Totally Free, Surprisingly Valuable

Some while back I wrote briefly about Microsoft’s OfficeLive, not to be confused with the productivity suite with a similar name. At that time there were three different levels of this plan all free during their beta phase.

Microsoft is about to move past beta with Office Live but their basic version is to remain free anyway. This is a pretty good deal considering that by signing up for the free service you get a free domain, free hosting space for that domain, and free email accounts.

I was floored that something free would be this nice. While you can use the online site builder you can also publish your work into the hosting space conventionally. The servers are super fast too.

If you want some hosting space to experiment with some .net stuff, this is a good place to start.

Needless to say; most of my friends and relatives have registered their names as domains with the service and are using their “personal” email addresses with the sort of pride that only newbies who’ve just stepped up to their own domain can muster.

This service is something that you, as a professional developer, might want to look at. Lets say you have a client who wants a basic site and some email capabilities. Why not set them up with an OfficeLive account. You can still make them their site how you normally would and to save you both some hassle, just let them use the online interface for email, that way you won’t have to worry about them setting up an email client on their desktop machines, and the hassles that go with it.

The online email interface is truly exceptional. I’ve been making webs and helping people with hosting and getting online for a long time. I’ve seen a great many online email interfaces and believe me, this one is the absolute hands down winner in both quality of presentation and usability.

How usable is it?

Well, the other day I shot an email off to my daughter’s email account on the system (her own name as a domain). I just wrote a quick email and sent it off as a test, then promptly forgot all about it.

About an hour later I heard the familiar Outlook “glonk” sound and went to my inbox to investigate. Much to my surprise it was an email from Nina. She’d actually seen the new email from me show up on her Windows Live home page I set up for her while she was playing “WebKinz,” clicked it and launched the OfficeLive email interface, read my test message and replied with “I love you daddy”.
Since Nina is only seven years old I have every confidence even our lowest skilled web development clients will have little problem using this system.

OfficeLive is definitely something that you should consider for certain clients, and something that’s a rare combination of both free, valuable, and of extremely high quality.

Check it out:

Chris Leeds, MVP, WPD
Chris Leeds is a longtime digital photographer and Web enthusiast.

Chris has recently developed and released a software product that allows Webmasters to create Web sites that can be edited by their clients with just a browser.

Chris also maintains and operates Northeast Digital Photo.

Chris has additionally had “Tips and Tricks” and numerous articles published, on Microsoft’s site and other locations, regarding various facets of FrontPage and recently served as a technical reviewer for the O’Reilly Press “FrontPage 2003 the Missing Manual.”

His latest writing project is in the role of author for Microsoft Press’ forthcoming “Expression Web Step by Step.”

[tags]Free Domain, Free Email, OfficeLive, Chris Leeds, Web Development[/tags]