Microsoft agrees to cancel dormant Game Pass subscriptions following UK regulator inquiry

Polycount

Posts: 3,005   +589
Staff member
In context: Have you ever signed up for a subscription service's free trial and forgotten to cancel it before auto-bills? The answer is probably a resounding 'yes' -- it's a common pitfall for many, and who could blame them? We're inundated with subscriptions and monthly payments these days, so it's no surprise that some fall through the cracks. Following an inquiry from a UK regulatory body, Microsoft will help you patch up some of those cracks with its Xbox Game Pass service. Sort of.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been looking into cases of inactive but still renewing subscription services offered by all of the big three console gaming platforms: Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation. The authority came away with several concerns regarding Xbox's services, in particular.

The CMA feels that Microsoft has not been clear enough that its subscriptions (Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold, in particular) auto-renew and that the company does not make it easy enough to turn off auto-renewal. More importantly, the CMA notes that users may not even realize they're still paying for services they no longer use, as Microsoft does not provide adequate reminders to paying customers; even if their engagement with the service goes stagnant.

To address these concerns, Microsoft has reached a voluntary agreement with the CMA to improve transparency surrounding its auto-renewing services, while also taking a more consumer-friendly approach to dormant customer subscriptions. For starters, Microsoft will reach out to customers on 12-month subscriptions and offer them the ability to "end their contract and claim a pro-rata refund," should they desire it.

The company will also get in touch with users who are still paying for a Microsoft service, but "haven't used their memberships for a long time," which is at least 12 months. If the customer ignores or otherwise doesn't take action as a result of this initial contact -- which will include information on how to stop paying for the service in question -- Microsoft will "ultimately" stop accepting payments outright. However, it won't do so for another full year.

Though this may seem like a weak measure (Game Pass' $10 monthly fees can add up), the CMA seems satisfied with the outcome. The improvements mentioned above, and more, will roll out in the UK to start with, but they will expand globally in the coming months.

Permalink to story.

 

brucek

Posts: 1,111   +1,650
I know I could probably find a way to solve this with a two minute Google search, but someone should nail them for the Xbox app that is perma-pinned to the Windows taskbar (well, you can unpin it, but it just comes back every time you reboot.) I think the reason I don't do something about it is to help remind myself that this is the mentality of the company I am trusting to provide the O/S on my primary computer.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,851   +3,629
TechSpot Elite
I know I could probably find a way to solve this with a two minute Google search, but someone should nail them for the Xbox app that is perma-pinned to the Windows taskbar (well, you can unpin it, but it just comes back every time you reboot.) I think the reason I don't do something about it is to help remind myself that this is the mentality of the company I am trusting to provide the O/S on my primary computer.
Windows 11?
Besides sticking to Win10, I've never seen (or heard of) that happening before...
 

Robkaminski

Posts: 10   +23
I know I could probably find a way to solve this with a two minute Google search, but someone should nail them for the Xbox app that is perma-pinned to the Windows taskbar (well, you can unpin it, but it just comes back every time you reboot.) I think the reason I don't do something about it is to help remind myself that this is the mentality of the company I am trusting to provide the O/S on my primary computer.

I run Windows 11 and this doesn't happen to me...
 

Homerlovesbeer

Posts: 181   +206
I know I could probably find a way to solve this with a two minute Google search, but someone should nail them for the Xbox app that is perma-pinned to the Windows taskbar (well, you can unpin it, but it just comes back every time you reboot.) I think the reason I don't do something about it is to help remind myself that this is the mentality of the company I am trusting to provide the O/S on my primary computer.

Is this really worth having a moan over though?
 

brucek

Posts: 1,111   +1,650
OK, y'all finally motivated me to dig into this.

It appears my device manufacturer, NZXT, stuck a file called LayoutModifications.xml file to my AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Shell. It has this section:

<CustomTaskbarLayoutCollection PinListPlacement="Replace">
<defaultlayout:TaskbarLayout>
<taskbar:TaskbarPinList>
<taskbar:UWA AppUserModelID="Microsoft.GamingApp_xxlongidxx!Microsoft.Xbox.App" />
<taskbar:UWA AppUserModelID="Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_xxlongidxx!MicrosoftEdge"/>
<taskbar:DesktopApp DesktopApplicationLinkPath="%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\System Tools\File Explorer.lnk"/>
</taskbar:TaskbarPinList>
</defaultlayout:TaskbarLayout>
</CustomTaskbarLayoutCollection>

I wonder if there's any chance they get a commission on each game pass subscription...

