If you are a user of Windows Live Custom Domains, you may have heard that Microsoft is retiring this service and users are encouraged to sign up to Office 365 as an alternate service. If you’re thinking about switching your services then I recommend you hold off and read the points below first! I tried to switch and I got burned by the process. Hopefully the comments below are of help to you Dear Reader.
Signing up to the service
As it turns out, the initial sign up process is the easiest thing to do. You can choose a plan that suits, such as the ones mentioned in the Office 365 link above. You also have an option of a 30 day trial. The next step after signing up is to start adding your domains to the service through the Office 365 portal login page. If like me, you want to do this for services that were previously hosted using Windows Live Custom Domains, then BEWARE! AND READ ON!
Adding websites to Office 365
To add websites to Office 365, the first thing you need to do is verify that you own the domain name you wish to add. To do this, the initial step is to choose how you will manage your DNS records and then update those to point your website’s *TXT/MX *records to Office 365. Once this is completed, the next step is to verify the domain ownership through the Office 365 portal after the TXT/MX records are added. When I did this, I kept getting the error below.
Sorry, we couldn’t verify the domain name
The domain is already being used with another Microsoft hosted service, such as Office Live or Live@EDU, and a domain can be associated with only one service. Try one of these things:
– Remove the domain from the other service, and then try again to verify the domain.
– If you didn’t add it to another service, ask a question in the Office 365 community. Include this error message so others can help with the issue.
After getting this error I started searching for solutions online, I came across this thread with a response from someone at Microsoft.
Cancelling your Windows Live Custom Domain services
The response recommended doing the following steps:
To cancel your service in Windows Live Admin Center, you need to perform the following steps:
Sign in to Windows Live Admin Center by using your administrator Windows Live ID.
Under "Your domains", click the appropriate domain.
In the navigation pane, click Domain Settings.
Click Cancel Service, and then click Yes.
WARNING: trouble, trouble, trouble!!
I’m not really sure why you have to cancel the Windows Live Custom Domain service before being able to verify your domain on Office 365. However, this process broke everything for me. Be careful before you do take this step*. *I didn’t hesitate in following these cancellation steps because I read on this Move your custom domain to Office 365page the following text:
Move your custom domain account holder data.
Custom domain account holders can continue to use their email addresses to access other services that require a Microsoft account, such as Windows 8.1, Xbox,OneDrive, and Skype.
After you have set up your custom domain in Office 365, email sent to your account holders will arrive in Office 365 instead of in Outlook.com. Existing email already delivered to Outlook.com will remain there.
Your custom domain account holders have the option to move their email history, contacts, and calendars from their Outlook.com inboxes to their new Office 365 accounts. Each individual account holder must move their own data. As domain administrator, you’ll need to instruct your account holders to move their email, if they want.
So, reading the above, I thought everything will be ok and I cancelled my Windows Live Custom Domain services without thinking to much about the process. It didn’t register to me at the time that this cancellation is effectively going to delete your custom domain emails. Fortunately, I do have a recent backup of my email data locally so I didn’t lose that many emails! Not only will cancelling your Windows Live Custom Domains services result in your emails being lost. They will also force you to rename (effectively recreate) your Custom Domain Live ID to another Outlook live ID alias. After you log on you will be greeted with NO EMAILS in your inbox. The process of restoring lost emails after an account rename didn’t even make any difference either.
To make matters even worse, after further digging, I came across this thread from others who have had similar issues, according to a response from Microsoft in there,it could take up to 90 days for the Windows Live Custom Domains data to fully deleteand the association to be removed so that the domain can be verified in office 365!!! An insanely long amount of time.
In summary, thanks to misleading statements on websites from Microsoft, I thought I can easily move from Windows Live Custom domains to Office 365. To me, the instructions imply that you should be able to switch TX/MX records from pointing to your Live Custom Domain details to Office 365 and then switch back if things go wrong. Being able to successfully do this would also mean that your email data wouldn’t get lost in the process. However, thanks to the dependency in Office 365 of verifying your domain name on no references existing elsewhere in Microsoft databases, this process is basically impossible and wont work.
Thanks to everything mentioned above, the only option I have for the time being while waiting for the 90 days to pass – or for some divine intervention! – is to find another host for my primary email. I’ve had a look around and it looks like Zoho Email is a good option so I’m using that now.
I really hope that Microsoft removes this dependency for verifying domain names in Office 365 so that one doesn’t get forced to delete their previous service until everything is up and running. This would also make the behaviour consistent with what’s implied in the instructions! I’ve asked around for some help and will update this post if I receive info that helps resolve this.
So there it goes, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, the rest is up to you!