Microsoft has stopped accepting new registrations for its free Custom Domains service, effective immediately. The nearly 10 year old free ride is coming to an end. The move was announced today on the Windows Live Admin Center page, where users manage custom email addresses. ZDNet’s Ed Bott first reported the service’s demise.
Custom domain support allowed you to use Outlook.com to manage a personal, non-Microsoft email domain—such as [email protected] or [email protected]— with the limit of up to 50 individual email accounts per domain. It was a great, free feature for personal use and startups alike, but alas, even good things must end from time to time.
Existing custom domain users won’t be left completely out in the cold, however. Although the service no longer allows you to assign a new custom domain to Outlook.com, administrators of currently enrolled domains can continue to add and remove existing addresses for approximately two more months. All current email address will continue to work in Outlook.com and the support will extend indefinitely.
Similar to Google’s shutdown of Google Apps sign-ups in 2012, Microsoft’s using the termination to migrate users to the business editions of Office 365, in this case. From the Windows Live Admin site:
“For domain administrators who wish to continue to manage email addresses in their domain, we will be providing the option to migrate your account to Office 365. As part of Office 365, you will be able to continue managing your custom domains, as well as use many additional productivity tools including shared calendars, cloud storage and instant messaging.”
Affected users will also be offered a free three-month subscription to Office 365 Small Business Premium. The complimentary subscriptions will be available for up to five accounts and cannot be added to an existing Office 365 account.