As to moan worthiness, I guess everyone is their own judge. I'm sure old school enough that I don't think an operating system should override express user preference unless it's something drastic like the system can't boot otherwise.
 

wujj123456

Posts: 67   +39
I'm sure old school enough that I don't think an operating system should override express user preference unless it's something drastic like the system can't boot otherwise.
We probably all agree on this point. The problem with your complaint here is that NZXT is putting in a configuration specifically asking for it. From OS' perspective, that's a user preference. OS has to honor the configuration if it's there. It could be you added that file and would be annoyed that the app doesn't come back when someone else accidentally unpins it. There are legitimate reasons for such a feature, like organization doing large pre-configured deployments.

OEM bloatware has been a problem for a long time. Whether they take a cut or not, OEMs love to differentiate their product with bloatware or customization. MS actually tried to solve it with the feature called "Reset this PC", introduced in Windows 10 IIRC. This would give you a clean Windows like a retail copy, which is what I do immediately after getting anything from OEM, like my laptop. Unfortunately not many people know it. Once you've set everything up, it's rather intrusive to reset, but it might still be worth it if you get annoyed by OEM bloatware enough and can't remove them cleanly.
 
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brucek

Posts: 1,111   +1,650
I agree actually. Now that I know the source of the behavior, I can't blame MS for it, with perhaps the minor nit that a user-visible hint to what was happening would have been appreciated. (Maybe a notification like "Your taskbar has been reset per your CustomTaskbarLayout settings.")
 

eforce

Posts: 909   +1,279
OK, y'all finally motivated me to dig into this.

It appears my device manufacturer, NZXT, stuck a file called LayoutModifications.xml file to my AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Shell. It has this section:



I wonder if there's any chance they get a commission on each game pass subscription...

As to moan worthiness, I guess everyone is their own judge. I'm sure old school enough that I don't think an operating system should override express user preference unless it's something drastic like the system can't boot otherwise.

This is why I wipe any OEM/Prebuild before using and install my own OS fresh.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,331   +4,973
Sounds like MS has done (or will do) plenty... in the end, people need to be responsible for their purchases... when you get your monthly credit card statement, it really behooves you to READ it!!

If there are purchases you don't think you should be making (or maybe didn't even make), that's your chance to cancel them!
 

dangh

Posts: 520   +816
We probably all agree on this point. The problem with your complaint here is that NZXT is putting in a configuration specifically asking for it. From OS' perspective, that's a user preference. OS has to honor the configuration if it's there. It could be you added that file and would be annoyed that the app doesn't come back when someone else accidentally unpins it. There are legitimate reasons for such a feature, like organization doing large pre-configured deployments.

OEM bloatware has been a problem for a long time. Whether they take a cut or not, OEMs love to differentiate their product with bloatware or customization. MS actually tried to solve it with the feature called "Reset this PC", introduced in Windows 10 IIRC. This would give you a clean Windows like a retail copy, which is what I do immediately after getting anything from OEM, like my laptop. Unfortunately not many people know it. Once you've set everything up, it's rather intrusive to reset, but it might still be worth it if you get annoyed by OEM bloatware enough and can't remove them cleanly.
But the xbox app is a bloatware itself. On my work machine I don't need anything like that, and fact that I need to use 3rd party told to remove number of bloated soft and to change interface to satisfy my needs show that there is a lot of bs from ms itself.
 

dangh

Posts: 520   +816
Any continuous subscription should require user interaction confirming his interest in next term. Otherwise it's just fishing for people who forgets...
 

BigRedPDX

Posts: 254   +176
I know I could probably find a way to solve this with a two minute Google search, but someone should nail them for the Xbox app that is perma-pinned to the Windows taskbar (well, you can unpin it, but it just comes back every time you reboot.) I think the reason I don't do something about it is to help remind myself that this is the mentality of the company I am trusting to provide the O/S on my primary computer.

I created a powershell script that removes it as well as the layout XML file. Sometimes I wonder if I should sell it...
 

Homerlovesbeer

Posts: 181   +206
I agree actually. Now that I know the source of the behavior, I can't blame MS for it, with perhaps the minor nit that a user-visible hint to what was happening would have been appreciated. (Maybe a notification like "Your taskbar has been reset per your CustomTaskbarLayout settings.")

Glad you got it sorted