February 20th 2009 2:04 am PT

Windows Live ID’s and Gamertags

I want to take a moment to talk about Windows LIVE ID’s and Gamertags. Recently,

there have been a few stories about Gamertags becoming unrecoverable. I want to set the record straight, and let you know what is going on, and what we’re doing about it.

What happens:

In the rare case that you DO NOT sign in to Xbox.com or another website that uses Windows LIVE ID (like Hotmail) it is possible that your Windows LIVE ID expires (goes dormant.) 

An Xbox LIVE Gamertag is unrecoverable from the system only when the associated Windows Live ID has become dormant and the Gamertag has been deleted from all Xbox 360 consoles. 

Members with dormant Windows Live IDs can continue to enjoy the benefits of their Xbox LIVE Gamertags on their Xbox 360 consoles, including earning Achievements; however, they will not be able to use their expired Windows Live IDs for activities such as account management on Xbox.com.


It is important to note that an Xbox LIVE Gamertag is unrecoverable from the system only when the associated Windows Live ID has become dormant and the Gamertag has been deleted from all Xbox 360 consoles.

What you can do to prevent having any problems:

We recommend that people log into their Windows Live ID on Xbox.com or Xbox LIVE Marketplace on the Web at least once every four months.


What we’re doing:

We are actively working on an update that will allow you to link your Gamertag to a new Windows Live ID if one becomes dormant.

If anyone should have an issue regarding their Xbox 360 or Xbox LIVE account should visit xbox.com/support so we can assist you.


Archive By Larry Hryb, Xbox LIVE's Major Nelson

  • padilla21 Live

    thanks for the news major N!


    I use my log in, so this is a non issue for me. I am impressed that you have taken notice of a problem and are fast at work to fix it. Good job!

  • p0yo77

    i have my account linked to a gmail (with net passport obviously) account, is there any chance i can have problems of this kind???

  • w0lrah

    Now will they ever fix it so we can change the Live ID login without messing with the account? I have three years of Connect history and even more XBL tied to a Hotmail account I will never ever use again, and it won’t let me change.

  • Louie

    Fix this problem asap.

  • KefkaticFanatic

    Good work getting right on to fix this.

  • BrarStar

    thanks major

  • Kagai

    Wouldn’t it be better to join the gamertag and LiveID so that anytime you log onto your xbox console it will consider you logged onto your LiveID, that way people won’t have to worry about this issue at all?


    It might come handy in the near future, good job!

  • aka Scratch

    Thanks Major that’s some good info. Another reason to use a memory card and become a part of the xbox.com forums.

  • SouthPaw

    Just shows you never use Hotmail.

  • A Place for Us

    Does Hotmail (or whatever it’s called now) still expire after 30 days?

  • Vasilii Zaytsev

    Thanks Major, but I’m really surprised that people are having problems. More than four months without checking your email? :|

  • MadPanzerguy

    I mainly just want to know why “@verizon.net” is not a valid email service that can be linked to a Live ID. It irritates me that I’m stuck with it being associated with my now defunct “@optonline.net” email address.

  • AnEternalEnigma

    Now add E74 to the three-year warranty and everyone will be happy.

  • Xbox Sonic

    thanks for explain and advices

  • IconicSoulJA

    I use Gmail. No problems. I use Hotmail for school stuff. Less space needed.

  • DeadMeat1240

    Well, you might want to wait a few days to use the support page. Tonight it seems to be acting wonky too. No one can register a console, start the repair process, or check on repair status.

    Mo problems!

  • XeonFive

    Thanks for clarifying Major. I was always curious as to how that worked since I knew Live addresses go ‘dormant’ after a while.

  • Osty

    If you have any doubts at all about possibly losing the email linked to your Live ID, go change it now. It’s pretty simple to do, and most email addresses will work (gmail.com is good).

    1. Go to https://account.live.com and log in
    2. Click the “Change” link next to your email address on the page
    3. Choose the “Use your own email address” radio button under “Change your Windows Live ID”
    4. Put in your address and save

    You internal Live ID number will stay the same (so-called PUID, the number that identifies your account), but your login will now be your new email address. I did this a couple years ago and it worked just fine with my Xbox Live account. It’s pretty much seamless.

  • PiNkEyE69

    I have a different problem.
    My sons account’s email account (yahoo, not hotmail) has been deleted but his 360 profile is ok.
    The problem is I can’t change his email to a new one he has because he’s forgot the password to his live id, and the only option if gives you when you try to recover the password id is to send a reminder email to the email account, which no longer exists.

