Windows Phone 7 Live activation issues

A small number of UK Windows Phone 7 users have been held back from using their new mobile phones due to an activation problem relating to their Live accounts showing up within the operating system. 

The problem comes about when a user tries to associate their Windows Live account with the Windows Phone. It displays a message stating that "Product Activation Failed" and that you are required to enter a manual activation code from Microsoft support. While this doesn't seem to be too much of a problem, those who have bought their new phones on Saturday or Sunday will find out that the UK support team does not work on weekends and thus you have to wait until at least Monday until the problem can be resolved.

The reason behind the error can be found online from Microsoft, although many users are flummoxed because no details are ever given to the user about why it comes up in the first place:

In Windows Phone 7, during your first Windows Live ID sign in, a background validation is performed prior to completing the sign-in process and connecting to Windows Phone 7 services such as Xbox LIVE, Marketplace, and Hotmail. In rare cases where this validation fails, you may be prompted to enter an activation code before Windows Live ID sign in can be successfully completed.

This isn't the first problem that has shown itself on the newly released Windows Phone 7 devices. HTC has been having a number of problems with Xbox Live Extras and some GPS issues.

Thanks to Neowin reader SLYSY on the forums for letting us know about this problem.

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64 Comments

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Got mine today. In fact, 10 minutes ago. Got the same issue. The "info" screen about activation is poor. You click the link to call customer services and it takes you to the dialpad. I dont know what the damn number is!
Also, be careful when logging into gmail accounts. When the phone asks for your username @googlemail.com doesn't work. I had to make mine @gmail. Even though I use @googlemail.com EVERYWHERE else. Just a heads up for people.

Izlude said,
Does anyone know if Phone7 still has folders and a file explorer?
#

They did have one in the First beta release - but it's taken out for users. It's very close to IOS in that sense, and less like Android & WinMob.

DKAngel said,
Wtf do u need to activate phones these days? wth happened to buy mobil put sim in and wulla it freakin works

Just for the fact that my contacts list and calendar is stored on the internet, I love having my phone tied to an online account!

I think the activation should be more like Windows 7 for PC, with 24 hour support for manual activations and a 30 day grace period with full functionality. To have no suppport all weekend right after launch is very poor.

I've been unable to download or play any games on my phone all weekend due to this issue.

MS are coming from way behind and they need to cover a lot of ground to get anywhere now, they have had the time and they have the money to execute their launch perfectly. Anything less than perfect will look very bad. This includes hardware, software or other.

Julius Caro said,
I don't care if the affected are ten people or ten million. Why does a phone need 'activation' ?

It's more for your Windows Live account, than the phone itself - the phone will work without it. It's most likely to ensure that the DRM can be authorised and work properly with your phone (for the applications and music), effectively authorising that device to use content that you've bought tied to your Windows Live ID..

Then I guess "A small number of UK Windows Phone 7 users have been held up from using their new mobile phones " is a bit of an overstatement.

Julius Caro said,
I don't care if the affected are ten people or ten million. Why does a phone need 'activation' ?

Agree, the tie in should be optional.

WP7 you need a Live Account
Android a Google Account
iOS a Apple Account

They should stop it.

Julius Caro said,
Then I guess "A small number of UK Windows Phone 7 users have been held up from using their new mobile phones " is a bit of an overstatement.

A bit, yes. They can still use their phone, they just won't be able to download applications/music until they activate their Live ID.

You don't need a google account on your android phone for it to work. Neither does the iphone. You do need an account to download apps, but that's pretty understandable. On the iphone, however, you can't do much at all if the thing isn't activated against their servers.

Julius Caro said,
I don't care if the affected are ten people or ten million. Why does a phone need 'activation' ?

I think you're massively underestimating the complexity of a connected device like a smartphone. You don't *need* a WLID to use a WP7; it will work without, you lose marketplace, apps, Zune, XBL etc. The activation screen you're seeing is a Windows Live ID account activiation screen. The phone itself isn't activating.

ironmysox said,
I rang Microsoft customer services and was activated in less than 10 minutes.

