Microsoft has launched the beta version of its Windows Live Custom Domains service, which offers e-mail and instant messaging service for existing domains. The free service offers up to 20 e-mail accounts per domain, with each mailbox featuring scanning for junk mail and viruses, as well as 250 megabytes of storage space - adding up to a storage limit of 5 gigabytes of e-mail for each domain.
With Windows Live Custom Domains, Microsoft can offer e-mail services to business users who want a free solution but are reluctant to use its existing Hotmail service. Tying the new offering to an existing domain makes it easier to address any abuse of the service for spamming, which historically has been a major issue for free e-mail services.
Microsoft hopes to attract users who have bought domains from major registrars, as the help section of WindowsLive Custom Domains includes instructions on changing nameserver settings on domains housed at eNom, Network Solutions, Register.com and Domain Discover.
Microsoft recently signaled its growing ambitions in web hosting as it unveiled a preview of Office Live, a free service which includes a domain name, 30 megabytes of storage, five e-mail accounts and traffic analysis software. The accounts will also include advertisements, which allows Microsoft to generate revenue from the growth of contextual advertising, but is likely to be an issue for many businesses seeking a professional web presence. The new Windows Live service could be of interest to those users, allowing them to host their web sites elsewhere while using free storage and filterings ervices from Microsoft.