There’s no such thing as a free domain

Microsoft Office Live Small Business used to offer a free Internet domain for their users. As of October 1, 2009, this freebie goes bye-bye. Domains up for renewal after that date will only be renewed if you pay $14.95 a year. Although I’m never crazy about paying for something that used to be free, I will at least give Microsoft credit for:

  1. Making the annual charge reasonable rather than gouging their existing customers.
  2. Not pretending that the Office Live Small Business service will somehow be enhanced or that this is anything but a way for Microsoft to earn more (or lose less) money.

My guess is that Microsoft has determined that a huge number of people signed up for the Office Live Small Business service simply because it was free, and that Microsoft has no desire to keep paying the ICANN fees for folks who aren’t even using the service (like yours truly).

I learned a new term today for the practice of giving something away at first and charging for it later: “freemium.” It’s hardly a new concept. Drug dealers have been using this model forever.

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