It's not *as* big a deal, because unlike with the iPhone... it effects a minuscule amount of people, and even then you can still actually use your phone, you're not stuck with a brick waiting to be activated

~Johnny said,

It's not *as* big a deal, because unlike with the iPhone... it effects a minuscule amount of people, and even then you can still actually use your phone, you're not stuck with a brick waiting to be activated

Whoops, sorry this was meant to be a reply to Neo.'s post below >__<

sask said,
At least these are software issues that can be easily fixed unlike a hardware issue...

It's not even particularly an issue with the phones either - at most if there were any software issues it would be with the server based activation, but that should be pretty mature code by now... surely they activate Xbox Live accounts the same way? Either way it mostly just seems to be support isn't there on the weekend.

My biggest reaction to that screenshot is the concern for the number of boxes.... Why are they requiring users to punch in such long codes? That would annoy the hell out of me since many phones lack a hardware keyboard and A3D4J8 isn't something Auto Correction would pick up on...

Frazell Thomas said,
My biggest reaction to that screenshot is the concern for the number of boxes.... Why are they requiring users to punch in such long codes? That would annoy the hell out of me since many phones lack a hardware keyboard and A3D4J8 isn't something Auto Correction would pick up on...

It's only a one-time thing, if it even occurs for the user.

Frazell Thomas said,
My biggest reaction to that screenshot is the concern for the number of boxes.... Why are they requiring users to punch in such long codes? That would annoy the hell out of me since many phones lack a hardware keyboard and A3D4J8 isn't something Auto Correction would pick up on...

Coincidentally, you need 25 alphanumeric characters to cover 128 bits of data. log _36 (2 ^ 128) = 24.76

This suggests that you're basically entering the entire activation reply code that would have otherwise come from the server. It's not some sort of reduced fingerprint.

Calum said,

It's only a one-time thing, if it even occurs for the user.

Doesn't matter. That would be enough to **** me off. Unless I had a vested interest in keeping the phone I'd return it. I can't see any logical reason for making the user type such a long code into a mobile phone to use its sync feature.

On the PC activation makes sense, but you'd imagine that HTC or whatever OEMs are selling Windows Phones have actual licenses for them...

Since the license is genuine they should compress any activation codes to be short so they are easy for a user to enter on their phone while mobile (people do use these things out and about...)

Frazell Thomas said,

Doesn't matter. That would be enough to **** me off. Unless I had a vested interest in keeping the phone I'd return it. I can't see any logical reason for making the user type such a long code into a mobile phone to use its sync feature.

On the PC activation makes sense, but you'd imagine that HTC or whatever OEMs are selling Windows Phones have actual licenses for them...

Since the license is genuine they should compress any activation codes to be short so they are easy for a user to enter on their phone while mobile (people do use these things out and about...)


as a user of prepaid card in a dumbphone...I want to say Hello.

Well it's hardly that great a problem if they've already got provisions in place to handle it. I'll also have to say that I've been keeping up with Windows Phone 7 news from everywhere, and this is the first I've heard of it, so it must be an absolutely tiny issue =/

~Johnny said,
Well it's hardly that great a problem if they've already got provisions in place to handle it. I'll also have to say that I've been keeping up with Windows Phone 7 news from everywhere, and this is the first I've heard of it, so it must be an absolutely tiny issue =/

But they haven't got provisions in place! The Support Centre is closed on weekends!

~Johnny said,
Well it's hardly that great a problem if they've already got provisions in place to handle it. I'll also have to say that I've been keeping up with Windows Phone 7 news from everywhere, and this is the first I've heard of it, so it must be an absolutely tiny issue =/

Me too, the 3 or 4 phone tech sites I hit haven't said anything about this issue yet.

Off topic though, it seems the marketplace, as of the 23rd is at 910 apps. Should hit 1k either on the 24th or the 25th!

bbfc_uk said,

But they haven't got provisions in place! The Support Centre is closed on weekends!

The support centre is the provision - it's an extremely rare case scenario, and instead of just bugging out and not letting the user do anything, they've actually built some handling into the UI to take care of it - and they have a system ready to give you a code to do it. So even if it's not open on weekends, they have got a safety net in place instead of leaving you screwed and out in the cold.