  • JAMS77

    My system has been slow as hell since I got it back. The person on the phone was real nice and understood what I needed done. The computer shit was bunk cause I had to give all the same info over again.



    you can’t change your basic Live ID e-mail address (in my case hotmail). Only an alternative e-mail address. That’s still stupid because I don’t wanna use the hotmail e-mail address for years now and it’s very annoying that you can’t change your Live ID e-mail. So you can only change an alternative e-mail address and the e-mail contact on you Xbox Live account, but that doens’t change the main e-mail address problem *sight*

  • killdavid77

    Is that mean I have to used a new email address for my Xbox Live

  • Denouncer ZA

    “however, they will not be able to use their expired Windows Live IDs for activities such as account management on Xbox.com”

    So does that mean you can’t upgrade to Gold if your membership has reverted to Silver? Or can this still be done through the Xbox dashboard?

  • asphaltOnline

    Thanks for the clarification Major!


    As you can see… there still a lot of questions to be answered :o)


    Wow you stay on top of it! Good lookin out

  • Opticon12000

    oh cool i didn’t know this. yeah making a redirect email account will be a good idea :)

  • SeraphTC

    Does using the account to log into any of the Messenger flavours prevent it from going dormant, or do we have to log into a web service like xbox.com or live spaces?

  • MetalGearFloppy

    It might be an idea to tell the people on the UK support lines to stop telling people that there’s no fix and they have to start new gamertags then.
    My daughter was gutted that she’d have to lose her gamerscore,etc if she wanted to get a gold account (due to her windows live ID expiring).

  • Saiyan III


  • tabicat

    Major, what about the issue described in this thread:


    I have a child silver account, and whenever my Xbox prompts for the Live ID password for that account (e.g. to approve Friend requests), I get a message that says that Xbox Live is not available. I believe that the problem that you describe here is the root cause for the problem that I and others have with child accounts. Can you comment on that?

  • DL CyberSkull

    Ugh. These things shouldn’t be allowed to expire in the first place!

  • Secret Fuller

    I need a update that will alow me to use my account that has been stolen on 1st February. This is my new account so i lost all my games. XBOX Customer support says that i never bourght those games. So xbox live is S*H*I*T! STOLEN MY MONEY MY GAMES MY XBOX 360!!!!!. and i had 10 months gold and they gave me 6 months gold. N-e-r-d-y f****** b-a-s-t-a-r-d-s. Stole my stuff and never gave me nothing. They wouldn’t ever reply. Major! Make this happen!!! (SORRY ABOUT THE LANGUAGE)(IM VERY MAD!)

  • Secret Fuller

    Make it more secure!

  • Turtle502

    I don’t understand why Microsoft insists on deactivating dormant accounts. I don’t know of any other competing service >that I use< that deactivates accounts after a certain period of time.
    Another related issue I’d like to see MS work on is changing regions when justified. I just went through the hassle of modifying somebody’s home network so he could finally connect his 3-year old console to Live. Unfortunately, his console’s locale was set to “Sweden”…and now his Xbox Live membership is region locked to Sweden! And it appears there’s no way to change it, other than creating a new Gamertag…at least according to MS. Even changing the country in the Windows Live ID doesn’t make a difference. I understand the need to lock things regionally, but there needs to be a little more flexibility built into the system when honest mistakes happen.

  • The PerfectCr

    Thanks Major. I created a gamertag for my son, using his GMAIL account as the Windows Live ID. Even though the Gmail account has not expired, the Windows Live ID expired because I had not signed in to xbox.com for a very long time. As a parent, I lost total control over the gamertag. :( As a result I had to create yet another gamertag for him.

    Major, signing into xbox.com periodically should NOT be a requirement and disabling control over gamertags is bad business (as you hopefully now realize). I hope you and your team are working hard to resolve this issue.

    Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to the community!

  • The PerfectCr

    < <<<<<<<<<<<<<< forums.xbox.com/.../ShowPost.aspx
    I have a child silver account, and whenever my Xbox prompts for the Live ID password for that account (e.g. to approve Friend requests), I get a message that says that Xbox Live is not available. I believe that the problem that you describe here is the root cause for the problem that I and others have with child accounts. Can you comment on that?>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I also had this issue. Since the Windows Live ID was disabled you are not able to control the child account as a parent anymore without creating a new gamertag and new Windows Live ID. :(

  • Secret Fuller

    Major Get to grips with this stuff. I WANT MY MONEY BACK! NOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!! im tired of waiting 2 months

  • Barb130

    I just hit this issue with my brother and probably will with my neices.
    I tried to upgrade his account to gold, but of course the account was dormant. So we had to create the new gamertag.

    I am glad MS is working on fixing this but this is the second issue they have had with tieing gamertags to live ids.

    When the 360 first came out we were encourage to create bogus hotmail accounts and we were told how to link and unlink those accounts. Then that ability mysteriously disappeared (and we weren’t told it was going to happen) and when the messenger feature appeared we all had these problems because some people had their gamertags tied to accounts they didn’t use messenger on.

    How about a little warning when a gamertag is created that we should use an actiive email address? That would have gone a long way. The impression that you are hiding something creates distrust amoong your customers.

