Switching your Hotmail or Live to Outlook.com? Here’s what you need to know for Windows Phone.

There's a risk to changing your LiveID on Windows Phone

With today’s announcement of Outlook.com many of you have noticed that if you were logged into Hotmail with your old account and navigated to Outlook.com you were automatically logged in to the new “preview” of Microsoft’s new email service.

What’s more, you actually have the option—even on an old Hotmail address—to change it to @outlook.com. But there is a catch for Windows Phone users…

WP Central

First off, Microsoft has done a wonderful job with the new Outlook.com system—it is simply gorgeous and it has received near universal praise from users so far. What’s more, Hotmail users can transfer their account to @outlook.com or @live.com, which is a massive improvement from the previous system.

A few months ago, we detailed a in a how-to guide what it means if you have a @hotmail address and wanted @live.com instead. In short, you had to create a new account and use an Xbox 360 to migrate all of your Zune Pass, Xbox 360 and Windows Phone purchases over to your new account. You then had to hard-reset your Windows Phone to get the new account up and going. It worked (we did it) but it was a pain and a little scary.

With the new Outlook.com system, anyone with any account can “upgrade” to @outlook.com or even @live.com if they still want that. What’s more there is no trickery involved as the system will propagate all of your previously linked accounts to your new one (it may take a few days).  That’s the good news.

The bad news is this: you still need to hard-reset your Windows Phone to get the new account as there is no way to de-link your LiveID on the phone. That’s a big risk as you’ll lose your text messages, Xbox LIVE scores and progress, app settings and more.

Our recommendation for most of you is to do this:

  1. Create a new ‘alias’ with the @outlook.com email you want; don't just create a new Outlook account**
  2. Wait for Windows Phone 8 to come out
  3. When you get your new Windows Phone 8 device then make the switch to your new account

To do that you’ll want to then delete your alias and then re-name your account. It may take a small delay before the system frees up your alias so do it in the middle of the night so no one can grab it on you!

If you want to create an alias now, simply go to More Mail Settings --> Create an Outlook Alias and you’re done.

Either way, you’ll want to reserve your Outlook email address via a new account or alias ASAP so that no one else snags it from you. You can then wait till Windows Phone 8 comes out and start fresh with a new Outlook account.

Go to www.outlook.com though to get started today.

** Note: If you create a 2nd account to later transfer, you will lose your previous app purchases and such. In such a case, you'll want to try our old method (via an Xbox 360) or just use an alias for now to grab that email until you can switch them around later this fall. Also, if you reserve an email address and later delete the account, it can take up to 270 days before it is freed up again! Choose wisely.

