox Music, mark them as a default, and never think about it. But my Xbox Live games could be my personal MS account in-game, but still purchased using the store account; I would have to select them once on first use based on the aforementioned trigger.

A secondary developer API could be written for the more complicated case of multiple simultaneous accounts. Realistically though, beyond one-time overrides that could be done on-demand, there are very few cases where a secondary account is ever going to be wanted within a single app simultaneously. It's easy to imagine cases of wanting an app to be multi-account aware (switchable), but not multi-account interactive (shareable).

They're going about it backwards by messing with the accounts rather than simplifying the process at the gate.

Apps that use services to do all of the work with some minor local storage (e.g., Skydrive) are meant to be single user during their use, but transfers make a lot of sense between accounts. Some apps shouldn't care about which account so much as that you have an account (e.g., Xbox Music), while many others likely don't care about other account so much as that you can have one or more (e.g., Angry Birds should store your scores in your account's Xbox Live Cloud, that way different kids can play their accounts using the same phone).

If they did it right, then I should be able to run _two_ (really any number) instances of the same app given that number of different user accounts, such as two separate instances of Skydrive. Clearly it depends on the app whether that makes any sense, but the more important apps it probably do in most cases (even if it would require some complex way to start up the second instance).

paulheu said,
And this is news and/or a surprise how? Seriously, it must be a slow news day.

Yeah news that WP is bad is not news, lets post only the sales of WP ... oh wait.

Spicoli said,
It works that way on Android too if you change email addresses.

You can clear all the google apps data from the menu and you'll be prompted to configure your primary account information, where you can add a different one.

I have two google emails on my android phone and i can change between them while browsing the appstore and similar things.

Or do you mean if i change the email associated with that google account?

No, it does not, you can switch your accounts at will. Applications that were licensed to your other account won't work but the data on your device would be fine