Using a different Microsoft account on a Windows Phone is not desirable for the following reasons:
The only way to switch to a different Microsoft Account on a Windows Phone is by hard resetting the phone and setting it up again under the different Microsoft Account. A hard reset wipes all your user files and data from the phone, including:
- All Contacts and related contact history
- All Calendar items
- Any paid or free apps
- Text messages
- Sent & received email
- Any PDF files that are stored on the phone
- All Office-related documents that are stored on the phone
- Pictures (camera roll and albums)
- All user-defined accounts & settings (email accounts, wifi settings, bluetooth connections
Much of this data is synced between the phone and its related Microsoft Account, so a hard reset won’t permanently delete it since the data is stored on the Microsoft Account. But setting a phone up under a different Microsoft account means you:
- Lose all the payment history you had under the previous Microsoft account because the phone is no longer connected to the past payment history that is stored in the previous Microsoft account.
- Won’t be able to restore any backed up settings, Internet Explorer favorites, app settings and lists, and text messages that you created prior to hard resetting the phone through the phone’s backup option because the backup files are stored on the OneDrive account that is associated with the previous Microsoft account.
- May lose access to the social connections that are linked to the previous Microsoft account (primarily the related windows live messenger service)
- Lose access to subscribed services (xBox Music Pass) that were purchased through the previous Microsoft account
You can change your Microsoft Account login email address without changing your Microsoft Account
All of my Windows Phones are currently set up under the msn account I created in the early 2000s when there was no such thing as a Microsoft account. At that time I only had one email address that I got through my internet service provider (mindspring.com, which is now part of earthlink.com). Over the years my MSN account evolved into a Windows Live account and is now a Microsoft account. I have several different Microsoft accounts now and numerous email addresses, but I still use the same internet service provider and I still use that email address, not so much for email but mostly as a login to lots of different websites, including as the login name for the Microsoft account I use on all my windows phones.
Using this email address to log into my most important Microsoft Account tethers me to maintaining an ongoing relationship with my ISP even if it no longer provides the best array of services at the best prices to meet my needs. Switching to a different ISP means I could lose access to that email address and then I could have problems accessing my Microsoft services. Do you see my problem?
Luckily, last year Microsoft made a way to change the email address that I use to log into my Microsoft account without losing access to any of the account’s data or services.
We can now switch the primary email address that is used to log into a Microsoft account by creating a new outlook.com email address as an alias on the existing account and then changing the primary alias on the account to the new email address.
1. Create a new email address as an alias on the existing account
From a computer go to the Outlook.com website and log into your account using the same login and password you use to login into the Microsoft Account you use on your phone.
Click your name in the upper right hand corner of the screen (just to the left of the small picture)
Click Account settings. Since you are accessing some sensitive settings, you may have to sign into the account again.
Click Aliases > Add alias
Input a new email address into the space provided to create a new outlook.com email address), or select the “Add an existing email address as a Microsoft account alias” option (*SEE the “NOTES about Aliases” just below the screenshot to learn about the kinds of existing email addresses you can add) and enter the email address in the space provided, then click the blue “Add alias” button. If the outlook.com email address you requested is already taken, you’ll be prompted to try another address. After you’ve selected an acceptable address, click the “Add alias” button again.
*Notes about Aliases:
- You can’t add existing @hotmail.com, @live.com, and @msn.com addresses as an alias to a Microsoft Account
- You can use an existing email address from a different provider such as Gmail, Yahoo! Plus, AIM or from a private domain or ISP to create an alias as long as the address is not already used with a different Microsoft Account.
- You can create up to ten new aliases per year for an overall maximum of ten aliases on a Microsoft account. Deleting an alias removes it from the account but not from the yearly limit.
Now that you’ve added an alias to your account, you can now change the primary alias on the account to the newly created alias.
2. Change the primary alias on the account to the new email address
From the Account aliases screen, select the “Make primary” option under the email address you just created.
After you make the new email address the primary alias, you’ll see a confirmation message (see the screenshot below). It can take up to 48 hours for the new primary alias to appear on all your Microsoft products and services, and some of your friends may appear offline (in the messaging app on the phone) until they sign out and sign back into their Microsoft account.
Switch the login email address used on Windows Phone to the new email address
You can use any alias email address that is associated with a Microsoft Account to log into the account from a computer or xBox 360, but you’ll need to switch your phone over to the new primary email address login for the Microsoft account that you use on the phone. Unfortunately, the only way to do this is by performing a hard reset on the phone for most windows phones.
I have heard that a hard reset is not necessary on a Windows Phone 8.1, but I haven’t tested it out yet, so I can’t confirm this to be true. I am planning to switch the primary email address on the Microsoft Account I use on my phone, so I’ll append the post later to report my experience. If you have a Windows Phone that is running 8.1 and change the email address for your Microsoft Account, please post a comment and let us know if you had to hard reset the phone afterwards.
To perform a hard reset on a phone, first make sure you’ve synced all your contacts, appointments and tasks to your Outlook.com account and backed everything else up (pictures, text messages, documents) to your computer or OneDrive. Then on the phone, go to Settings > about > swipe down the screen and tap the “reset your phone” button.
After the hard reset is completed, you’ll be prompted to set up the Microsoft account on the phone. Be sure to input your new email address into the user login field. The good news is that the phone will retain all uses of your Microsoft Account. You will be able to restore from any backup files that were made under the previous login and all apps your purchased under the old login will carry over to the new login.
Now you can safely remove the old email address from your Microsoft Account or leave it as a secondary alias on the account.