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June 28, 2006

Some Windows Live news updates

Posted by David Hunter at 9:39 AM ET.

Dare Obasanjo points to a post on the Microsoft Windows Live Custom Domains team blog that reports that Custom Domains is out of beta:

We’re leaving the “Beta tag” blanket at home. That’s right…thanks to your beta testing and feedback; we’ve now officially launched Windows Live Custom Domains. Our colleagues over in Messenger kicked off the Windows Live launch season last week. Along with the launch of OneCare and Live Favorites, we’re excited to continue the momentum. Windows Live is about the Web, the way you want it. Personalization is a key piece here, and let’s face it…your identity online is central to that. Custom Domains enables people to use all of the Windows Live and MSN services they want with an ID that’s as unique to them as they want it to be.

For those who aren’t familiar with Custom Domains, we provide free hosted e-mail for your domain. Let’s say you own the domain name, “” With Custom Domains, you get unlimited, free e-mail accounts at that domain. You can open accounts for,, etc. Oh wait, did we mention that it’s free? This isn’t one of those “free during beta” trial offers. This is free for life.

New Feature: Open Membership

We’re jazzed about a new feature we’ve added called Open Membership. How does this work? Let’s say you run a website called “” Your users love your site and want an e-mail address Prior to this launch, each user would have to request an e-mail account from the administrator. Then, the admin would manually approve and create each account. We’ve made things much easier all around with this launch.

With the Open Membership featured enabled, we provide URL links so users can automatically sign-up for an e-mail account Admins no longer have to burden with the manual creation of email accounts, and users get accounts immediately. Users will love their new email because it’s a brand new MSN Hotmail or Windows Live Mail beta account with a highly personalized domain name. Web site owners will love it because their users help promote the site. Also, users will re-visit the host site often to check their e-mail.

I can think of a few serious downsides to providing on-demand email addresses at your domain to whoever drops by on the Web, but the general Custom Domains idea is fine.

This also reminds me that I have heretofore failed to mention that Windows Live Favorites is out of beta as well. It’s the service that allows you to store your browser favorites online.

Finally, the beta of Windows Live Local has added free calling to businesses that appear on your map displays:

A new release of Live Local went out over the weekend. Mostly minor bug fixes, but a few new features made it in as well. One of the more interesting is the ability to phone any business for free. Using it is easy – do a business search by name or category and in the result panel will be a ‘Call for Free’ link next to each business listing. Each pushpin popup on the map will also have the Call for free link. When you click it you specify your phone number -the system will dial both you and the business and connect you. Once you’ve made your first call, you can rapid dial businesses without having to re-enter your phone number.

It’s USA only for the moment and per LiveSide (where there are some screenshots) it is called “Windows Live Call for Free.”

I’m a little puzzled by the monetization of this feature, since Google is running a beta of the similar Click-to-Call in search results ads, but that’s for advertisers only which presumably covers the phone bill. (Yahoo is also testing a similar feature for local search advertisers.) Microsoft, however, seems to be paying the full tab on Call for Free, but without any direct offsetting revenue. Indirectly, of course, they are displaying ads on the page.

Filed under Coopetition, Google, Live Search Maps, Microsoft, Windows Live, Windows Live Call for Free, Windows Live Custom Domains, Windows Live Favorites, Yahoo

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3 Responses to “Some Windows Live news updates”

  1. Windows Live Toolbar ships sans marketing -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] But here’s a puzzle. Do you get the feeling that Windows Live marketing has gone AWOL since Martin Taylor’s disappearance? Windows Live OneCare and Windows Live Messenger got press releases when they shipped in May and June respectively (at which point Taylor left), but Windows Live Custom Domains and Windows Live Favorites just got posts in Microsoft blogs when they shipped in June, as did Windows Live Expo when it shipped in July. Now Windows Live Toolbar doesn’t even get a post in a Microsoft blog that I can find. [...]

  2. AOL freebie rollout continues -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] At first blush it appears to be the equivalent of Windows Live Custom Domains, but it has a critical difference. With Custom Domains you show up with your already registered domain name and Microsoft gives you email. With My eAddress, it appears that AOL is going to be registering and renewing the domains for their users for free much like Microsoft does with Office Live Basics. I guess domain registration is now the new loss leader in the consumer space as well. Filed under Coopetition, Windows Live OneCare, AOL, Windows Live, Office Live, Windows Live Custom Domains, Commoditization, Microsoft   [Permalink] [...]

  3. Microsoft and Ingenio combine for mobile Pay Per Call ads -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] There’s nothing wrong with signing up for ads with what is effectively a middleman, particularly when it is a market leader, but one wonders how it fits in with Microsoft’s development of its own Windows Live Call for Free. Filed under Coopetition, General Business, Windows Live, Ad-supported software, Windows Live Search, Windows Live Mobile, Microsoft, Windows Live Call for Free, Ingenio [...]

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