Microsoft stops taking new registrations for free custom domains service

One of Microsoft's free services that's been around since 2005 is being slowly shut down. The company quietly announced Thursday on its Windows Live Admin Center website that it has stopped taking new registrations for its free Custom Domains service for Hotmail and Outlook.com customers.

The website states that administrators who manage email addresses in these custom domains will be given the option to move them to Office 365; this means Microsoft is shutting down their free service in favor of one that requires a paid Office 365 subscription.

While the website states that current Outlook.com users can no longer add or remove new accounts in their free custom domain,  ZDNet reports that domain admins will still be able to create and delete accounts on the service for another two months. Sometime in June, that feature will be shut down, but all custom email addresses will continue to be supported "indefinitely" as stand alone Outlook.com accounts.

Once the transition is completed, Microsoft will give custom domain users a free three month subscription to Office 365 Small Business Premium to help ease the move from the free to the paid email service.

Source: Microsoft via ZDNet | Image via Microsoft

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I wonder happens if you change hosting companies.

I've been using this service for many years due to a Microsoft employee posting about it here on Neowin. This is going to significantly impact myself and my family.

So I use my custom domain in the Windows 8.1 mail update.. no matter what I do now it won't sync emails past Friday (when they announced this change) Please tell me it's just a glitch. Anyone else having this issue?

Eh, this really sucks. I was encouraging families to purchase custom domains and use this for their personal accounts. Can't do that anymore, which is a damn shame :(

One thing I don't like about office 365 here in Australia is that subscription is managed by Telstra and that they require an Australian Business Number to actually get a subscription. What if I'm just a hobbyist?

I've been keeping tabs on them as a possible place to park, but I keep waiting for them to offer aliases... but you can only create account aliases for their 3 domains. If my main account is account@mydomain.com, why is the only alias option account@live.com/outlook.com/hotmail.com. Pretty dumb I could never alias account2@mydomain.com.

Travelar said,
I've been keeping tabs on them as a possible place to park, but I keep waiting for them to offer aliases... but you can only create account aliases for their 3 domains. If my main account is account@mydomain.com, why is the only alias option account@live.com/outlook.com/hotmail.com. Pretty dumb I could never alias account2@mydomain.com.

I don't know, I just created a few accounts name@mydomain.com, support@mydomain.com, sales@mydomain.com... and set them all to forward to my main account.

Aliasing is available, but not through the web interface for some strange reason. You needed to talk to the web service. There is a program called WLAlias that does this.

Yea. I did find that. It just didn't work as well as expected. For some reason, I couldn't send as the alias, which breaks half the reasons I wanted to use aliases. I think you can do everything I want in O365, but I'm not sure that I want to incur that cost right now.

Does anyone know of another similar free / paid service?

I dont need a hosted Exchange account. I'm looking for something as basic as this, which was a glorified Outlook.com account. The only difference between an Outlook.com account and this was the custom domain, which I have already purchased on my own.

Damn, I use it regularly for two personal domains. I really like Outlook, and couldn't see myself using another email provider.

I'd happily pay if it wasn't too expensive, but if it is aimed at businesses, then it will probably cost quite a bit.

Come on ppl, if you have a small business and find $60+tax per yr for what is being offered by Microsoft to be expensive, I think it's time you close the doors and find yourself a job. I totally understand people that just use the service for personal emails, having an issue with the cost of migration but certainly not a small business.

For what it's worth here's what you get for $60+tax

http://office.microsoft.com/en...ness-plans-FX104051403.aspx

kerell78us said,
Come on ppl, if you have a small business and find $60+tax per yr for what is being offered by Microsoft to be expensive, I think it's time you close the doors and find yourself a job. I totally understand people that just use the service for personal emails, having an issue with the cost of migration but certainly not a small business.

For what it's worth here's what you get for $60+tax

http://office.microsoft.com/en...ness-plans-FX104051403.aspx

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you referring to email address at a @example.com as accounts. If you are, then $60+tax gives you 25 accounts. Have you checked the link I posted above?

kerell78us said,
I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Are you referring to email address at a @example.com as accounts. If you are, then $60+tax gives you 25 accounts. Have you checked the link I posted above?

It's $5/month/user.

Joe User said,
25 accounts is $1500 a year. 1 account is $60

Not to mention that there is no reason for anyone using the Custom Domains service to move to Office 365. Custom Domains was just a glorified Outlook.com service that allowed you to use a custom domain, everything else was the same. They're not suggesting that we move over to a hosted exchange with a subscription to Office and other things that we dont need.

I'm pretty pissed. Google pulled the same stunt on me.

I have multiple domains that I manage for which I use this service, my users ONLY use the service for email and sometimes the calendar. That's it, email and calendar. I'm expected to pay for this?

