Some months ago (3-4?) I was surfing Slickdeals when someone mentioned that you could get free domain hosting for forever from Microsoft. The “free” and “forever” part got my attention and so I investigated a little. I found out that Microsoft was no longer offering the free-forever domain hosting offer, but they were offering free domain + email for one year ($14.95 after the first year) and hosting free forever. At the time, I just signed up myself, made a post about it  on SlickDeals and went on my way. Now it seems that CNET has caught on , and thus started a chain reaction with websites like LifeHacker posting  about this deal.
One PMnet reader, who read about this at LifeHacker, just e-mailed me and requested me to post about this in the ‘Freebies’ section, so here I am. Before we go on, know that you do have to have a credit card (you won’t be charged for the first year however) to complete this offer.
Microsoft Office Live Small Business  is offering ‘businesses’ free web hosting, free domain, free e-mail, and other goodies:
Technically while it says ‘businesses’, you don’t have to be a officially registered business so basically anyone can sign up (technically I am a ‘business’ if I want to be – but this offer is definitely in the ethically gray area, albeit I don’t think illegal if you sign up as a home user).
Visit OfficeLiveOffers.com  to attain this offer.
You have to have a Microsoft Live account. If you don’t have a Microsoft Live account, you will register in the process of signing up for this offer so no worries.
I can tell you now that building a website is very cumbersome with this service because you can only use Microsoft’s website builder. To me, Microsoft’s website builder is the 21st century GeoCities website builder. It sucks. However, for beginners it is nice. For people who have some website creation experience, this offer from Microsoft is only good for the free domain for one year since you can transfer the domain/point it to another website after you signup. The domain that registers is registered through Melbourne IT , an Australian company.
If you are interested in only the free domain and not the web hosting from Microsoft do the following after you sign up for this offer (this is how I did it few months ago – someone should verify the steps in case they have changed; contact Microsoft support if you have any concerns):
- Visit Microsoft’s cancellation page  and cancel your Office Live Small Business account. Alternatively, you can just cancel your domain . It is interesting that the help section says “You cannot remove the free domain name that you received as a part of your account when you signed up”. Microsoft may have caught on and now you may not even be able to cancel your account and keep your domain (you were able to do it 3-4 months ago when I initially did this). I am not sure, but it is worth a try.
- You will get a confirmation email that contains a registry key associated with your domain name.
- Visit Melbourne IT’s go direct page  and input in the information that is asked (domain name and registry key).
- Follow on screen instructions and finish registering with Melbourne IT (you won’t be charged anything).
- Once you have access to your account, you officialy own the domain name and it is not longer connected with Microsoft’s Office Live service. Therefore, via Melbourne IT’s control/management panel you can point your domain name to any website you want or cancel your domain name. Once you have control of your domain you can also transfer your domain to another registrar but in order to do that, you have to initiate the transfer process from the registrar you are transferring to, like GoDaddy.com . Remember that your domain will be locked for 30 days with Melbourne IT, but your new registrar will grab it once it is unlocked.
Last thing to remember is that if you don’t cancel your domain within one year, you will be charged a $14.95 renewal fee, which is really expensive for renewals.
Once you have your own domain, I suggest you read up on my list of good/web web hosts  to see which web host you want to buy web hosting from.
P.S. Anyone else think it’s divine justice that I spent $7 transfering my domain away from Melbourne IT and to GoDaddy (when you transfer to GoDaddy you must pay $7 but you get to keep the time you have registered on the domain + get an extra year) and I don’t even use the domain?