Microsoft Repairing Xbox 360 "Renewal of Death"

Have any trouble renewing your Xbox Live Gold membership lately? Seen your account go into digital cardiac arrest and nearly follow along with the physiological variety when your achievements go toodle-oo?

Earlier this week, reports began percolating that a small number of Xbox Live accounts had been endangered by an email expiration gaffe. The result? Gamertags self-imploding and achievement lists dissipating into the digital ether.

According to Gameindustry.biz, which broke the story, the problem has to do with the Windows Live ID email address interlink required to set up an Xbox Live Gold membership. You know, Windows Live, Microsoft's online service suite. Not to be confused with Games For Windows Live, Microsoft's free subsidiary online gaming service. Free, that is, unlike Xbox Live Gold, which isn't.

If the Windows Live ID you used to set up your account expires, even if you've got another email account on the books, Microsoft's system reportedly deletes the email account and anything associated with it. As of Wednesday, the problem was confirmed terminal by Microsoft.

Two days later, they've apparently got a fix in the works, and the good news is, there's life after death after all — if you've kept your Gamertag on your Xbox 360 hard drive or memory card, that is.

The scoop, per Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb.

I want to take a moment to talk about Windows LIVE ID’s and Gamertags. Recently, there have been a few stories about Gamertags becoming unrecoverable. I want to set the record straight, and let you know what is going on, and what we’re doing about it.

What happens:

In the rare case that you DO NOT sign in to Xbox.com or another website that uses Windows LIVE ID (like Hotmail) it is possible that your Windows LIVE ID expires (goes dormant.)

Me, interrupting: Rare? I've signed into my Windows Live ID once, possibly twice since I created it years ago. Am I just an outlier?

An Xbox LIVE Gamertag is unrecoverable from the system only when the associated Windows Live ID has become dormant and the Gamertag has been deleted from all Xbox 360 consoles.

Members with dormant Windows Live IDs can continue to enjoy the benefits of their Xbox LIVE Gamertags on their Xbox 360 consoles, including earning Achievements; however, they will not be able to use their expired Windows Live IDs for activities such as account management on Xbox.com.

It is important to note that an Xbox LIVE Gamertag is unrecoverable from the system only when the associated Windows Live ID has become dormant and the Gamertag has been deleted from all Xbox 360 consoles.

What you can do to prevent having any problems:

We recommend that people log into their Windows Live ID on Xbox.com or Xbox LIVE Marketplace on the Web at least once every four months.

What we’re doing:

We are actively working on an update that will allow you to link your Gamertag to a new Windows Live ID if one becomes dormant.

If anyone should have an issue regarding their Xbox 360 or Xbox LIVE account should visitt xbox.com/support so we can assist you.

So there you have it. If you're not logging into your Windows Live account, time to start doing so every four months for purely maintenance purposes. And if you're one of the affected, don't delete your local Gamertag. Resurrection's just an update away.

Matt Peckham hopes Microsoft's solution involves recanting Windows Live IDs altogether and allowing users to employ their email address of choice. You can prevent his self-esteem from expiring by visiting twitter.com/game_on.

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