MidTxWRX said,

Not to mention that there is no reason for anyone using the Custom Domains service to move to Office 365. Custom Domains was just a glorified Outlook.com service that allowed you to use a custom domain, everything else was the same. They're not suggesting that we move over to a hosted exchange with a subscription to Office and other things that we dont need.

I'm pretty pissed. Google pulled the same stunt on me.

I have multiple domains that I manage for which I use this service, my users ONLY use the service for email and sometimes the calendar. That's it, email and calendar. I'm expected to pay for this?


This. Been using it as I would've with a normal outlook account, just has my own domain name and my first name. Which was a huge plus on the reason why I even started using Outlook. Got quite a few people around me using this service, having their own domains and used to have hotmail/outlook/gmail email accounts.

The hosted part where you got MORE then a basic MS account with your own logo and domain name, would be fine if that merged with the rest. But this custom domains thing part going kinda sucks.
MS could've used it as a special feature of Outlook.com (since its the only one that offers it), but nah. So many people (small bussiness, hobbyist or whatever) would love this functionality, only if they knew it was available (and easier to setup, average joe's messing with DNS settings, meh)

kerell78us said,
Come on ppl, if you have a small business and find $60+tax per yr for what is being offered by Microsoft to be expensive, I think it's time you close the doors and find yourself a job. I totally understand people that just use the service for personal emails, having an issue with the cost of migration but certainly not a small business.

For what it's worth here's what you get for $60+tax

http://office.microsoft.com/en...ness-plans-FX104051403.aspx

what about those of us with custom family domains? I find it far more professional and personal to have name @ lastname.com, and it costs me barely anything. No way I need office 365 at all. I have office professional on my PC's, and use ActiveSync from my pc's and phone for email and calendar. I also use this as my main Microsoft account for Xbox and Windows phone. You can't even change your Microsoft account address for windows phone without losing purchases and factory resetting your phone.

I am glad I migrated my domain to Microsoft years ago and persuaded my friend to do so a few days ago.

I only have one email address for my domain, so this change doesn't bother me, as long my standalone account and email continues to work as usual.

Dyn stopped it's free domain hosting service as well. I never knew outlook.com did this though I've never had the need to do this for email. I switched from using my free Dyn account to one from no-ip.

This is sad news. First Google took away their free version of Google Apps and now Microsoft is doing the same thing with this.

I'll be honest though, I thought they had already done this. I had forgotten about it. I used back before Outlook.com and never really was a fan of Hotmail.

So they took away their free version. That's what I said. I never said or even implied that they took it away from current users.

Just want to be sure about something: If I sign into Outlook.com using (for example) 68k@australia.com just for (free) Office Online (not 365) access, am I safe, or will my account be terminated in the future?

68k said,
Just want to be sure about something: If I sign into Outlook.com using (for example) 68k@australia.com just for (free) Office Online (not 365) access, am I safe, or will my account be terminated in the future?

You email domain is hosted with someone other than Microsoft, so this doesn't apply to you.

I already use this as well. I'm more nervous that they will someday take the functionality away completely for existing customers - I use my custom address as my primary Microsoft Account now for signing in to Windows 8.1, etc. Surely they won't make us existing users someday create a new Microsoft account? I would loose all the syncing features in Windows.

And if I *did* switch to Office 365 (I prefer the standalone office and determining when I feel like paying more money for a new Office) would that allow me to still use my custom domain in Outlook.com?

scotters83 said,
I already use this as well. I'm more nervous that they will someday take the functionality away completely for existing customers - I use my custom address as my primary Microsoft Account now for signing in to Windows 8.1, etc. Surely they won't make us existing users someday create a new Microsoft account? I would loose all the syncing features in Windows.

And if I *did* switch to Office 365 (I prefer the standalone office and determining when I feel like paying more money for a new Office) would that allow me to still use my custom domain in Outlook.com?

the part where they say the accounts will be supported indefinitely makes me,think they will be simply turning the ms account into a standard account, so email for the custom domain will stop hitting outlook.com but sign in will still work (just like creating a ms account with another email domain address).

so i just need to repoint mx to another service and setup outlook.com to pop it to pickup mail.

duddit2 said,

the part where they say the accounts will be supported indefinitely makes me,think they will be simply turning the ms account into a standard account, so email for the custom domain will stop hitting outlook.com but sign in will still work (just like creating a ms account with another email domain address).

so i just need to repoint mx to another service and setup outlook.com to pop it to pickup mail.

I don't think the MX email will stop working. Everything will work as usual.

Ronit Bhattacharjee said,

I don't think the MX email will stop working. Everything will work as usual.


i think it will, that's why you'd need to switch to 365. It'll be like setting up an account with your work or gmail etc address, the new account wouldn't handle your email. We'll see

duddit2 said,

i think it will, that's why you'd need to switch to 365. It'll be like setting up an account with your work or gmail etc address, the new account wouldn't handle your email. We'll see

They state existing accounts will not change. You just lose the ability to add new users.