Edited by ~Johnny, Oct 24 2010, 3:34pm :

~Johnny said,
The support centre is the provision - it's an extremely rare case scenario, and instead of just bugging out and not letting the user do anything, they've actually built some handling into the UI to take care of it - and they have a system ready to give you a code to do it. So even if it's not open on weekends, they have got a safety net in place instead of leaving you screwed and out in the cold.

There was a fault at their end and the "safety net" doesn't work on weekends. The end result is that customers are completely out of luck. You can't praise a company for something that doesn't work.

theyarecomingforyou said,

There was a fault at their end and the "safety net" doesn't work on weekends. The end result is that customers are completely out of luck. You can't praise a company for something that doesn't work.

You can praise a company for having a safety net - it's not a live or die issue that significantly destroys the usage of your mobile communications device. And the safety net does work? You call them, they give you a code. Wait 48hours at the very most isn't going to kill you, you can just go on using the rest of the phone? The customers aren't out of luck if they know there is a solution to the problem - it's at most an inconvenience.

~Johnny said,

You can praise a company for having a safety net - it's not a live or die issue that significantly destroys the usage of your mobile communications device. And the safety net does work? You call them, they give you a code. Wait 48hours at the very most isn't going to kill you, you can just go on using the rest of the phone? The customers aren't out of luck if they know there is a solution to the problem - it's at most an inconvenience.

Exactly. And I'm sure they'll start staffing the call center on the weekend now too.

Well at least it's happened early in the game and not down the line with the 3rd or 4th generation of the devices . Problems happening now will mean that they shouldn't reoccur later!

djdanster said,
Well at least it's happened early in the game and not down the line with the 3rd or 4th generation of the devices . Problems happening now will mean that they shouldn't reoccur later!

Isn't this the seventh iteration of windows mobile?

DomZ said,

Isn't this the seventh iteration of windows mobile?


Nope, it's an all new codebase! It's no more the 7th iteration of WinMo than OS X 10.0 "Cheetah" is the 10th version of Mac OS.

DomZ said,

Isn't this the seventh iteration of windows mobile?

Yes, it is but I think it is the first one that uses the Windows Live Id to log into the phone. It is similar to signing into an Android phone with your google account.

day2die said,

No. That's why it's not name Windows Mobile. Its predecesor is the Zune HD.

Actually, it just looks a lot like the Zune HD interface, but it's a ground-up new build. That's why it's also "Windows Phone" instead of "Windows Mobile" now. They want to move away from Windows Mobile. Which is correct in my opinion. Windows Mobile is absolutely not what you should see on a device today.

DomZ said,

Isn't this the seventh iteration of windows mobile?

As others have said, this is complete rewrite. It shares nothing with Windows Mobile and so it's to be expected that some issues may develop. But I'm sure they'll be resolved.

I'd be a bit annoyed if this happened to me and then found out that UK Support is not available on weekends - the time when most people will buy a phone! Then again, didn't the iPhone suffer a similiar activation issue? Teething problems that MS will iron out quickly.

bbfc_uk said,
I'd be a bit annoyed if this happened to me and then found out that UK Support is not available on weekends - the time when most people will buy a phone! Then again, didn't the iPhone suffer a similiar activation issue? Teething problems that MS will iron out quickly.

Yeah that is my main reasoning behind the story. Fine an activation issue isn't much of an issue (even though it shouldn't happen) but if you tell users to call support, at least be open for them, heck it is their launch weekend.

Byron_Hinson said,

Yeah that is my main reasoning behind the story. Fine an activation issue isn't much of an issue (even though it shouldn't happen) but if you tell users to call support, at least be open for them, heck it is their launch weekend.

It's certainly a bit of a shambles! I hope it doesn't affect too many UK users.

Byron_Hinson said,

Yeah that is my main reasoning behind the story. Fine an activation issue isn't much of an issue (even though it shouldn't happen) but if you tell users to call support, at least be open for them, heck it is their launch weekend.

Doesn't that have more to do with UK labor laws than what MS can do? Like here in Greece EVERYTHING is closed on Sundays unless you sell some form of food, but anything outside of that, nope. And it's part of the law, no gov offices are open on Sat or Sunday either.

