Internet domain owners can now outsource their e-mail and instant
messaging to Microsoft.
The new service, Windows Live Custom Domains, lets domain name
owners access MSN services without the need for a Passport,
Microsoft's star-crossed authentication system.
The new offering, available in beta, is part of Windows Live,
Microsoft's new hosted services center. Windows Live, announced
November 1, also includes Web mail, a customizable personal start
page and Windows Live Safety Center, an online security tune-up
available for Windows machines, all in beta.
Domain owners can create up to 20 e-mail accounts, with a
250-megabyte inbox for each account. Microsoft will filter junk mail
and scan and clean any viruses before delivering mail.
The service also connects with MSN services such as MSN Messenger
and MSN Spaces.
Microsoft did not respond to a request for more details, but
Windows Live Custom Domains likely is built on the Frontbridge
technology that Microsoft acquired in July. FrontBridge specialized
in managed services for secure enterprise e-mail and messaging. It
was during that acquisition that Microsoft first began talking about
delivering its software as a service, a concept it now calls "live
Windows Live Custom Domains will be ad-supported, another model
Microsoft has become bullish about.
In a blog entry, Omar Shahine, a Microsoft program manager,
wrote, "Windows Live Custom Domains allows you to basically point
your [mail exchange] record to us (Windows Live) and get free
Windows Live Mail accounts, messenger accounts, and well anything
you can use a passport for. No longer are domains
Mail exchange records, or Mxes, are entries in the domain name
database that identify the mail server responsible for handling
e-mail for a particular domain.
The service provides an unobtrusive way for small businesses and
individuals to maintain their existing Web hosts while connecting to
Microsoft plans to offer free Web hosting for small businesses
with Office Live, expected to launch early in 2006.