How to Configure Custom Email Address Using Windows Live Admin

Having your own custom domain name offers several advantages for both bloggers and business owners. For one, it creates an impression of having a professional website.

If you are a Blogger/Blogspot user who still does not have his/her own domain name registered, you might want to consider the advantages of owning one.

SpiceUpYourBlog has a very good article outlining why not getting a custom domain for your Blogger blog is stupid and even some frequently asked questions and tips when migrating from a Blogspot address to a custom domain. I highly recommend reading those two.

Free alternative to Google Apps Email

If you already have your own domain name, creating a custom email address below that registered domain should be next on your to do list. Some domain registrars already offer a free email address when you purchase a domain name through them while others offer this for a monthly fee. While investing for a reliable email service is not a bad idea, there are free alternatives out there that you might want to consider.

Popular among bloggers and website owners alike is the Google Apps standard edition which allows you to create a number of email accounts using your own domain name while having all the benefits of a GMail account. However, as of December 6, 2012, Google no longer offers this service for free. In this article, I am going to introduce you to a free Google Apps alternative hosted by Microsoft (Outlook.com) with steps on how to configure it through Windows Live Admin Center.


Outlook.com At a Glance

Outlook.com is Microsoft’s newest mail service replacing Hotmail. If you have an old Hotmail or Windows Live email account, you can opt to upgrade to an Outlook.com account and take advantage of the new webmail interface which is surprisingly fast.

The interface is very simple and would take a lot of getting used to if you are a GMail user but nevertheless, it is beautiful and intuitive. You can also sign up for a regular @outlook.com email address or use a custom email address under your own domain name.

Requirements

Setting up your custom email address with Microsoft is not a very straight forward process. You need to have an existing Microsoft account (hotmail.com, live.com, or outlook.com) before you can administrate your domain name. If you don’t have an account yet, you can register for one through http://www.outlook.com/.

You also need access to your domain’s control panel and be able to edit DNS records like MX, TXT, and SRV (both TXT and SRV records are optional).

Configuring Custom Email Address Using Windows Live Admin

Step 1: Sign up for a Microsoft Domain Service

To start setting up your domain with Outlook.com, go to Windows Live Domains Admin Center (https://domains.live.com/Signup/SignupDomain.aspx) and entry your domain name. This tutorial is based on the assumption that you already have purchased your domain.



Under the “Choose mail service for your domain” option, select “Set up Outlook.com for my domain” and click the “Continue” button.



Next, you will be asked to sign in with your Microsoft account or create a new Microsoft account which will serve as the domain administrator. It is best to create a Microsoft email address first before setting up your domain to avoid getting lost in the process.

Select “Sign in with an existing Microsoft account" and click “Continue”. You will then be taken to the login screen. Enter your login details and click “Sign in”.



After that, you will be asked to review your settings and accept the terms and conditions. Make sure all information you entered is correct. Type in the word verification provided (not case sensitive) and then click the “I Accept” button.



Step 2: Prove Domain Ownership and Point MX record to Microsoft

After the registration is completed, you will be taken to Windows Live Domain administration panel. On this screen you will see the status of your domain whether active or inactive.



The next steps requires that you access your domain’s control panel or DNS manager. In order to prove ownership of your domain name, you must create an MX record using the details provided. Note that the MX server value is unique for all domains. Microsoft will provide you with additional DNS settings to be configured. However, only the first DNS record type as shown above is required. Each domain registrar or web hosting provider offers different ways to manage your domain’s DNS. If you need additional support for this part, please contact your respective host.

For most registrar’s it should take 24 to 48 hours before the DNS settings to propagate properly. However, you can always click on the “Refresh” button to see if the changes have been picked up. Once the DNS settings are ok, you may now create custom email addresses for your domain name.



Step 3: Creating Email Accounts

Go back to Windows Live Domain Center (https://domains.live.com/) and click on your domain name. On the left sidebar menu, choose “Member accounts”. Click the “Add” button.



A pop up screen will appear. Enter the necessary information for your new email address and click “Ok”.



You can add up to 50 mailbox type email accounts under your domain name with 5GB storage each. If you need more accounts, you can contact support https://domains.live.com/support to make this request. You can access your newly created custom email address through http://www.outlook.com

Aside from creating custom email accounts, there are a lot of features offered by Windows Live Admin Center that might benefit your organization.

Have you used Windows Live Admin for your custom email addresses? Do you know of any free alternative for Google Apps aside from this? Feedbacks or questions? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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