Microsoft account aliases – simplified

By Kip Kniskern | Posted August 21, 2013 38 comments

Back in 2011, Microsoft began the process of simplifying the way you log in to Microsoft services, changing the old multiple account Sign In screen for Hotmail and other services to a single sign in, and has been promoting the use of a single Windows Live ID Microsoft account ever since then. As more and more people began to use single user devices like laptops and smartphones, and consolidated their accounts into a single primary account, having a separate account for each service or each persona (work, home, etc.) became more cumbersome than it was worth.

However it’s still important for many people to maintain some separation between their “personas”, and Microsoft introduced the concept of “aliases” – that is, a single primary account connected to one or more subsidiary accounts, all with the ability to log in to the same services, but having separate identities for email etc.

Today, according to a blog post on the Outlook blog, the process of managing those aliases has been simplified.

Today, we’re replacing rename with a simpler and clearer choice to make any of your aliases a primary alias. We’ve also made it clearer why you might want to do this (and why you might not). Now that you can sign in with any alias, really the only reason to make a different alias your primary one is if you want a different email name to show on your Microsoft devices, like the background of your Xbox or your Windows 8 PC.

To manage your aliases (or make other changes to your account), go to https://account.live.com/, click on “Account aliases” in the left navigation bar, and then follow the instructions.

This change will roll out to all accounts in the next few days.

While the ability to change your primary alias has been around for a while, this new system makes it simpler to use and manage. If you want to rename your email address, for example, you can now set up a new email account, set it as primary, and then remove the old address from the account. You can do this up to twice a week, but if you do remove an account, it will become available in 30 days to anyone who wants it. You can learn more about adding or changing aliases on the Support page.

Do you use Microsoft account aliases? Do you find them to be easier to use than separate accounts? How often do you need to manage your aliases?

Posted August 21st, 2013 at 10:56 am
Category: News
Tags: Alias, Outlook.com
  • efjay

    I presume this procedure still has the requirement to hard reset your WP device?

    • Chen Ye

      Actually- as long as you don’t remove your old alias, it doesn’t, since you can now sign in with any alias.

      • Guest

        But not based on subject and sender. Gmail group messages into conversations if subject and sender are the same. Outlook, however, does not.

        • Chen Ye

          … I think you posted into the wrong thread.

          • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

            I think we can see that, because he deleted his comment.

  • efjay

    I presume this procedure still has the requirement to hard reset your WP device?

    • Chen Ye

      Actually- as long as you don’t remove your old alias, it doesn’t, since you can now sign in with any alias.

      • Guest

        But not based on subject and sender. Gmail group messages into conversations if subject and sender are the same. Outlook, however, does not.

        • Chen Ye

          … I think you posted into the wrong thread.

          • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

            I think we can see that, because he deleted his comment.

  • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

    That’s great news. I’d still appreciate an easy way of combining multiple Microsoft accounts into one. I have a secondary account that I don’t use much anymore, and I’d like to fold it into my primary account as an alias. It’d be a bonus if you could also merge your SkyDrive storage and maybe even keep the total combined space. Fewer accounts for them to manage. Win-win.

    • Shawn

      The problem with that though is people would abuse it. They would register multiple accounts, merge the accounts and get additional storage that way instead of purchasing more storage. That would be a loss to the company. I do agree there should be a way to move an email to become an alias but I believe the only way currently to do that is deactivating the account, letting it free up, and then adding it. But maybe they should offer a merge feature and somehow figure out how to handle the Skydrive storage (maybe based on how long the account was open for or if they’re willing to pay to merge?).

      • DKJr

        Good point

      • Windows Phone Bruker

        They could allow a maximum of five accounts to be merged with the main one. They could also do like they did when they went from 25GB to 7GB that all accounts made before the day they posted the blog entry about it (would be able to keep the 25GB/) could be merged.

        • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

          I think they could allow an unlimited number of accounts to be merged, but the factor on whether SkyDrive space will be merged should be determined on a case by case basis. As in, if you had an account for 5 years and hardly use it and want to merge it, I think you should keep your space instead of letting it be gutted.

  • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

    That’s great news. I’d still appreciate an easy way of combining multiple Microsoft accounts into one. I have a secondary account that I don’t use much anymore, and I’d like to fold it into my primary account as an alias. It’d be a bonus if you could also merge your SkyDrive storage and maybe even keep the total combined space. Fewer accounts for them to manage. Win-win.

    • Shawn

      The problem with that though is people would abuse it. They would register multiple accounts, merge the accounts and get additional storage that way instead of purchasing more storage. That would be a loss to the company. I do agree there should be a way to move an email to become an alias but I believe the only way currently to do that is deactivating the account, letting it free up, and then adding it. But maybe they should offer a merge feature and somehow figure out how to handle the Skydrive storage (maybe based on how long the account was open for or if they’re willing to pay to merge?).

      • DKJr

        Good point

      • Windows Phone Bruker

        They could allow a maximum of five SkyDrive accounts to be merged with the main one. They could also do like they did when they went from 25GB to 7GB that all accounts made before the day they posted the blog entry about it (would be able to keep the 25GB/) could be merged.

        • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

          I think they could allow an unlimited number of accounts to be merged, but the factor on whether SkyDrive space will be merged should be determined on a case by case basis. As in, if you had an account for 5 years and hardly use it and want to merge it, I think you should keep your space instead of letting it be gutted.

  • DKJr

    Just started using this feature and its actually great. Finally able to use my prefered as it has simplified my email address. Other advantage is ability to create multiple addresses with letter combinations of one’s names which helps incase senders make mistakes while typing email addresses.

  • DKJr

    Just started using this feature and its actually great. Finally able to use my prefered as it has simplified my email address. Other advantage is ability to create multiple addresses with letter combinations of one’s names which helps incase senders make mistakes while typing email addresses.

  • Peter Henkel

    Oh c’mon! Bring conversation grouping like in Gmail! How many more YEARS I have to wait to have it?

    • Jose

      What do you mean like Gmail? Outlook has conversation grouping.

      • Peter Henkel

        But not based on subject and sender. Gmail group messages into
        conversations if subject and sender are the same. Outlook, however, does
        not.

  • Peter Henkel

    Oh c’mon! Bring conversation grouping like in Gmail! How many more YEARS I have to wait to have it?

    • Jose

      What do you mean like Gmail? Outlook has conversation grouping.

      • Peter Henkel

        But not based on subject and sender. Gmail group messages into
        conversations if subject and sender are the same. Outlook, however, does
        not.

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    Sounds good to me. I only have a few aliases on my account, mostly for hotmail -> outlook email addresses I wanted to grab, etc.

  • http://www.techmansworld.com/ Michael Hazell

    Sounds good to me. I only have a few aliases on my account, mostly for hotmail -> outlook email addresses I wanted to grab, etc.

  • David

    I just got burned by this, when my previous primary account address simply disappeared as a login address(can still receive email to it). Ironically, I can sign in with any other alias that I have. Of course, I can’t add back my old login as a login alias, because that address is already taken as an email alias.

    Sigh… This is bad because I have a WP, which is now unable to reach my account. I’m not willing to hard reset it just yet. Anyone else seen this?

    • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

      David, was this previous primary account a Microsoft (@hotmail, @outlook, @live, @msn) address or another domain (such as @gmail)? If you can still receive email to that address via Outlook.com while logged in using one of your other aliases, then I have a feeling it’s still in there somewhere. Have you tried managing your aliases at https://account.live.com/Names/Manage? There you should see all aliases associated with your account there, including the one that “disappeared.” Did you recently make changes to your other aliases or select a different one as your primary?

      Good point about WP being tied to your primary alias. I made the decision back in December to transition from my @hotmail to my @outlook. I knew it would mean a hard reset of my phone, so I took the opportunity because I had just upgraded my phone from WP7 to 8. At the time, I actually had to “let go” of my @outlook alias and then quickly apply to grab it as my new primary identity, which pushed my old @hotmail address to an alias. Then I had to update Facebook, Twitter, and other services I frequently use that were tied to the old identity. Finally I set up my phone and when requested, I used my new @outlook as the identity on it. Everything came over smoothly, but there were a couple of minutes in between, when…well, you remember that scene in Jurassic Park when they turn off all the power to reset the system? Yeah, that.

