If you are one of those small business people who took advantage of Microsoft's free website tools and hosting, you’ve certainly heard Microsoft is discontinuing these services effective April 30th, 2012. I found the Microsoft Small Business Live free website and hosting irresistible, so I built one for myself as well as several clients; this was before I found WordPress. Now I exclusively use WordPress and the great themes, plugins and support from iThemes.
1. Before your account closes, take the time to export your email, contacts and calendar. If you’re going to move your account to Office 365, then the instructions are here. I transitioned one of my email accounts to O365 and for $6/month, it’s wonderful to have Exchange email for one person. If you don’t want to move to O365, how will you save your email from your Small Business Live Account? It depends on what mail client you prefer. We'll look at transitioning to a free Hotmail/Live account or a Gmail account.
Transfer to a free Live/Hotmail account using Outlook
This is how we accomplished this for my daughter who opened a new, free Live mail account with Microsoft. She has Outlook 2010 and already had her Office Live Mail coming into Outlook 2010 via the great Outlook Connector.She added her new Live account into Outlook and then made sure she had the same folders in that account and simply copied them from the old folder to the new one.
For me, I moved my personal domain to hover and set up my email account with them. I then added my Hover email account to Outlook and did the same copying over of the emails, making sure I made the same folder over in my Hover account.
To make a new folder in Outlook, simply right-click on your email name and scroll down to ‘add new folder’ and do so. Contacts – go back to your Office Live account and click on ‘Contacts’, then click on ‘Manage’, there you will see the export option, click on that and you’ll most likely want to export to a .csv file.
Then in Outlook, import them by clicking on ‘File’, ‘Open’, then a box will come up and select ‘import from another program or file’, click ‘Next’ and select ‘Comma Separated Values’, locate your exported file and import it. I just used the defaults and didn’t try to do anything fancy.
Calendar –here are instructions from Microsoft:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/980534
Exporting Calendar from Windows Live Mail to Microsoft Outlook 2010:
- Open Windows Live Mail.
- Select the Calendar folder and make sure that you are logged in by using your Windows Live ID.
- Click Send/Receive to sync your calendar.
- Close Windows Live Mail.
- Visit the Windows Live Calendar webpage http://calendar.live.com and logon by using your Windows Live ID.
- Click the “Share” button and select the calendar that you want to export.
- Select the option “Share this calendar”.
- Put a check mark in the item topic “Send people a view-only link to your calendar”.
- You will see some links to share your calendar. If the links are not displayed, click “Get your calendar links (this will also save your settings)” and then click OK to confirm.
- Under the category “Links that show event details”, click “ICS: Import into another calendar application”.
- Select and copy the URL displayed without the webcal:// prefix.
- Open a new Internet Explorer window, paste the URL without the webcal:// prefix in the address bar and press Enter.
- Save the calendar .ICS file on your Desktop.
- Repeat the steps 5 to 13 for each calendar that you want to export.
Note: After complete these steps your Windows Live Calendar settings from the webpage are saved as Shared. You can make the calendar private again following the steps 5 to 7 above. Select the option “Don't share this calendar (keep it private)” and then click Save.
- Close the Internet Explorer window after you save all the .ICS files that you want.
- Open Microsoft Outlook.
- Click File, select Open and then the Import option.
- Select the option “Import an iCalendar (.ics) or vCalendar file (.vcs)” and then click the Next button.
- Select the .ICS calendar file in your Desktop folder and then click Ok button.
- Click the “Import” button in the dialog box and wait for the import process to be completed.
- Repeat steps 17 to 20 for each calendar that you want to import.
Perhaps you don’t want to use Microsoft mail anymore and you have a Gmail account. You may know that you can import mail from IMAP and POP mail into Gmail and have it integrate with your main inbox, or make a filter and have your Live Mail go into a folder. The best instructions I’ve ever found is from the How-To Geek website. So I’ll just provide the link and you can follow those instructions.
Once you have your mail, contacts and calendar transferred to Gmail, that will serve as the backup for your live mail. Then when you cancel your account, you know you have a copy of all your email, contacts & calendar over at Gmail.
From what I’ve been able to find, your website, contacts, email and calendar will all cease to function as of end of 4-30-12. I’m assuming it’s not accessible, but they don’t say. I’ve also read that your free fourth-level domain will still exist and in fact, they’ve said it can’t be canceled (don’t know why).
A sample of a fourth-level domain would be - skipchilcott.Web.officelive.com. So don’t cancel your account before you take action to keep your email, etc. that was mentioned above. If you have a website, you can export it, but it really won’t do you much good because from what I’m reading, it can’t be imported into Dreamweaver or really any other program that I’ve found. It can not be exported as an .html or any other kind of website file either. I exported mine, but it’s most likely worthless.
You’ll sign into your Office Live account and click on ‘Account Management’, then you’ll see the choice to ‘Cancel Account’ over on the left. When you click it, it’ll bring up details and ask you to make sure of the account you’ll want to cancel.
If you click the ‘Keep the account…’, it’ll just take you to the O365 offer. I did have a custom domain on my account and they didn’t send me any information, but I had already taken my custom domain off the site and transferred it to Hover, so perhaps that’s why.
You’ll get a warning of what will happen when you close your account. When you click the ‘cancel’ button, I think they even sent me an email to make me confirm I wanted to cancel, so you will have several opportunities to change your mind.
Here's one of the final warnings!
I hope my experience helps you navigate through what you’ll need to do to close down your account. There is a pretty good community over at Office Live, where you can read and search for answers. If you register, you can post questions. They’ve been good at getting back to me. Good luck with your transition and if I can answer any questions, leave a comment or email me directly at lynn (at)extremevirtualsupport.com. If you find yourself in need of a new website, I’d certainly like to visit with you about that too.