I created my first email account in September 1999 just after graduating from high school. I was 18 and created an email address that reflected that. In 2006 I was getting tired of all of the spam in my Hotmail inbox. Knowing that my Hotmail address wasn’t very appealing to the adult working population, I jumped on the Gmail bandwagon and created two new email addresses: the first simply transferring my original teenager email address, but this time @gmail.com, the second creating a new email that sounds a bit more grown up and “professional.” And that’s how it’s been for the last few years (and I have since deleted the first of those two accounts). I maintained my Hotmail account because I used it as a junk account.
Well, about a year ago I started to pay attention to the changes that Microsoft has been making within Hotmail. My Hotmail address was now called a Windows Live ID (not sure when that happened) and served as a single sign on for integration with Windows Live and SkyDrive services. I did some poking around and discovered that I could create a second email address for my Hotmail account (Microsoft calls it an Alias) and use both interchangeably from the same place.
The more I used the service the more that I started to like it. I linked Windows Live with Facebook and LinkedIn and could chat with all of my Windows Live, Facebook and LinkedIn contacts through Windows Live Messenger (not to mention Yahoo! and AOL contacts). SkyDrive is a cool service and I like the functionality of the Office Web Apps.
I started using Windows Live Groups for collaboration on papers and PowerPoint projects for school. That’s when I noticed something that didn’t make me very happy. You see, I’d been using my “alias” email address for almost a year and loved it. All of my contacts from ALL of my services were in one place. I thought I had found the golden ticket, the way to escape the foibles of youth. I was wrong. While working on a group paper for one of my classes I noticed that my Windows Live ID (my silly teenager email address) was the contact information being displayed. This made sense, considering that the collaboration takes place on SkyDrive and your Windows Live ID is used to sign in to the service, but it was no less embarrassing. My colleagues assured me that there was nothing to be embarrassed about but they weren’t the ones with the stupid name on the screen.
I went on the offensive. There had to be a way to change my Windows Live ID and get away from that stupid email address. I searched the Account overview page and thought I found my answer. An option to change my ID. I clicked it and was met with this answer: “Your Windows Live ID can’t be changed at this time.” What? Why not? If I have the option to change it, why won’t they let me change it?!
I found the answer in the Windows Live Help forums:
Currently, accounts with domains like @hotmail.com, @live.com and @msn.com can’t be changed.
Because you are using an e-mail address that was provided by MSN or by Windows Live, you cannot change the name of your mail account and maintain your messages and contacts. For example, you are using an @hotmail.com e-mail address, an @msn.com e-mail address, or a Windows Live Admin Center e-mail address.
You can create a new e-mail address and manually forward your e-mail messages from your current account to the new account that you have created.
In a word, frustrated. I can understand that logistically it could be a nightmare for Microsoft to maintain changes to its Windows Live ID’s, especially since there are supposedly around 360 million world wide. But if I can create 15 email addresses (“aliases”) associated with my Windows Live ID and if I can convert a non-Hotmail/Live/MSN Windows Live ID to a Hotmail/Live/MSN Windows Live ID, then why can’t I change my Hotmail.com Windows Live ID? Simply creating a new account and then linking my ID’s doesn’t fix the problem. Since I can’t change my ID, at least be allow me to choose how my name appears to others so that when I’m collaborating on SkyDrive or sending people a chat invite I can present myself as needed now, not how I thought 12 years ago.
One other little change I’d like to see. My Google calendar can sync with my Windows Live calendar. Why won’t my Windows Live calendar sync with my Google calendar?