Still paying for eMail & Website Hosting? Think again…

Posted on December 1, 2012

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If you are a sole operator and still paying for email and website hosting then you are throwing money away. It may not be a lot, but then I guarantee there are richer featured options that you can benefit from. Read on.

For many the reasoning is practical. You have your own Domain and you believe this requires you to pay for an email service that supports this. For others it is simply evolutionary, you have had an email and website packaged service many years with Vendor ‘X’ and have never evaluated your options so you are still paying for something you don’t need to.

For many of you in this scenario you may also find the interfaces for mobile connectivity and browser access are retro, as for website management solution (if at all), some websites are still limited to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) management access to a bare directory on the vendors servers, forcing you into the hands of a commercial agency to get any half decent site built and maintained at more cost.

The solution is simple:

  1. For eMail = Outlook.com
  2. For WebSite = Windows Azure Websites (See a follow-on blog for details on this)

If you want to see why and fancy a punt at other options such as ‘Google’ apart for the privacy issues that you may not be aware of with Google’s terms and Conditions, have a look at a straight Outlook.com v. GMail Feature Comparison which tells you why Outlook.com is the

If you are still not convince, just one feature should make it for you in this new mobile world we live in and that is Exchange ActiveSync (EAS)

For those who like a 3rd party opinion then head over to:

The following is a summary guide as to how to set-up your eMail and domain on Outlook.com, a separate Blog will cover the Free Website feature in Windows Azure and the rich content management options this can include.

A PDF version of this Guide is available for download – ‘Outlook.com Admin Configuration Guide‘ (PDF 428kb):

Outlook.com Configuration & Admin Overview Guide

Step 1.

First off you need a ‘Microsoft Account’, formerly known as Live ID/Hotmail ID/ Passport amongst others. If you already have one then that’s easy, just jump straight to the Outlook.com Webmail Login  and voila, you are now running ‘Outlook.com’. If as an existing Microsoft Account holder you get the old Hotmail interface, it is simple to click on the ‘Options’ then ‘Upgrade to Outlook.com’ link and that is you upgraded, per the image below:

That’s you set-up with free Outlook.com email on your Microsoft Account. This is not yet active on your own domain or domains. To get your email on your own domains working you need to continue to Step 2.

It is advisable to be ready to move ALL our email accounts to Outlook.com BEFORE you commence Step 2. This should include being clear who controls your domain(s) DNS settings. If in doubt contact your hosting provider AFTER reading through the rest of this guide so you are clear on what is involved.

Step2.

Configure your domain and get access to Multiple User accounts on your own domain FOR FREE.

  1. Head over to the ‘Windows Live Admin Center‘ at http://domains.live.com
  2. Click on the ‘Get Started’ link’ Assuming you’re already logged in!

  3. Enter your domain name. Don’t get confused by the ‘www’ prefix, it is perhaps not the most intuitive way of simply requesting a domain name! Then Click ‘Continue
  4. Next you will have to go through a formality, check the setting s are correct and assuming your OK with the Terms & Conditions click ‘ I Accept’

  5. The next screen is a little overwhelming for the non-techies. If you have access to your domain’s DNS or DNS management page then I assume you know what yru doing, if not you will be emailing a copy of this page to your Domains Registrar or Hosting provider who controls your domains DNS.

    In summary this page update your DNS records so that email etc will start getting pointed to your new Outlook.com profile.

    DO NOT initiate this till you’re ready for email to STOP arriving at your old email service, and you are ready to set-up all your email accounts on Outlook.com.

    You can pre-configure this and leave it as is, note the ‘Prove Ownership’ box highlighted in Blue. Until you have either made the changes or instructed someone else to and this box is replaced with a ‘Your Service is Active’ statement your email routing is unaltered.

  6. Assuming were good to go with Outlook.com and you have made the changes noted above in DNS instead of the yellow ‘Prove Ownership’ box, you should now see an ‘Your Service is Active’ message box as illustrated below:

Now you can configure a variety of features from the left hand Admin menu:

Custom Addresses – This allows you to create additional Domain URL prefix’s for your mail domain ie:’mail.yourdomain.com‘ :

User / Members Accounts – user mailbox’s (Up to 500!!)

Open Membership – Great commercial angle to allow you to share your Domain with subscribers to a service or your website:

Co-Branding – Allow you to brand your email experience, ideal if you are using Open membership features:

Domain Reports – All important management tool to monitor activity on your email usage, a summary list of available reports below:

You should not be set-up with your Outlook.com service. You can add additional domains to this all managed by your principle Microsoft Account, or any other Microsoft Account you may wish to designate.

Other features you may wish to explore will include the Microsoft Live SkyDrive and Office Web application linkage that you get for collaboration with Outlook.com, you can access this from the Outlook.com mail interface at http://mail.live.com, top left click the down arrow next to the Outlook banner, see image below:

This will open up a link menu to other rich interface features and SkyDrive for document sharing and Office Web Apps integration:

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