So the MX will continue to work. PERIOD.

scotters83 said,
Surely they won't make us existing users someday create a new Microsoft account? I would loose all the syncing features in Windows.

What would happen is when you try to sign it, it would let you know that the email is no longer accessible and they would have you specify a new email or create an alias. So you would have the same account with all of your synced information, you just would have to sign in with a different email. I know this because I tried signing into a live domains account I had after I deleted the account through admin.

scotters83 said,
And if I *did* switch to Office 365 (I prefer the standalone office and determining when I feel like paying more money for a new Office)

Won't comment on the other stuff (because I myself have no clue), but you can purchase Office 365 Small Business, which gives you the website and domain name, but not a subscription to the Office products. So that may be something to look into. :)

Mobius Enigma said,

They state existing accounts will not change. You just lose the ability to add new users.

So the MX will continue to work. PERIOD.

The account will not change, as in the Microsoft account. Email is separate. If you sign up for an MS account with your own email then its simply an MS account, used for accessing (login) MS services. If you signup and get an email address from them then its handling email as well.

When they say the 'account' wont change, I belive this means 'you can still sign in, your purchases are still valid, your xbox live still has points etc' what I don't think it means is 'we will still handle your email service for your custom domain' - I maybe wrong, but that's how I read it.

Lame..... this is as bad as when google took google apps free away.

I have a grandfathered gapps account and this will actually push me back over there.... office 365 is too expensive for just hosting our families domain email.

jagowar said,
Lame..... this is as bad as when google took google apps free away.

I have a grandfathered gapps account and this will actually push me back over there.... office 365 is too expensive for just hosting our families domain email.

$5 per month per email address is too expensive?

Mr Nom Nom's said,

$5 per month per email address is too expensive?

It's too expensive when you can get the same thing w/o your domain name for $0/month.... same goes for gapps but I have a grandfathered acct there.

and really it would be far more than that because I have a family domain name so my parents have accounts under my name as well as a few other family members. They do it so I can fix it for them when they have problems vs trying to get non existant support from ms/google.

I would absolutely subscribe to a $99 per year service where I could have as many accounts as I want. But I am not paying $30/month for such a service.

Mr Nom Nom's said,

$5 per month per email address is too expensive?

You do realize that this service was basically a glorified Outlook.com email account? The ONLY difference between the Live Admin / Custom Domains accounts and a regular Outlook.com account is that the Custom Domains account had a ...custom domain.

A domain that you yourself purchased.

Yes, its a lot, when you have a small business, its just another useless expense and complete ########. So now I have to pay $45 bucks a month for my employees. Just as scummy and backstabbing as google apps. They offer the service with their domain name for free. Using my domain name as a login has absolutely no added performance tax on their system and in fact turns out better because we dont take up their usernames.

Having to pay that amount out of a simple email service is ########. Because I dont need all the features of 365. Just the email and thats it.

dxgs said,
Yes, its a lot, when you have a small business, its just another useless expense and complete ########. So now I have to pay $45 bucks a month for my employees. Just as scummy and backstabbing as google apps. They offer the service with their domain name for free. Using my domain name as a login has absolutely no added performance tax on their system and in fact turns out better because we dont take up their usernames.

Having to pay that amount out of a simple email service is ########. Because I dont need all the features of 365. Just the email and thats it.

So it took you almost a month to come up with a reply? honestly, if you're struggling to pay $45 per month then one should probably ask whether ones business is actually viable.

This sucks I actually use the service to get Outlook.com email on a custom domain. But I certainly won't be going to Office 365 though...

Obry said,
This sucks I actually use the service to get Outlook.com email on a custom domain. But I certainly won't be going to Office 365 though...

Simple, move to another service, then use your existing MS Accounts as a staging area and forward the mail back into it via an alias.

So if you have joe@joesmoo.com - move joesmoo.com to another provider, then setup forwardjoesmoo.com as an alias with your MS Account, and forward the mail back to Outlook.

You can find cheap email hosting services for about $5-10 a month (and a few free ones).

Mobius Enigma said,

Simple, move to another service, then use your existing MS Accounts as a staging area and forward the mail back into it via an alias.

The problem with that is that it doesn't work that well. I have tried forwarding my mail from my hosting and zoho and not all email is forwarded. I believe that outlook refuses a lot of mail because it flags it as spam.

The only sure win is to have it pull in via pop, but then again, there's a 30 minute wait between pulls

I'm doing the same thing for my family accounts. I will certainly not buy "small business" O365 for my home use to keep my Outlook.com e-mails on the custom domains... I hope they will keep the service for current users otherwise I will have to think about staying on Outlook.com. Because one of the advantages of the custom domain is that you can leave the service and keep the address...

They didn't. It was for their hosted email solution and since it supported that it also meant you could use all their other stuff. Currently I have a domain setup with no email attached strictly due to a weird account issue where I have to have it setup in order to establish account secrets. Weird I know.