Passport Problems

By Deane Barker on July 28, 2005

I created a Microsoft Passport account some time ago so my son could play Asheron’s Call on MSN’s Game Zone (a fad which lasted about a day-and-a-half). With Passport, I could set it up so his account was a “child” account under my Password account, apparently giving me some control over it.

But somehow — and much to my son’s delight — everything got reversed and my account became a child account under his. This was quite funny for him, but not so much for me since I couldn’t sign into Messenger anymore.

Today, I got this email:

According to the birth date for your child’s account, Deane is now 13 years of age, and no longer requires parental permission to access MSN sites and services that collect, use, or allow the sharing of personal information.

Gee, thanks. First of all, I’m 34. Second, it’s nowhere near either of our birthdays, so I don’t know how anything suddenly changed.

The whole thing, however, was still screwed up, so I had to “verify my age” with a credit card. While doing this, I was presented with a captcha, something like this one. This was one of the hardest captcha interfaces I’ve ever seen:

That little refresh-like button on the right is to get a different one if it’s too hard for you. The one before this was too hard, so I asked for another one, then couldn’t get that one right. I managed to get this one, finally.

All in all, a fine product, that Passport.

(Interesting note: Google for “Microsoft Passport” and these are the top 10 result titles:

  • Passport Network (the official site)
  • Microsoft Passport to Trouble
  • Wired News: Stealing MS Passport’s Wallet
  • Sign Out of Microsoft Passport (“Describes the risks inherent in Microsoft’s identification and authentication…”)
  • EPIC Microsoft Passport Investigation Page
  • Joel on Software – Does Issuing Passports Make Microsoft a Country? (“Am I the only one who is terrified about Microsoft Passport?”)
  • Privacy terms revised for Microsoft Passport (“The software giant revises the
    terms of use for the service follwoing criticism…”)
  • Microsoft’s Passport to doom
  • Microsoft Passport License Dangers

Wow, that’s some great industry and media support.)



  1. What’s really impressive is if you click that speaker button it’ll speak a captcha to you…

  2. Aww i’ve seen those before, although I do not remember seeing a refresh button at the time – was forced to refresh page and retype info into form.., after a bunch of attempts I tried downloading the captcha being sounded out.. for some reason they seemed to have used one of those really stranged text to speech programs or something.. I had to play it about 4 times before getting it correct..

    You would think that someone that worked on this would have suggested that it be made more readable.. I’m sure you could get it alot easier to read and still be too difficult for a program to grab the image and work out the code.

    They must of been REALLY worried about automated account creations.

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