Have any more tips? Let us know in comments and we’ll update this post with them!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • This article is 10 min too late for me :D
  • Same here...
  • same here... lol.  O well, glad I switched.  Old email address was way too long and used a couple _s which was a pain in the butt...
  • Crap. To late for me too. I just created a brand new microsoft account for [myname]@outlook.com. I can't create an alias for that anymore. Any idea if I close my new @outlook account, will I be able to use that as an alias?
  • You can but there is an unspecified delay until it will be free again.
  • Shoot. Just fount out that if you close your account, the email is reserved for 270 days. Anyone know a way around this?
  • Read our old guide (linked in the article) and transfer your email via an Xbox 360--that should change all your accounts to the new @outlook.com email address with your purchases. It's how I switched from @hotmail.com to @live.com and kept everything.
  • If you do this do you keep the 25GB Skydrive allocation?
  • According to the previous article, no =(
    Trying to figure out if its worth it. Also gonna contact MS support to see if there's anything they can do for me.
  • It should since you are renaming the old account that had access to the 25GB, shouldnt be removed. But thats human logic, MS logic may be different....:)
  • I think with all the confusion, Microsoft has got to put out a method that lets us merge a newly-registered @outlook.com account with an existing past live/hotmail account
  • Do you think in WP8 there will be a way to change Microsoft Accounts though? That way you would preserve everything. I am one of the many that made a new @outlook.com login rather than an alias. I'm hoping in WP8 that I will be able to switch Microsoft Accounts and migrate all of my data over. Do you think that will happen?
  • Is there no way to do this without an XBOX?  Is there a way to do it in Win8?  I don't have an XBOX but I have been running Win8 with each iteration of it.  I created a new Outlook.com account, and I'd like to move to it, but don't want to lose my app purchases.  :(
  • Actually, I prefer keeping my Live ID, only because it's a shorter domain. Don't see any benefit personally (apart from those who just prefer Outlook.com) in using a longer domain.
  • 12h Later the World looks better again :D. Thank's to Mcrosoft Support and a Hard Reset everything is the way it should be just in Metro and with outlook.com at the end. I have to say I am very impressed by the way MS handeled it after the srew up...
  • mreck... were you able to do this after opening a new outlook.com account and then they reversed the action so you could migrate your old hotmail or live account and services?
  • Its a good hour too late for me :P WP8 GET HERE SOONER!!
  • So for some reason the xbox 360 beta doesn't have an option to change live ID...........  is there any recommendations on how to get my app purchases back?
  • Apparently this will also mess up your messanger, as it still only changes your email address and not your live id. FML this sucks so bad, I was afraid this would happen.
  • Ok, purchases are back, messanger still not working
  • you lost app purchases on your phone?
  • If you don't change association with your Live ID through xbox, yes, you lose your purchases. That said, the xbox beta moved the change ID under account security, but I'm having problems accessing that. You also mess up access between your Windows Live Messanger friends, as your friendship is based off Live ID and not email.
  • I didn't bother changing my account through XBox, and I didn't lose any purchases. It's a bit of hassle to set my phone back up and re-download everything after the hard reset, but totally worth the effort IMO. Can't blame everyone for being cautious, though.
  • If you change your address through outlook.com you keep everything - app purchases and 25gb SkyDrive. You just have to reset your phone (believe me I spent 3 hours reinstalling my apps, but I didn't have to repurchase anything). I think this is a good system, the biggest problem is wp7 itself and the inability to change the primary live ID. So basically there is no need to do the Xbox workaround as long as you are just CHANGING THE NAME of your account eg from x@hotmail.com to y@outlook.com, which the new outlook site allows (your old address remains as an alias so all your contacts and newsletters can still reach you for anyone hesitant to change address). If you want to make a separate and new account and migrate your app purchases then you need the Xbox method.
  • I got my name as a new email. Score. Other then that, I'm keeping my MSN email.
  • Exactly what I did. Not sure if I'll ever fully migrate over. I kinda like my msn.com email.
  • Just curious. It would be nice if one would be able to save his text messages to a backup location. But i don't think thats possible with WP7.5?
  • No, that feature is coming in WP8
  • There was a program I used that would force Zune to do a backup. Idr the name tho. It was on xda
  • Backs up your texts. Idk if it'll restore them after a liveID change though
  • If you're with Rogers in Canada, Rogers one number saves all your activity to your computer, including texts, to all phones, not just WPs, but I don't know where you're from :P
  • Might be worth mentioning that switching will make you loose all your paid Apps on WP
  • Right, only if you create as second account but not within one. I'll clarify that. Although you can then transfer it via Xbox 360 and it will work that way like it used to in our old guide.
  • I "Updated" my live-ID to Outlook and my Zune telle's me I bought the App's and I Could reinstall them but as soon as I want to do so on the Phone it telles me it costs and I can't change it on the xbox cause there it is the same accocunt outlook to outlook....
  • Might be worth mentioning that this is, in fact, not a certainty. I renamed my live.com account to a new outlook.com email address and didn't lose a single thing.
  • Only if you make another Xbox account.
  • Yay got my name!
  • This was my plan but what gives me pause is..
    Nearly everybody knows me at my @live address. When I move to @outlook, will emails originally intended for @live automatically go to the new address? If there is a seamless transition so I dont "lose' peoples emails, then this is exactly what I'll do
  • Switch it and then grab your old email as an alias ;-)
  • Oh snap you're a genius lol
  • When you switch, it will automatically create the alias for you.
  • Just forward emails from your new Outlook address to whatever account you want, or create an alias. Easy as that.
  • Hopefully these new accounts won't screw up Messenger, Twitter, and LinkedIn integration for Windows Phone users.
    My EDU email address was originally a Hotmail account, but this moth they forced them all to Live@EDU, which made it an Outlook account.
    Now my Messenger, Twitter and LinkedIn don't work right on my WP7.  See this KB article: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2599552
    Also see my Microsoft Answers posts here: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/winphone/forum/wp7-wppeople/messenger-contacts-always-offline-not-linking-with/1e960759-d706-4af5-a813-148224cc0bb8
  • Might be better to do an alias vs a new account as you have to delete the new account you created and it takes 270 days apparently before that email is released.
  • Anybody know what if happens if your hotmail account is tied to your xbox live account, and you change the hotmail account to an outlook address, how would that affect xbox live account?
    Then how would i tie my xbox live account o the new outlook account?
  • It should transfer all your services. But you can go into Xbox 360 and change your email address that way too and that will shift your account to your new email addy.
  • sweet thanks
  • Looks like the best way would be to switch to an Outlook account then change your 360 to use that address then signing into your phone. That should link your Xbox live purchases to the new Outlook id.
  • Do I have to move to @outlook? I want to keep my @hotmail
  • No
  • Can we just keep our old hotmail address.I never switched when they changed it to live mail.And would rather not change it now either.
  • Yes! You will never have to switch from @hotmail if you don't want to. The team confirmed this today.
  • I don't think..i'd change my "@live.com" to "@outlook.com"...because..in the long run...i'd like to remind myself that I was using a windows account from back when it was "@live.com"..
  • I feel the same way about my @hotmail account