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 email@example.com 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 http://domains.live.com 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!