I’ve been a true Google Apps fan for years now. But for a few reasons, I really wanted to move the e-mail management part from Google Apps to Outlook.com. The reasons for the move are mainly because of this:
- Google Apps is not free anymore. Not a problem for me, as an existing user. But I don’t like the direction that Google is taking with this decision.
Well, because of that, I decided to make the move. I’ve been a fan of Outlook.com since it was released, so it was the right time to make the switch. In this post, I will describe how you create your own custom domain, the DNS settings you need to make, and how you can make e-mail aliases.
First things first, we need to create a custom domain using http://domains.live.com. Sign in with your Live ID. Note that it can be one from your custom domain. In my case, I already had a Live ID making use of mydomain.com. Once you’re signed in, click on the ‘Add Domain‘ button. Enter your domain name, and select ‘Set up Outlook.com for my domain‘. Review and accept the next screen.
You will now get a screen with the question tho prove the ownership of this domain by creating a DNS record. Because we decided to set up Outlook.com for this domain, the first DNS record that you have to create is the MX one. To create an MX record, go to the DNS management part of your personal domain, or contact your hosting provider. The settings will look like this:
Once you’ve added the MX record, you can click on the ‘Refresh‘ button. If everything went correct, you will now be able to add some ‘Member accounts‘. Click on the ‘Add‘ button to create a member account. Enter the account name, for example ‘firstname.lastname@example.org‘, a first name, last name and password. Click the OK button to add your account.
In fact, that’s all you have to do. You can go to mail.live.com and log in with your new account. Note that you will still see the old ‘hotmail’ look, but you can simply change it to Outlook.com using the options button on the right.
One import part, although for me, is the fact that if you already have a Live ID using this custom domain and you enable ‘mail’ for this custom domain, it will automatically create that user in the ‘Member Accounts. For example, I had a live ID email@example.com. This Live ID also had an Outlook.com inbox, but it was empty off course. But by creating a custom domain, and enabling the mail option on domains.live.com, it automatically created a member account ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. That’s all I had to do.
One thing that is missing from the ‘Windows Live Domains’ is the ‘Alias‘ feature. Well, in fact it does exist, it’s just not available from the interface. It’s possible to create aliases using the Admin Center SDK. After some Bing’ing (I couldn’t be the first one with this problem), I found a nice and easy solution to manage my aliases. It’s called WLALIAS. This is a command-line based tool making use if the Windows Live API.
Once you’ve downloaded the tool (version 1.5). You can add the following command to add a new alias (it will ask you to provide the Live ID you’ve been using to create the custom domain)
wlalias add memberName alias
MemberName is the Member Account from domains.live.com
Alias is the name of how your alias will look like.
After you execute this command, you will receive an email on your ‘MemberName’ account telling you that an alias has been added. To get an overview of all aliases linked to your ‘MemberName’. Execute the following command:
wlalias list memberName
You will now get a list of your aliases:
That’s it. My e-mails are now using Outlook.com, I’m happy! One thing that you also have to do off course is moving your ‘old’ Google Apps mails to Outlook.com. You can do this by enabling POP on Google Apps, and link this POP account to your Outlook.com account (but this can fail, mainly if you have lots of e-mails). Another option is to use the Outlook client. Simply add the 2 accounts (Google Apps and Outlook.com) and copy paste your folders.