Microsoft has come out with its new mail Outlook.com which will eventually replace hotmail. Like Gmail for Google Apps, you can also setup the Outlook.com mail with your own web domain in five easy steps and get a branded email address so that your email address reads like firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com.
(1) Go to domains.live.com and click the “Add Domain” button to add your custom web domain that you would like to use with Outlook. You have to sign-in with your Windows Live / Outlook / Microsoft Account / Hotmail ID to access this Windows Live Domain section.
(2) On the next screen, you’ll be provided with a list of custom DNS records that you will have to add to your domain. The following two records are essential:
(a) MX record for handling your mail traffic:
It usually reads like abc.pamx1.hotmail.com
(b) SPF record to authenticate your outgoing Outlook emails:
It has a fixed value v=spf1 include:hotmail.com ~all
(3) While you are on your domain registrar’s page add these custom DNS records for Outlook, create an additional CNAME record if you wish to access the Outlook.com website as a sub-domain of your main website.
For instance, if your website is yourdomain.com, you can setup a CNAME record called “mail” and you will then be able to access Outlook.com from mail.yourdomain.com. The value of the CNAME record should be set as “go.domains.live.com.” (no quotes but period at the end).
(4) Once you have created all the DNS records, wait for 30-60 minutes as it might take a while for the DNS changes to propagate through the Internet. To verify, open the command prompt in Windows and run the following command (replace yourdomain.com with your own own domain):
C:>nslookup -type=mx yourdomain.com
C:>nslookup -type=txt yourdomain.com
If these records show the recently added Hotmail entries, proceed to the next step.
(5) Go back to the Windows Live Domains site and refresh the page. Once the domain and DNS records have been verified, click “Member Accounts” and add a new user. This will be your new email address powered by the Outlook service.
You can now go to outlook.com or even mail.yourdomain.com (remember the CNAME record you added) and sign-in with the new email address you just created.
Unlike Google Apps which allows you to create a maximum 10 users in the free edition, the limit is 500 users in the case of Outlook / Hotmail. Also, Microsoft hasn’t mentioned any storage limitations for your Outlook mailbox as of now.