GP007 said,

Doesn't that have more to do with UK labor laws than what MS can do? Like here in Greece EVERYTHING is closed on Sundays unless you sell some form of food, but anything outside of that, nope. And it's part of the law, no gov offices are open on Sat or Sunday either.

Nothing to do with that.

Most, if not all, shops are open on a Sunday in the UK (Sunday Trading Laws mean they can only trade for 6 hours). Most Call Centres are also open 7 days a week.

bbfc_uk said,

Nothing to do with that.

Most, if not all, shops are open on a Sunday in the UK (Sunday Trading Laws mean they can only trade for 6 hours). Most Call Centres are also open 7 days a week.

India`s policy is best for this, every employee is entitled for atleast one weekly holiday, So big corps make groups like half people off on saturday and rest on sunday, so we consumers are always winers. But government offices follows same policies like rest of the world all employees gets holiday on same day.

bbfc_uk said,

It's certainly a bit of a shambles! I hope it doesn't affect too many UK users.

Considering this is the only place on the internet that seems to have record of this problem, it's probably effecting less than a handful of people? Maybe even just one or two (considering there aren't too many phones out there anyway at the moment).

It's also worth pointing out this is nowhere near as bad as iPhone activation issues - Microsoft's activation servers aren't down, and you can still continue to use the phone without. It's not that much of an issue - if it blocked you from using your phone for a few days then maybe, but that's not the case.

~Johnny said,
It's also worth pointing out this is nowhere near as bad as iPhone activation issues - Microsoft's activation servers aren't down, and you can still continue to use the phone without. It's not that much of an issue - if it blocked you from using your phone for a few days then maybe, but that's not the case.

I'm sorry but this is unacceptable for a launch weekend. For the first month of a big launch like this they should be anticipating higher support demand and prepare for that accordingly. We're not talking about a small business here. This product has been hyped for months.

~Johnny said,

Considering this is the only place on the internet that seems to have record of this problem, it's probably effecting less than a handful of people? Maybe even just one or two (considering there aren't too many phones out there anyway at the moment).

It's also worth pointing out this is nowhere near as bad as iPhone activation issues - Microsoft's activation servers aren't down, and you can still continue to use the phone without. It's not that much of an issue - if it blocked you from using your phone for a few days then maybe, but that's not the case.

Hopefully it won't turn out to be a major problem anyway, though not many phones have sold yet and none of the uk stores seem to be advertising it either which is very strange and poor on either their part or Microsoft's. It'll be more interesting to see what happens when it launches in America

bbfc_uk said,
I'd be a bit annoyed if this happened to me and then found out that UK Support is not available on weekends - the time when most people will buy a phone! Then again, didn't the iPhone suffer a similiar activation issue? Teething problems that MS will iron out quickly.

Yea, my first iPhone, the 2G took 2 days to activate.

Byron_Hinson said,

Hopefully it won't turn out to be a major problem anyway, though not many phones have sold yet and none of the uk stores seem to be advertising it either which is very strange and poor on either their part or Microsoft's. It'll be more interesting to see what happens when it launches in America

I notice, it was kind of a very timid launch - and there's still a general lack of availability of the devices (though it's only been like 5 days), most stores are expecting shipments this week so hopefully they'll ramp up advertising too! Though I was pleasantly surprised to see the "Really?" advert on during XFactor.... not that I was watching XFactor or anything

~Johnny said,

I notice, it was kind of a very timid launch - and there's still a general lack of availability of the devices (though it's only been like 5 days), most stores are expecting shipments this week so hopefully they'll ramp up advertising too! Though I was pleasantly surprised to see the "Really?" advert on during XFactor.... not that I was watching XFactor or anything

Thought the advert was good too - problem is without the devices being in stores people won't care in the end.

Byron_Hinson said,

Yeah that is my main reasoning behind the story. Fine an activation issue isn't much of an issue (even though it shouldn't happen) but if you tell users to call support, at least be open for them, heck it is their launch weekend.

I agree. Though problems can certainly happen, and this would be far from the first phone that had activation problems (And they appear rather limited at that), they should have staff working weekends. I'm sure they'll be resolving this.