Microsoft revealed Outlook.com Premium, a subscription-based version of its free Outlook.com email offering earlier this year.
Back then, the offer was only available to select customers who took part in the beta test. The company appears to have opened the doors for sign up to Outlook.com Premium to the public recently.
While limited to users from the United States currently, it is likely that the offer will be extended to other regions eventually.
At its core, it is an offer for existing Outlook users and new customers to gain access to a handful of advanced features for a yearly subscription fee.
You are probably wondering about the differences between the free and premium version of Outlook.com.
Outlook.com Premium vs Free
One of the big features of premium Outlook.com accounts is that the inbox is completely advertisement free. While that may not be important for users who use third-party clients to access their emails, those who use the Outlook.com web service to read, send and manage emails may like that.
Premium customers may also use up to five personalized email addresses instead of email addresses that Microsoft offers as part of the free service.
So, instead of picking an email address ending in .outlook.com or other domains provided to free users, premium users may pick a custom domain name instead.
They may add a custom domain they already own to their account during sign-up, or pick a new available domain for that instead.
Related to that are options to share calendars, contacts and documents between those custom email addresses.
Microsoft runs an offer currently to promote the new premium subscription option. Users who sign up for Outlook.com Premium right now get it for $19.99 instead of the regular price of $49.99 per year. Also, the custom domain, if picked and not imported, is free in the first year as well. Users who use their own custom domain can do so without extra charge.
If you think that is quite expensive, you are not alone. Google charges $5 per user for its G Suite Basic plan for instance which gets you extra features such as 30 Gigabytes of online storage, phone and email support, and video and voice calls for $60 per year.
Outlook.com Premium customers pay at least $49.99 after the first year. If they pick a custom domain for their emails, that is an extra that gets added to the total. What makes this even more unappealing is the fact that Microsoft will be the owner of the domain name you pick, and that you only get guaranteed access to the selected email addresses for as long as you pay the extra charge and remain an Outlook.com customer.
Considering that you get better value subscribing to hosting plans that get you as many email addresses as you like, ensure that you have full control over your domain, and a web hosting account on top of that, it is questionable if Microsoft's offer will be that popular.
It may even be better to sign up for a web hosting plan anyway, and use that domain for Outlook.com Premium, instead of using Microsoft's offering to use that domain through Outlook.com. The main benefit here is that you retain full ownership of the domain name regardless of your Outlook.com subscription status.
Now You: Expensive or reasonable? What's your take on the Outlook.com Premium price?