Thursday, October 4, 2012

Setting up Windows Live Admin Center (

A few days ago, I wrote a post informing all of you that I was moving to my own domain. All of you had something positive to say, and I appreciate that.

Today I'm going to touch up on how to get email set up using the Windows Live Admin Center, the Windows Live alternative to using the Google Apps. I really like Microsoft's services, and more importantly, I would trust them more with my data then Google. Not to say that Google Apps is bad, but just my preference.
If you check out this forum post that I did at Microsoft Answers, you can see that I (obviously) had trouble setting this up. They kept saying that I had a MX (Mail Exchange) record problem, but I didn't know why. I finally figured it out, and wanted to share all of my experiences with you.

First off, I am obviously not going to use GoDaddy for email. They do charge for email accounts, and I just don't know why. So instead, I decided to use Windows Live Admin Center for email. To get to the Windows Live Admin Center, go to your browsers address bar and type in This should take you to a landing page, looking a little bit like this: 

If you are not yet signed in using your Microsoft Account, then you should do so by clicking the sign in link at the top right, or clicking the big "Sign In" button in the middle of the page.

After logging in to the admin center, you should get a home page with all of your registered domains for Windows Live services. In this case, I only have one domain listed with only 2 email accounts registered. As far as I know, I don't think I'm making any email accounts for the community members here, as I'm preserving accounts for writers I'll add on later, even though I have 500 to go though before anything starts getting ugly.
Clicking on your desired domain takes you to a page that displays all of the member accounts registered on this domain. I blurred out my domain email addresses just for privacy concerns, but right now I am working on getting a generic email address that you can contact me with. For now, just use the hotmail address. You can also access domain settings from the first tab.
If you go to the domain settings tab, you see all DNS records that you are required to have, recommended to have, or optional to add. I am not going to show you that page, because it has domain specific mail server records on it. It also shows you if your domain is having DNS errors, or if your domain is verified. You can see a domain verification image below. It took me a little bit to figure out my MX problem, and I'll tell you about that later, but right now I'm not risking another screw up and a few hours of forums surfing.
CNAME Shortcuts

If you were not aware, you can also set up CNAME DNS records to access your mail from yoru domain. In this case, this is currently the CNAME's that I have for Windows Live on my GoDaddy Zone file. As you an see as well, I have a small amount of CNAME records. This is because I cleaned out all of GoDaddy's built in mail system, as I'm not going to use theirs. I'm going to use Windows Live, obviously. Here is two pictures for you to look at. The first one is the domain listings in the Windows Live Admin Center, and the second one is the CNAME listings in the GoDaddy DNS editor.

I like the custom addresses a lot, but I wish they would not redirect to the actual domain. Perhaps it could be something like.{mail account info} That way, you are not redirected to the domain, which is really not that much of a problem. Just a thought.

Open Membership

Open membership means that you can point them (users) to a page where they can register for a email account without the need for you to approve of anything. I have this turned off, as I don't need it. I'm not running a site where you can grab email addresses for almost no reason. I just might create you an account if you need one, though. It depends.

Open Membership >> Sign Up Module

This settings basically allow you to create a HTML banner that says to log in. If you have Open Membership turned off, there is really not that much use for this. If you need to log into your email account that is a Microsoft account, you can now use my link at the bottom of pages to sign in as well, as it does not actually take you to a specific page for my website.

Co Branding

Co-Branding in the Admin Center basically allows you to add a very small logo to all of your email accounts, sort of how the Windows Live logo works. The logo has to be very small, though. I did add a logo to mine, but it is still small. The logo also shows up in other services such as SkyDrive, despite of having that new interface that makes it seem like you are not going to get branding in.


SDK is the software development kit. I'm guessing that you can integrate something, such as an email address, with an application. A good example is sending automated emails for forum posts, etc. I don't really use this at all, but still a nice feature to have.


Reporting allows you to collect reports on Windows Live service usage on your domain. This does not really personally identify users, but is sort of like a type of analytics. I don't use this much at all either because I don't really need this right now, and I still have a small number of email accounts.

Wrap up

Overall, I am very glad that I am using Windows Live suite of services on my domain, as I really didn't fell like having to use Google Apps. I also like Microsoft's terms of service better then Google's, especially in the case of Google Drive. If you have questions, let me know in the comments below. Before I completely go, let me touch on how to potentially fix DNS issues you have.

If you have DNS config errors in your Admin Panel, and you are 100% POSITIVE that you are doing everything it asks, then do the following. Go to your DNS manager, and download a backup of your DNS records. Should something go terribly wrong, then you have something to restore to. Next, locate your MX (Mail  Exchange) records. Delete every other server record in that field, making sure that only the Hotmail server is in that field. Then save. Wait a few minutes, and everything should be working fine. If you still have an issue after that, then go ahead and contact me in the comments below.