I had an interesting question/research assignment from a customer the other day. In researching the issue, I realized that there are probably a lot of people faced with a similar circumstance. Hence, a good blog topic.

Here's the scenario:

A number of years ago, my customer set up his Passport Account (now known as his Microsoft Account) the same as his Corporate email alias. Life was good for him. He obviously didn't use the ID for email, but along the way he bought SkyDrive (now OneDrive) storage with it, he used it as his Microsoft login for Windows 8 devices, he set up his Windows 8 phone with it, and in general things were great.

Earlier this year his company (like thousands of others) decided to use Office 365. (I bet you can see the problem coming…) So now that he needs to login to Office365 with the same UPN that he uses for his Microsoft Account he's hitting a number of issues. He wants to use OneDrive for Business and his personal OneDrive but inevitably this UPN collision is going to cause him problems. He didn't go into other specifics, but you can see that having the same UPN for both could cause numerous problems.

I'm not going to get into the back and forth discussion I saw in numerous chat rooms and blog postings about how Microsoft should (or should not) provide one UPN that can be used for O365 and the Microsoft account because I'm a firm believer that there should be a definite and purposeful separation of personal data and corporate data. When I leave Microsoft I fully expect there to be nothing from Microsoft in my personal data space and I won't have anything personal in my Microsoft space. So for me, the issue of having a single UPN that I use for both just doesn't make sense.

Given the fact that my customer has purchased storage for his personal OneDrive Account and used that UPN for many other things, changing it didn't seem to be an option on the surface. Also, his corporate email account wasn't going to change, so it posed quite a dilemma. Fortunately there is a way to handle the problem and while it's not 100% graceful at the moment, with a little work, there is an answer. I'm including a pointer to some of the blog posts and articles I encountered along the way to pull this together.

Here's a solution:

Start by reading a great blog entry by Paul Thurrott. He answers a lot of the questions you are going to have about what I'm describing below: The Article is titled: "How the Microsoft Account Aliases Changes Impact Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox 360". Here's the article: (http://winsupersite.com/outlookcom/how-microsoft-account-aliases-changes-impact-windows-windows-phone-and-xbox-360)


Backup Your Windows Phone

First, make sure you have a backup of your Windows 8 phone. (Here's the non-elegant part…) This WILL require that  you hard reset the phone and use the new alias described below. It's not as bad as it sounds. Once you add your new primary alias back, your settings, addresses, text messages, etc will all come back. You will however have to arrange your live tiles back to the same configuration you had before… more below…


Add an Alias to Your Microsoft Account

The following article explains how to add an alias to your Microsoft Account. (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/outlook/add-alias-account). My particular customer has an existing Microsoft Account UPN that looks like this  - First.Last@BusinessName.com. The first step is to add an available alias to his Microsoft account as described in the article and make it the Primary Alias. To prevent problems in the future, he should make sure any alias he chooses ends in outlook.com (maybe First.LastName@outlook.com). The name has to be one that is not already taken.


Restore Your Windows Phone

The good news is that Windows 8, and RT devices understand the change to your Primary Alias. Windows 8 phones do NOT. If you have installed the Windows Phone 8.1 preview or if you are reading this after your carrier has deployed Windows 8.1, the hard reset doesn't apply to you because 8.1 picks up the change automatically. This article explains how to set up backup and how to restore (http://www.wpcentral.com/backing-and-restoring-personal-data-windows-phone-8). Just remember that when you set up the phone again, you will be using your new Primary Alias not the old alias.

Here's a trick not everyone knows about... Before you hard reset your phone, get a screenshot of the Live Tiles screen as you have it today.If you have more than one screen of live tiles, you'll have to scroll up and repeat the following process.

  • Press the Power Button on your phone and immediately press the Windows button (see the following article: http://www.7tutorials.com/how-take-screenshots-windows-phone-8).
  • This will take a screenshot of your Live Tile screen and place it in an album called screen shots on your phone.
  • You might want to upload this to OneDrive so you can refer to the picture on your PC while you move tiles around on your phone after the restore.



The great thing about the ability to add an alias this way (and make it Primary) is that you retain all the storage you have purchased, your XBOX Music subscriptions, Apps you have bought, etc. This will also give you a clean separation between Personal data and Corporate data.