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Microsoft’s “Free Domains” Aren’t

There was a post on Web Worker Daily about Microsoft’s “newly launched” Office Live Basics. Back when Microsoft was beta testing it, it was called Windows Live Custom Domains, which I previously wrote about. Same basic idea, but now they supposedly worked out all the bugs.

When I tried to sign up, their webpage said I needed Internet Explorer to sign up. And therein lies the “non” free part of this offer: the requirement to use Internet Explorer to sign up. Now granted most people have a Microsoft OS–myself included, but I see this as a needless tax. I also see it as a dumb policy. How in the world can you expect to show off your superior technology when you lock out users who aren’t already using it?

Okay, so I went over to my Windows-enabled PC and decided to give it a try. The signup process lets you pick a .com/.net/.org domain, which you can take with you if you find the service isn’t to your liking. You have to pay for the domain after you transfer it, but hey, at least while you have the service with them, the domain is free.

It’s also not entirely free because they want you to use a credit card to sign up. Theoretically, you’re not getting charged, and they are doing this to limit fraudulent use, but just to be on the safe side, I created a temporary credit card number with a one dollar limit.
I clicked around inside of the administration interface and found it to be basically the same experience as my previous foray into this. Even worse, when I signed into my administration panel and clicked on the Inbox link, I was told by the Hotmail site that “The .NET Password or Windows Love ID you are signed into is not supported. Please set up a free email account.” Huh?

This just doesn’t seem like a polished product. But then again, Microsoft is not known for shipping polished products or anything. It’s taken Microsoft a quarter century to get an OS right, assuming what people are saying about Vista is true.


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