Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Let's first look at my attempts last year to get a Windows Store dev account. If you're in a TL;DR mood: it was a sucky experience and one has to jump through burning hoops to sign up.

It's now a year later and I have done absolutely nothing with this account. I signed up a year ago to see whether writing Windows Store apps was a future worth exploring. During the past year though I decided I don't want to write software for WinRT, simply because I find the .NET version Microsoft has released for WinRT beyond crap and I don't want to go through a Compact Framework nightmare yet again. Furthermore, I became convinced that WinRT has no future or at least not a future I want to be part of, so the account was unused.

This morning I received an email, in Dutch, with the subject (translated) 'Automatic renewal of yearly subscription of Windows Store developer account'. It actually has a typo in the subject, it says 'acocunt'. That was initially a red flag for me but as I only read emails in plain-text and all URLs are MS URLs, the headers all check out, it's a legit email.

I thought "Automatic renewal?" I haven't signed up for automatic renewal! The email says that in September my account will be converted into a yearly subscription, but after it's been renewed. I don't want to renew it, as I won't be doing anything with it anyway. So I read on how to cancel the damn thing and see I have to go to https://commerce.microsoft.com, sign in, click on the service, then click 'Cancel subscription' and then it's canceled. Now, please pay attention, as I missed it the first time. It says "Cancel subscription". But at this moment I have a 'yearly registration' as a Windows Store developer.

Ok, I go to https://commerce.microsoft.com and sign in. I click on 'Subscriptions' and see a list of my XBox Live activities. No Windows Store account anywhere. It takes me a while till I realize that at the top right, there's a tiny triangle next to 'Personal account'. Clicking it, it reveals a menu which allows me to select 'Business account'. And there is my Windows Store registration.

I click on Manage and am greeted with a pop-up: (warning, Dutch text ahead)

account_beheren

The title says "Manage account". Below it it says "Yearly registration of Windows Store developers account". The only option to select says "renew/extend subscription".

There's no option to cancel the registration. The link below it says "How can I cancel my service?". Yes, I really want to know that, Microsoft, as you just presented me with a radio-button list with one option. Boy, the amount of developer time spent on this UI must be astronomical!

There's little else to do than to click the link which states the single question on my mind. Unsurprisingly, this brings you to the generic help menu about canceling something, and of course, no mention of Windows Store developer accounts anywhere in the selection boxes I have to work with on that unhelpful page.

Desperately, I pick the 'closest' choices to what I want to accomplish, and end up with a screen which tells me I have three options: go to the forums (hahaha, you got to be f****** kidding me), use the chat (which is open between 08:00 and 21:00, so it's open now, but oddly the button is disabled), or click a button so Microsoft will call me. I don't want to give a person calling me a hard time, so calling me is not an option. I try again, different options in the help selections and, out of the blue, I can click the 'chat' button now.

I'm currently waiting before this chat person/robot is able to help me. I'm currently '1' in the queue (literally, that's what it says).

Needless to say, this whole experience sucks to no end. First the sign-up was terrible, every time you want to log in you have to wait for an email with a code, the platform they tell you to use is so limited, the OS API on my Amiga 500 was more capable of doing things than WinRT and last but not least, they have the nerve to automatically renew your registration and cancelling is impossible (from their UI at least). I now have to spend time to get rid of something that's shoved through my throat.

"Developers! Developers! Developers". Gimme a break.

UPDATE: Via their chat, a guy called 'Adriaan N.' was able to cancel the registration and renewal. I have notified them about how it's impossible to do this manually, and, helpdesk-savvy as he was, this was duly noted. If it has any effect, I doubt it, but it didn't hurt to try.

For the few who wonder why on earth I don't want to write software for WinRT, as it appears to be awesome to them, let me say this: There's a company called Xamarin, which is able to provide a full .NET API, including full C# features, on iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. Not a crippled one, but a full one. Microsoft on the other hand, stranded in the ever lasting war between DevDiv and WinDiv and was unable to provide a better API for C#/.NET than the one they provided for WinRT. There are no excuses for them for this. If Xamarin can do it for multiple platforms, including two mobile platforms, Microsoft should be able to do it for one, their own, no less. It doesn't bode well for the future of .NET if you look at WinRT, and as I care more about .NET than I'll ever do for WinRT, it's simple: the less apps are written for WinRT, the better. Perhaps then, Microsoft will learn what it really takes beyond yelling "Developers! Developers! Developers".

