If you are interested in using a free online email service that allows you to include your company’s website domain name in your email address, then Outlook.com is the service you are looking for. Launched in February 2013, Outlook.com replaced Microsoft’s former free online email service, Hotmail.com. It offers a free email service alongside a suite of communication and collaboration applications that integrates with Microsoft’s PC and laptop-based software, including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Outlook.com also offers SkyDrive cloud storage – a service that provides 6.99 GB of storage space per Outlook.com account – where users can store digital files and objects of any nature.
It is pretty easy to set up Outlook.com under a ‘vanity’ domain. Here’s how you do it:
2. Add your domain name and click on ' set up Outlook.com for my domain '. Then click on ‘Continue’.
3. You will be invited to ‘Sign in with an existing Microsoft account’ or ‘Create a new Microsoft account in your domain’, in our case: firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. If you chose the latter, add your details to create an account.
5. If you chose the former, complete the recapture and click on ‘I Accept’.
6. You will arrive at a page which provides an MX server number which reads something like: MX server: 1a2e3s4s5s6s6s678.pamx1.hotmail.com. You must add this to the MX records in your domain names hosting account control panel. If in doubt, contact your provider.
7. The page also offers ‘Server trust’ details. You need to add the given value to the ‘SPF record’ available through your website’s hosting control panel. It reads something like: Value: v=spf1 include:hotmail.com ~all. Again, if in doubt, contact your provider.
8. When the values in 6. and 7. have been added and propagated, you can use your account. To check if this has happened or not all you need to do is click on ‘refresh’ in the page above and the system will show you.
9. Some tutorials suggest that it takes 24-48 hours for the changes to propagate, but (using a Hostgator shared hosting account) we found it almost instantaneous.
10. As soon as the changes take effect, you can use your Outlook.com email account. Login and send a few test emails.
After these simple steps you will have a powerful resource available to your company which presents you well in email communications and helps your staff be more efficient.
Have you utilized Outlook.com as your company email? Was it as good as we said? Any pitfalls? Let us know. Add your comments below.