Windows Live Custom Domains

I try to be a good Microsoft citizen - using our software wherever possible, providing feedback to the product teams, filing bugs, and generally dogfooding. (Hopefully that doesn't imply that I'm blinkered to the merits of other software: I certainly don't mean to imply that we have the best product in every space, or that I only use Microsoft software.) But there are times when some technological barrier prevents me from "doing the right thing", and that's frustrating.

One particular example recently has been personal email. Like a lot of people I know, I keep my work and personal email separate for various reasons, and I bought a ten-year lease on a vanity domain name a little while back. I don't want to be tied to a single mail provider for the rest of my life, and I want to retain some control over my email address as well as having something that's easy to remember. Of course, this has precluded me from using Hotmail, the shared personal calendar services, the new Kahuna mail beta, or a number of other new Windows Live services that we're starting to roll out, as well as the inconvenience of having to maintain my own mail server. On the other hand, I don't want to become just to benefit from those services.

I was therefore delighted to see an internal mail announcing the launch of a new Windows Live service yesterday that allows you to be a fully-fledged member of the Windows Live world whilst bringing your own domain. Windows Live Custom Domains allows you to use Hotmail (or soon, Kahuna) for email whilst retaining your domain name. You just register the domain of your choice and point the MX record to the Hotmail servers (having registered on the Windows Live site), and you can then simply sign in with your own email address to Hotmail and receive mail there. For me, it was quick and painless to move my entire family over to the new service - barely five minutes' downtime and we were receiving mail at the new location. Now my wife can get at her email from anywhere without relying on a POP3 client; we can see our email as part of the portal, and we've got free email with integrated IM capabilities.

If you've got a personal domain, try it out - you can always switch back again if you don't like it. You can be the hero of your family by registering a vanity domain name related to your surname and then handing out vanity Hotmail addresses! And I can breathe a sigh of relief that I'm being a good corporate citizen and start sending useful feedback!

More details on Windows Live Custom Domains at the team blog on MSN Spaces.

Comments (5)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I signed up for the service, and hope my post helps anyone thinking of participating.  The process was very simple, and with the exception of some registrar’s taking a while to update MX records, very quick.  the only thing that people new to hotmail should know that all outgoing mail will have an add inserted at the bottom of their outgoing mail, this can be removed by upgarding to Hotmail plus for $20.  I think that combined with the new live mail client, it is a very solid step to "thinning" out the pc and moving more applications to web services.  I fully  encourage anyone that currently hosts or manages their own domains and wish to hand off the management off to Microsoft to give it a try.  

  2. Tim Sneath says:

    Thanks for the update, Pepper – glad it worked out for you too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have been using Custom domains for a while now, and it looks pretty good. If you are on the move and want to have a web based email address then it’s the right way to go…

    I have also signed up Outlook Live with this services and encounted no problem what so ever… So if anyone who is thinking of signing up their Custom Domain’s E-mail to Outlook live / Hotmail plus, they shouldn’t have a problem with it…

    What I want to try is the New Live Mail services with Custom domain…

    N.B : Live mail do _not_ work with Custom Domains at present. Only works with / Accounts. So, please don’t waste an invite trying to signup a Custom Domain email…

  4. Anonymous says:


    Moved my company email over to custom domain live, and all the adresses are now using kahuna as of 20th march. If I want to upgrade to hotmail plus or outlook live do I have to pay for each adress or can I upgrade the domain?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Let me get this straight, If I move to windows live custom domains, I end my contract with my current webhost – right?   I use ftp for for storing files for which I provide links.  This allow my students to access various files via web.  Thanks in advance for any clarification you provide.

    Thanks Again,


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