Before getting into more complex Outlook.com topics related to accounts, let’s quickly examine some of simplest ways in which you can migrate to a new Outlook.com email address. Using the Alias feature, you can continue using your long-lived Hotmail account but benefit somewhat from a new Outlook.com email address too, assuming you plan to exclusively use the Outlook.com web interface.

Note: You’re going to be hearing this a lot with these tips. Aliases are not a new feature in Outlook.com. Microsoft added this capability to Hotmail in early 2011. But as with most things related to Hotmail, many people simply didn’t realize how powerful that service had become. With Outlook.com, you get the beauty of the new Metro-style interface and the brawn of what was secretly one of the most powerful email services around.

The release of Outlook.com has of course excited many people, particularly those who use a lot of Microsoft products and services but were never enamored of the Hotmail name. While you could change your existing Hotmail account to a new Outlook.com account (and yes, I will examine this in a future tip) or simply start over with a new Outlook.com account, these possibilities might be too extreme for others.

But there is another way, as long as you don’t mind some limitations. You could simply continue using your existing Hotmail account, via the superior Outlook.com interface, but create a new Outlook.com email alias that features the outlook.com domain name (no more embarrassment from Hotmail.com).

An alias looks and works just like a real email address. But it’s not a separate account. So if you have all your Xbox LIVE Achievements, Zune music and video purchases, and other bric-a-brac associated with you legacy Hotmail account (which is also a Windows Live ID, or what’s now being called a Microsoft account), or you have a Windows Phone and don’t feel like hard-resetting it (which is required if you rename your Hotmail account to a new Outlook.com account), well, this lets you keep that old account, and all its stuff. But also have a new outlook.com address which you can use for your email.

Aliases are really designed to let you segregate certain email tasks from your main account. For example, if you’re worried about giving out your actual account name to newsletters, shopping sites, and other places that might sell or otherwise misuse your address, you can use an alias when signing up for those services. When the spam starts coming in, just delete it.

Are there downsides to aliases? You bet.

First, you can only create up to five aliases each year. You won’t be able to use an alias on Windows Phone or any other mobile client or email application; it will only work from the Outlook.com web interface. (Microsoft is working to fix this.) And you can’t sign in to outlook.com with an alias: You must continue using the original Hotmail account.

Still with me? Here’s how you can set up an alias in Outlook.com.

First, ensure that you’ve enabled the Outlook.com user experience on your Hotmail account. (To do that, navigate to outlook.com and sign-in with your Hotmail account.) Going forward, it won’t matter where you sign-in (hotmail.com, outlook.com), you’ll get the new Outlook.com user experience.

From within Outlook.com, you can reach the Create Alias interface from Settings (gear icon), More mail settings, Create a(n) Outlook alias, Or you can go there directly using this URL: mail.live.com/?rru=createalias

create-alias

Just type in the address you want (like pthurrott@outlook.com) and Create an alias.

If the address you’ve chosen is available—obviously, you can’t use an address that is used elsewhere, either as a full-fledged email address or an alias—you’ll be presented with a full-screen interface where you can choose how to handle incoming messages addressed to that alias.

setup-alias

If you choose Skip this step, email will simply be delivered to your inbox normally. But remember that you can always use a rule to redirect email accordingly.

When you create a new email message, you’ll see that the alias is available as the sending address from a drop-down menu.

new-mail

There’s one side-issue related to aliases that I need to resolve: Let’s say you choose an alias that you really like but then you want to later use that same address for a full Outlook.com account. Can you do this? Is there a waiting period? I’ll find out.

UPDATE: Please read Outlook.com Tip: Use Email Aliases (Part 2) for the answers to these questions.