    I’ve worked for a software company and when we were changing features that will change the way the install base uses the product, we informed them that we were designing the change and provided them with what they needed to do to prepare for the change. And in the case where we didn’t see the problem coming we had fixes/workarounds in days.

  • No Fear Man

    This happened to my daughter’s account when I bought her the Zune for Christmas. I couldn’t link her Live account to the Zune because the Live ID went dormant. I had to give her a brand new gamertag and she lost all of her achievements AND let’s not forget the saved games you lose that are tied to your gamertag.

  • Warrengonline

    Did you go to the Console Settings tab and re-initiate console set up? Even before NXE I was allowed to change my region, but then (at that time) I DID have a U.S. Xbox360 that was built in 2006. Not sure if that makes a difference, but have you tried that?

    @Secret Fuller
    Tip for passwords: Use a combination of lowercase & uppercase letters mixed with some numbers (NOT your full birthdate). Example: rAingearS1350 (rAinbow6 + gearS of war + S1350), that’s 13 characters (for those lame five+ character logins). And oh, remember, sex,love and god are the most used passwords (taken from Hackers – ha ha ha ha). Although this won’t really defend much against keystroke loggers. :(

  • Twister65


    I changed my login Live ID associated with my XBL account without any problem. It used to be a Yahoo account, but now it’s my Hotmail account. The only catch is that I had to do it ON my Xbox, since there was no way to do it on the web site.


  • Turtle502

    @Warrengonline — it doesn’t matter, once you setup (even accidentally!) a gamertag on a console that has its locale set to a certain region, that gamertag forever becomes associated with that region. If my friend wants to pay for MS points, he has to pay in Swiss dollars! From what I’ve read, there’s no solution to this problem.
    Not for anything, but the whole gamertag/Windows Live ID/Gold association mess is a result of something developed from a business/corporate perspective, not from a consumer perspective. You SHOULD be able to login with just a gamertag and password, you shouldn’t be required to create a Windows Live ID, and you should be able to transfer your Gold membership from one ID to another. And you should be able to change regions on your gamertag, because people DO move.
    Bottom line: A gamertag should never be prevented from accessing the service. And GOLD gamertags should NEVER EVER be prevented from accessing the service for as long as that membership is valid. Microsoft should be checking to see if a Windows Live ID is associated to an active gamertag before they disable it. It’s like the validation only works in one direction…

  • P00K

    “Members with dormant Windows Live IDs can continue to enjoy the benefits of their Xbox LIVE Gamertags on their Xbox 360 consoles, including earning Achievements; however, they will not be able to use their expired Windows Live IDs for activities such as account management on Xbox.com.”

    It’s not just account management on xbox.com, Major. My kid’s accounts are locked out this way – and they have parental controls set. That means I can’t promote them to gold, I can’t approve adding friends to their friends lists, I can’t adjust their gameplay settings, nothing. Their accounts are at this point no better than a local profile… probably worse.

    @Denouncer ZA: You’re correct. You cannot upgrade to gold or perform any account management whatsoever on the account, even using the console. It’s not just an xbox.com thing.

  • Warrengonline

    I’ve heard that, I’ll run a test after work this evening. My Xbox360 is ‘odd’, so I’ll report that while recording it and posting it on youtube – if I am indeed to change it. I did it with some Spanish region – after my first Red Rings – by mistake. I can not remember if I went back during setup or afterwards, that makes a difference.

    I agree your point about gamertags NOT being able to connect to the service after XX amount of time of not being connected via LiveID is valid. Why? Military personnel move all the time (along with their families/game players) that should have been implemented a while ago, but at least it is being working on now. It really bites when not only do you HAVE records of your purchases and can verify ALL of the account information, you still remain in ‘denied’ status. What’s the point for all the security questions on a simple “Hey is Live still down?” phone call. God forbid this ever happens to me personally – I’ll be back on eBay getting my 3DO and NeoGeo fix in full force, bypassing this type of headache and heartache (games and gamerscore gone = time AND money gone). I see this as being no different than losing all of your tax files or product licenses. :(

  • HunCity87

    This has happened to my little brother, and now he’s also stuck with the Family Settings intact too, but can’t change them as his Windows ID is dormant..

  • LoneRanger17

    I’m glad Microsoft is now looking at it. My wife ran into this issue. She connected her yahoo account to the Windows Live Id. So when she logs into her yahoo…it doesn’t count as a Windows Live Id login. And she would never log into the forums on Xbox live. So when she tried to renew her gold membership, her Windows Live Id had been deleted for inactivity. Meaning she could never use her gamertag online. Ever. So I would assume just about every casual gamer out there will run into this issue eventually. I second what someone else said earlier, when you log into your console, that should count as a Windows Live Id login. That simple.

  • oO Creech Oo

    So Major, does this news mean I will actually be able to recover my account that has been closed? I go out of the country on business for a couple of years and come back, and not I can’t use my account….YAY!