This somehow passed me by. Microsoft have a service called Windows Live Admin Center which, among other things, let’s you use Outlook.com as your domain’s mail server. Effectively you’re able to set up a free Exchange server for your domain’s users. A quick search revealed a tutorial on the subject.
Google has been offering this as part of their Google Apps service for a few years now and have a free 10-user edition. Whilst I don’t think Microsoft’s service offers as many features as Google’s, the core features of mail, contacts and calendars are there. But the really surprising feature is Microsoft allows up to 500 users for free.
But, and it’s a pretty big one if you’re a lover of desktop email clients, one caveat is their (lack of) IMAP support. If you’re not a Windows user and want desktop email, you’re either having to use outlook.com or suffer the horror of POP3. Microsoft have stated they’re working on improved IMAP and Mac support. Outlook 2011 is basically a re-skinned Entourage 2008 and neither of them work with outlook.com.
I’m going be testing this out further in the coming weeks so will post a follow-up with how it’s going.