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WTF Next? Dev ramblings from a master of nothing.

So you’re running your fancy blog, and you bought a domain from somewhere that you’re using to point to that blog. Next step? You’re really wishing you had a consistent solution (or even any solution) for mail, so that you can have that address to impress your friends and colleagues. Well, Windows Live has a powerful option for you, and best of all it is completely free!

Here are some of the great features of getting Windows Live Hotmail to host your domain’s mail:

  1. As much control as you want over accounts. You can either allow users to create their own accounts or you can create the accounts for them. You can set their initial password, but require the password to change immediately. You can set a password rotation, forcing users to change their password frequently. You can really do as much or as little as you want.
  2. Up front, 500 accounts, absolutely free. Whether you use the accounts for small business, non-profit, or just for a hobby (like me), you get 500 accounts to work with up front. How do you get more? If you qualify, just ask. Additional accounts are just as free as the first ones were.
  3. Can you say personalized Windows Live ID? This is by far my favorite feature. Now you can use your domain id to log into Windows Live Messenger, or anywhere else that you authenticate with Live ID. Frankly, that’s just awesome. Now, when Live IDs start becoming Open IDs as well…

Now, I’ll admit there are some terrible drawbacks to the Windows Live Domain features, and here’s a list of reasons that doing mail through Windows Live might not be for you:

  1. You’ve already got a mail solution being used. If you’ve already got something going, chances are you aren’t looking for something new. However, starting over will rid you of all old email history, and you will have to completely replace the other services.
  2. You absolutely need access to your mail outside of the web. This I think is the biggest drawback, because I really expected more from Microsoft here. Why no POP? The real answer is that POP access is available, but it ain’t free. With Gmail giving out free POP access, I think this is really a sign of Microsoft’s mail services lagging WAY behind. If Google ever offers a similar service, I think I’d be inclined to switch in a heartbeat if MS doesn’t get the POP access first.
  3. You need a catch-all address. As far as I can tell, there is no way to catch all extraneous email with Windows Live Domain. If you need this feature, which I'm sure most might, then this isn't the solution for you.
  4. You for some reason still hate hotmail. Hotmail has been a powerhouse option for those looking for free mail, and it has been going strong for a long while. I remember for a short while treating hotmail the way I assumed false prejudice against the likes of backstreet boys, spice girls, and AOL. However, when it comes down to how effective hotmail’s been, it has outlasted at least two of those three ;)

Now this is the end of part 1. For part 2 I’ll delve into how to set up your domain for Windows Live Hotmail when GoDaddy is your domain provider. For those of you who I may have sold on the idea of having your own Live ID and mail source, check out and I’m sure you can work your way through the process.

This is yet another example of one of the services you can get for free, and it is listed on the holy grail!

 Continue on to the next part of this article!


Posted on Sunday, October 5, 2008 11:54 AM Microsoft | Back to top

Comments on this post: Free mail hosting from Windows Live Part 1

# re: Free mail hosting from Windows Live Part 1
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I own 20 or so domains used for my small business. I have them registered at GoDaddy and have used their Catch-All email forwarding feature with success, but not any more. I've been told (and verified via my own testing) that some messages sent to me bounce back to the sender as "undeliverable." Not good for my small business's reputation to have people think, "Hmmm, well, the email bounced, guess he went broke." I've reverted to my standard Hotmail eddress, but that doesn't connote good business either.

Now I'm a neophyte at such hi-tech things and don't understand them well, but I've bugged them about it several times, and GoDaddy said, essentially, "snipers out there are diverting those emails sent via your Catch-All account before they reach you." HUH? If this is happening, the entire web is compromised. I'm disappointed, to say the least. Yet I only pay GoDaddy a couple hundred bucks a year for renewals, and don't expect much personal treatment. It takes me a long time just to explain it to them each time.

So this new Windows Live Admin Center looks good. Can I cancel my GoDaddy "Catch-All" email travesty and actually expect that emails sent to me at (anything) or whatever will arrive without a hitch? And, more importantly, can I accomplish this within a few hours, or is it a long process? Thank you.
Left by Handy(MN) on Nov 29, 2008 7:46 AM

# re: Free mail hosting from Windows Live Part 1
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As far as I can tell, Windows Live Domains do not support a catch-all address. This is a good point to note and I'll add it to the post.

I'm trying to figure out if Google's similar service under Google Apps does allow catch-alls, I'll let you know if I find out.
Left by Stacy Vicknair on Dec 02, 2008 2:41 PM

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