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Microsoft’s Passport and Xbox Live

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If you’re a current Xbox Live subscriber and you’d like to upgrade to the Xbox 360, you’re going to have to get a Microsoft Passport ID if you don’t have one already, otherwise you will not be able to move your current account over to the Xbox 360.

The problem? Passport sucks. It was a failure — and even Microsoft has acknowledged that it was a failure, but in their signature bulldogging style, rather than admitting something is bad and scrapping it, Microsoft is just going to force their most dedicated and loyal customers to use this faulty service.

What’s Passport, you ask? There are several answers. The cut-and-dried answer is that it is a service which allows users to store important personal data, such as addresses and credit card numbers on a single login that will follow them as they surf from place to place, thus streamlining online transactions. What’s the opinion-laden answer? It’s Microsoft’s attempt to be in the middle of all online transactions, and that’s without mentioning harping on the holes in Microsoft’s security that were discovered in the Passport service in its early months a few years ago.

Passport sucks. It’s dangerous — people should be MORE careful of their personal information when online, not less — and there was a deeper concern. After all, Microsoft wasn’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. According to an article from last year’s Seattle Times:

As for major merchants, they were concerned about letting Microsoft stand between them and their customers. They feared the company that controlled more than 90 percent of the world’s desktop computers might one day charge a toll on e-commerce transactions.

In the end, old-fashioned competition may have doomed Passport.

Even those who initially supported it dropped the service, like eBay. And after that announcement, Microsoft was supposed to be abandoning Passport.

But wait! It can be salvaged, say the boys at Microsoft. What if we — wait for it — force every Live user to use Microsoft Passport!

And voila… they’re back in business. What’s worse? From the instructions offered on the help page on the Xbox site, it looks like Passport will now be used to handle billing. See for yourself:

1. Gather the same information that you used to sign up for your Xbox Live account: your name, ZIP code, phone number, and the last four digits of your credit card number. You can get all this from Account Management in the Xbox Dashboard. Make sure all the information is exactly as you entered it originally in the Xbox Dashboard.

2. Get a .NET Passport hotmail account. If you have a hotmail account, you’re all set. If you don’t, it’s easy—and free—to set one up. Just go to www.passport.net and follow the directions to set up a new account.

3. Log in with your Passport. Just follow the prompts using the info from the credit-card screen to complete the link.

Otherwise, why would it be linked to the credit card screen? And why do this in the first place? What was wrong with the OLD system? Except for the fact that I found the interface on the first Xbox very difficult to deal with when it came to changing or updating information on your account, since there was no keyboard, it worked pretty well. So why change now?

Of course, one might also ask why Microsoft would try to turn the Xbox 360 into an all-in-one home entertainment system, when word around the campfire is that they approached developers with that very idea when they were working on the first iteration of the ‘box several years ago, and developers said, resoundingly, “No. Make a game system.” And they did. But now they’re back to the idea of using their gaming system as an entertainment hub — and most gamers already have a computer, after all. What we want is what those developers wanted: a gaming system.

Microsoft just doesn’t like to play nicely with the other children — even when “the other children” are their customers or potential customers.

Like many others, I was not going to run out on launch day to buy an Xbox 360, even though I’m a pretty dedicated gamer. I keep thinking I’ll let Microsoft convince me to buy one — after all, Halo sold me, and I’m such a rabid anti-MS person that my husband and I are about to make the switch over to Apple-land. But I’m willing to make an exception for games. However, between this very poor decision and the lack of any revolutionary games at launch, I’m getting further and further away from ever deciding to buy a 360.

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About Alisha Karabinus

  • Microsoft didn’t become get to where they are without knowing how to throw a few elbows.

    I’m glad I am out of the MS business.

  • They are such dirty bastards.

  • This is no big deal – Microsoft already has the same information in any case if you’re an XBox Live member.

    One of the reasons for aligning the two systems is because the 360 is intended as being a collaborative device. The Passport makes it easier to align the two.

    Now, what they could do, and probably will do, is migrate your XBox Live info into the Passport system if you already have both, as most people might.

    XBox Live totally rocks, IMHO

  • Xbox Live is pretty cool and you won’t hear me say much negative about it (except loading your account onto one box from another without a memory card is a pain in the ass if you don’t remember EXACTLY how you typed something, since there’s no f’n keyboard), but the whole streamlining of the 360 and all the other MS crap is one of the reasons I’m NOT going to be buying a 360.

    I have a computer.

    I want a gaming system. I don’t need the BS, kthx.

  • Good report though, totally slipped under the radar, too bad it’s not going on GNews yet

  • Thanks! That’s probably the only compliment I’ll ever get in writing about the ‘box. Just wait ’til tomorrow. 🙂

  • I read that having a Passport account would help in getting your Xbox Gamertag to your Xbox 360. So I made a Passport Account. Which is the same as signing up at the “new and improved” xbox.com.

    As such, setting up my Xbox 360 with my Live account was a breeze, and took only a couple minutes.

    I had to provide my Gamertag, email address, and password. Nothing more.

    This is truely a better way to handle adding/moving Live accounts then in the “old days” of the original Xbox.

  • So your credit card information and all that is still kept outside of the Passport? THAT is good news.

  • Of course, if you enter in the email address of a Passport account that was linked to OLD Gamertag that is no longer active (like I did), God help you. Once you make a profile on your Xbox, you can NEVER change the Passport email account. NEVER.

    And once you link a Gamertag to a passport account, you can never change that either.

    So just be sure you enter the right account, or prepare to spend weeks in limbo as Microsoft tries to correct data in its out of control databases.

    Of course, all this could be avoid if the 360 simple said “Hey, your Live Tag doesn’t match what’s linked to this Passport account”… Especially since it is irreversible.

  • azza

    What the hell? i just want to change from my old e-mail address/passport to my new one and they wont let you? that sucks!

  • blahblah

    screw them they suck balls

  • Robin verw

    Exually, you can change ur passport on a Xbox profile. Just did it yesterday but do not ask me how..