      So anyway, maybe it just needs to be set as your primary again. Should be much easier now. Hope you get it straightened out soon. Best of luck!

      • David

        My old primary login was a @Hotmail address (cool in the 90’s), which still works as an email alias. I haven’t done any other modifications to my aliases recently other than changing the default address to send from. The thing is that it looks like a genuine inconsistency between the Outlook.com and Microsoft Account databases. On the Outlook side, I see it listed as an alias, but on https://account.live.com/Names/Manage it is not listed (nor can I add it). My fear is that this inconsistency will be resolved by removing the alias (which still receives plenty of important email) from Outlook.com, rather than adding it back on the Microsoft Account side. Then I’d be really hosed (more like the scene with the hunter and the raptor, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKRnEOUxZm0)…

        When I clicked “Make Primary”, I actually got an error message saying that the operation could not be completed – twice – before I gave up and decided to wait. Then I noticed that the switch actually had taken place, but only half-way. Can you say Transactional Consistency?
        Thanks, and I’ll let you know how this plays out.

  • David

    I just got burned by this, when my previous primary account address simply disappeared as a login address(can still receive email to it). Ironically, I can sign in with any other alias that I have. Of course, I can’t add back my old login as a login alias, because that address is already taken as an email alias.

    Sigh… This is bad because I have a WP, which is now unable to reach my account. I’m not willing to hard reset it just yet. Anyone else seen this?

    • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

      David, was this previous primary account a Microsoft (@hotmail, @outlook, @live, @msn) address or another domain (such as @gmail)? If you can still receive email to that address via Outlook.com while logged in using one of your other aliases, then I have a feeling it’s still in there somewhere. Have you tried managing your aliases at https://account.live.com/Names/Manage? There you should see all aliases associated with your account there, including the one that “disappeared.” Did you recently make changes to your other aliases or select a different one as your primary?

      Good point about WP being tied to your primary alias. I made the decision back in December to transition from my @hotmail to my @outlook. I knew it would mean a hard reset of my phone, so I took the opportunity because I had just upgraded my phone from WP7 to 8. At the time, I actually had to “let go” of my @outlook alias and then quickly apply to grab it as my new primary identity, which pushed my old @hotmail address to an alias. Then I had to update Facebook, Twitter, and other services I frequently use that were tied to the old identity. Finally I set up my phone and when requested, I used my new @outlook as the identity on it. Everything came over smoothly, but there were a couple of minutes in between, when…well, you remember that scene in Jurassic Park when they turn off all the power to reset the system? Yeah, that.

      So anyway, maybe it just needs to be set as your primary again. Should be much easier now. Hope you get it straightened out soon. Best of luck!

      • David

        My old primary login was a @Hotmail address (cool in the 90’s), which still works as an email alias. I haven’t done any other modifications to my aliases recently other than changing the default address to send from. The thing is that it looks like a genuine inconsistency between the Outlook.com and Microsoft Account databases. On the Outlook side, I see it listed as an alias, but on https://account.live.com/Names/Manage it is not listed (nor can I add it). My fear is that this inconsistency will be resolved by removing the alias (which still receives plenty of important email) from Outlook.com, rather than adding it back on the Microsoft Account side. Then I’d be really hosed (more like the scene with the hunter and the raptor, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKRnEOUxZm0)…

        When I clicked “Make Primary”, I actually got an error message saying that the operation could not be completed – twice – before I gave up and decided to wait. Then I noticed that the switch actually had taken place, but only half-way. Can you say Transactional Consistency?
        Thanks, and I’ll let you know how this plays out.

  • http://www.sadjad.net/ Sadjad Bahmanpour

    I still need to add existing email as Alias, and I don’t want to delete and wait and then add, I want only add existing Microsoft email account. Since they get rid of switching between accounts, now I need to Merge my account, but can’t.

  • http://www.sadjad.net/ Sadjad Bahmanpour

    I still need to add existing email as Alias, and I don’t want to delete and wait and then add, I want only add existing Microsoft email account. Since they get rid of switching between accounts, now I need to Merge my account, but can’t.