Published Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:01 AM by FransBouma

Comments

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 8:09 AM by Albert Lewis

Easy solution, though a bit of a drag: cancel the credit card being used. Vendor won't be able to charge you anything.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 8:40 AM by FransBouma

@Albert: that's a bit drastic, IMHO :) Sure, if nothing else would help, that would do it, but IMHO to get out of a windows store dev account shouldn't require cancelling CC's :)

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 9:11 AM by mikestu

On this same topic, last time I checked, there is no way to turn off the auto-renew yourself.  The only way was for me to send an email to them, and have someone on their end do it behind the scenes.  I think the other option was to have them remove your credit card.  That was frustrating, but the thing I didn't like was that to use a one-year AppHub code I received would NOT extend my account by a year from my expiration date, but would start it over from the point that I would enter the code.  Basically, you lose the difference.  Hopefully someone reads things like this and does the right thing for AppHub devs.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 9:54 AM by Sergio Pereira

Went through similar pain this weekend for my also useless Windows Phone Dev account. The drone in the support chat told me to talk to the MSDN (yes, MSDN) subscriptions support. At this point I just noticed that I could edit my credit card on file so I entered bogus data. I'm just hoping it fails when they try to bite me in a few weeks.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:11 AM by FransBouma

@Sergio: I saw this comment on reddit about this post, it's about windows phone accounts and a bogus/expired CC: www.reddit.com/.../cbmssav

So I fear your account might exist till oblivion ;)

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:21 AM by feint_ruled

I guess that comment about cancelling you credit card was a joke, but in case not : DO NOT DO THIS! They can still attempt to charge you and you will inadvertently be running up debts and ruining your credit score, only for some day a collector to track you down.

www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/.../qaview-eng.asp

"there may be situations where charges will appear on your credit card statement even after the card has been cancelled. These include transactions that were authorized prior to the cancellation of the card, including recurring monthly transactions and transactions processed by merchants without your authorization."

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:22 AM by benb

I had precisely the same auto-renew and cancellation experience back when it was just the XNA Dev Center for Xbox. Good to know some things never change. What a headache.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:30 AM by Rydgaze

Interestingly I was similarly frustrated when they wanted to automatically renew my xbox live membership (even though I had gotten rid of my xbox and didnt log into that thing for a long time). Finally I had to call them up to get it cancelled.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:38 AM by Lelala

Sure, one problem MS didn't address properly - the other manufacturers handle this much better, according to 37signals you should be able to "easy on, easy off"; if you claim to be a developer centric company, creating such headaches is definetly the wrong way.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 1:45 PM by Gordon

Apple's developer account isn't much better, perhaps a bit worse of an experience. In addition, they make you pay a subscription fee for the development tools. WTF

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 1:54 PM by wazoo

I went through the same nightmare trying to cancel my unused XBLIG dev account a few years ago.

Seems like nothing's changed. Had to phone them and pray the TSR clicked the right radio-button on their end to not have my account charged for renewal.

As noted by others, the harder you make it for someone to leave, the harder they will work to avoid re-subscribing in the future.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 6:35 PM by Mark

re: Gordon: No, they do not make you pay a subscription fee for the dev tools. They're free:

itunes.apple.com/.../id497799835

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 8:22 PM by Incognito.C0der

Glad to see more of the .NET community picking up on Xamarin!  It is a great utility.

Long live Mono!

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 3:13 AM by Seb

What we need is some of form consumer protection to do away with auto renewal, making it illegal. All this time wasting craps, will be banished forever.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 8:18 AM by Parrotlover77

Auto-renewal is such a scummy shady contract term.  I recently dealt with a server farm colo company (Windstream Hosted Solutions) where if you don't cancel your autorenewal within 90 days (90!!!) of the end of the contract, it renews for the full term (either two or three years).  And to cancel, you have to pay off the entire full amount of the term.  So basically your only option if you miss that 90 day deadline is to keep the account.  Needless to say, I'm never doing business with them again.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Thursday, August 15, 2013 10:02 AM by Brandon

Use ShopSafe, create a temporary credit card number for online purchases. then it's only good as long as you allow it to be.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Saturday, August 17, 2013 9:24 AM by Kirk

There is another option (if you can float the money). Allow their auto-renew to kick in then protest the charge with your bank. No major credit card company allows a merchant to change you to auto-renew without express consent. Sending you an email saying you must opt out is NOT in that definition.

# re: Windows Store dev account: getting rid of it is as hard as signing up

Thursday, August 29, 2013 6:43 AM by N mackay

Same grief when trying to cancel/change a payment method on xbox live. It's just a way of fleecing the customer.