Free one year domain, email and hosting via Microsoft (need CC).

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 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 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?

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  • Roy Smith

    Define ‘business’? A word who’s stem originates from ‘busy-ness’, I look after my own busy-ness you look after your own busy-ness if we do something together it is our ‘busy-ness’ and no-one else’s ‘busy-ness’ unless they want to be freely included in our ‘busy-ness’

    Once again applying the Creative Commons and GNU approach ‘free’ as in ‘freedom’ means to be able to choose your own ‘busy-ness’ and share it equally with all freely and have the ‘freedom’ to do so!

    As far as I am concerned running your own ‘busy-ness’ with no profit involved but sharing everything you do in that ‘busy-ness’ even on a website with no thought of material gain or return is definitely non-commercial and just an extension of everyone’s human rights.

    I know it is a bit of a gray area as Ashraf says, but it is arguable that it is no different, if there is no profit or gain involved, to putting things out there on any Messenger platform etc

  • Jean Luc Picard

    I use Notepad on the home PCs and Script Editor on the School’s Macs.

  • Oh now I get what you are getting at.

    Yes I agree that using software intended for personal use only for commercial use is wrong.

    However, remember just because you have a website that does not mean it becomes ‘commercial’ automatically. A commercial website would have to be someone selling something. A blog, or a website that displays your work, is still considered personal in my opinion.

    But ya, I agree with this offer is definitely ethically gray if you are not a small business. But I don’t think Microsoft would mind if a home user signed up then forgot to cancel their account by one year if you get what I mean. :)

    May I ask what website you are working on?

  • Ambuj Saxena


    My problem isn’t with the fact that people can register and use it even if they don’t have a business. My problem is about whether it is wrong to use software and content which is specifically purchased with a non-commercial license in order to build such a wesbite. Most of the free software you will encounter on the web clearly say that you can use them for personal use for free, but require payment for commercial use. Using them to create content for a website registered as a small business is wrong. Of course, there are people who won’t see anything wrong with this.

    CC-BY-NC is a (copyleft) Creative Commons License which allows the work to be used as long as it is attributed and isn’t used for commercial purpose.

  • Ambuj,


    I feel the same way about mine. But me, personally, I don’t consider it ‘illegal’ if the general public wants to take advantage of this offer. Now if you had to be a registered business and in order to sign up one lied and made up a business, I would say ya that is illegal. But as it is now, every one being able to sign up, I think of this as morally gray rather then illegal. And as I mentioned, I am okay with morally gray. :P

    And what exactly is CC-BY-NC?

  • Ambuj Saxena

    I initially thought of doing it a few months back, but eventually decided against it. The reason was simply that I didn’t want to do anything illegal on my website. Most of the software I have on my computer (that I planned to use for website-building) are personal use only (non-commercial license). Thus if I use them to build a website meant for small businesses, it technically counts as a commercial use. Also, some of the content that I planned to use on my website was CC-BY-NC, so again it would have been illegal for me to use it. Of course, there are people everywhere with the “Devil May Care” attitude, going as far as sharing music and movies online, and they will find it very useful. But not me.

  • And I don’t even have a CC….
    just offering tips!