How Office 365 Made Me Hate My Windows 7 Phone

I had a hard time deciding on a title for this post. The experience I am going through is just ridiculous on so many levels and there is a lot of hate to go around.

SharePoint Online in Office 365 uses claims based authentication which is cool, and it supports federated authentication and trust to let you use your corporate credentials which is even cooler. Microsoft has been a leader in this space for a long time and everyone I know has a Live ID. However, for reasons that are unexplained, Office 365 doesn’t use Live ID. Instead it has its own federated system that gives users super long IDs like SomeOne@SomeCompany.onmicrosoft.com.

Strangely enough SharePoint Online does support Live ID via the (also very cool) external user access features. Basically, you invite an external user and they can access your site using LiveID as long as the Live ID is a Hotmail.com email address.

Yes! A platform that includes Exchange requires the use of hotmail.com for LiveID in spite of the fact that Live ID itself has no such requirement.

A couple weeks ago I tweeted this depressing but funny comic of various org charts including a spot-on depiction of Microsoft’s. I suspect that this chart explains Microsoft’s reasoning behind this idiotic requirement. Someone’s bonus was threatened by Exchange in 365, but by requiring Hotmail.com they can keep the numbers up. (I freely admit and emphasize that this is pure speculation with no basis in fact).

I wanted to try this External User feature out, so (trusting fool am I) I changed my existing LiveID which I have been using happily for years to use a Hotmail.com address.

Right away there were problems.

First, I noticed that Live Messenger now blocks most (but not all) of my contacts. That’s a really big problem that I have yet to solve.

Xbox Live worked like a champ, as did Zune. Both picked up the change and both were painless.

My Windows Phone 7? Well… You can’t change the Live ID on a Windows Phone once it is set up without resetting it to the factory defaults. Pure genius! I wonder if changing this is one of the 500 new features in Mango.

The moral of this story? Never change your Live ID because Microsoft does not have its act together and you will suffer greatly for it if you do.