That password does not mean what you think it means

A few weeks ago, my Xbox asked me to set a PIN, to speed my log-in sequence. Readers of these words may recall exactly how much use I get from my gaming consoles, but since entering an alphanumeric password on a virtual keyboard with a couple of joysticks is a giant pain in my backside, I did so. I picked something easy to remember, and even wrote said number down in a secure location.

Using that PIN yesterday, Xbox told me to go pound sand, and refused to log me in. I tried a few easy variants of the number I had fixed in my mind, and on a piece of paper, but no luck. Whatever, says I. I just want to watch a DVD, and who cares if that time is tracked online? I’m not here to play downloaded games, or explore content not intended for hypothetical children. So I exit out of the menus, fire up the no-profile experience, and play my movie.

I watch. I almost forget how once again Microsoft’s “security” measures have failed me, specifically on this device. I fume. I die a little inside from needless anger, and then turn everything off.

Today I discovered the solution for your Xbox not letting you sign into your profile with your PIN is to download said profile to your Xbox. What a novel concept! All you need do is enter your account information using a couple of joysticks, and you’re golden.

Unless, of course, your password doesn’t work either. Now this I know is an issue, since I had to enter said password in order to set up that damned PIN. And it’s just not happening tonight. I fire up my non-Microsoft browser of choice (not on the Xbox, of course, since that app is tied to my account), jump through a few more hoops on the Xbox live secure site, and wait for my emailed reset link to arrive.

Then I reset my password. Sort of. Because immediately after I enter the new one on a fresh login screen, I’m directed back to a new screen, informing me that

“It seems someone else may have access to your profile. For added security, you must enter your information and verify your account.”

It takes a few moments for my eyes to pop back in after this one. I look closely at the page I’m on to make sure it’s real. I’m still on a secure server. Examining the page’s source code says I haven’t suddenly browsed my way to Malaysia or some other hacker hotbed. A judicious bit of pinching assures me this is no dream.

I click. A few minutes later, I get the following email from the Microsoft account team (account-security-noreply at


Thanks for helping us verify your Microsoft account!

Here is your code: XXXXXXX

If you didn’t request this code, we recommend you go to (secure server)account dot live dot com and change your password.


Outsourcing voice call centers to other countries is one thing. But when did my plastic pal who’s fun to be with start handling the help desk?

Entering these numbers has a better result than my last set. YAY! I get to reset my password again. The exact thing that verifying my identity was supposed to prevent.

Seriously. Xbox Live, you should go pound some sand. What the hell is going on in the world that me playing a few games is more difficult than discovering the home address, telephone number, date of birth, and criminal records of anyone in the United States?

For this, I pay you?

Third password of the night entered, I am now free to download my profile to my gaming console, where it should have been in the first place. The pass code has mysteriously disappeared, though I’m not counting that crafty little bugger out yet. Any day/week/month now, I’m sure I’ll do this dance again.

After all, it’s probably got a brain the size of a planet, and has nothing better to do all day than wait around to mess with my infrequent enjoyment of console gaming.

End Trans.

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