According to multiple reports today Microsoft has expanded their Outlook.com Premium Preview program to all users in the United States.
This premium program began limited testing earlier this year but with more accounts being transitioned to the new Outlook.com backend over the last few months, the same one that hosts Office 365 subscribers, it looks like they are ready to expand participation.
Outlook.com Premium provides the following services:
- Up to five personalized email addressees using a custom domain such as @myemailaccount.com.
- The sharing of calendars, contacts and docouments is set up automatically for all users on your custom domain.
- No ads anywhere in the Outlook.com web interface.
- Utilizes the same backend hardware and connectivity as Microsoft's Office 365 subscription service which provides better security, reliability and privacy features.
For anyone signing up for the Outlook.com Premium Preview the personalized email address is free for the first year and you can use a domain you currently own or register a new one through the sign up process with the Outlook.com Premium preview program.
After your first year on the service you will be renewed at $19.95 for Outlook.com Premium and $10 for the custom domain if you registered it with Microsoft. If you brought your own domain to the service then according to Microsoft's Outlook.com Premium FAQ you will only pay the current subscription price for Outlook.com Premium.
I also found it very interesting that if you do register a custom domain with Microsoft during the sign up process and ultimately choose to cancel the service then Microsoft retains control of that custom domain name after your subscription expires.
In my quick look through the Outlook.com Premium website I did not notice some confusion with the cost for this subscription.
First, at the top of the website there is this overlay text about the subscription:
You will notice it mentions the price as $19.95 per year from a regular price of $49.99 per year.
Now, further down the page we see this about the free offer (emphasis added):
"If you want a new personalized email address ending like [email protected], get it free for the first year.* If you already own a domain, use it with Outlook.com Premium at no extra charge. Either way, you can create personalized addresses for up to 5 people and sync everything to your existing Outlook.com mailbox."
So a little further down the page under the Offer terms we find out what the asterisks means (emphasis added):
"*Personalized email free for the first year. Your subscriptions will auto-renew annually at $19.95 (Outlook.com Premium) and $10 (Custom Domain). Custom Domain subscriptions are not available on a stand-alone basis; a concurrent Outlook.com Premium subscription is required. You will be notified if the price changes; cancel at any time at premium.outlook.com."
While I wonder where the regular $49.99 per year quoted price comes from, it certainly looks like the service will be offered at $19.95 plus $10 for the custom domain if you register it through Microsoft.
At $19.95 this service is the same price as the current Ad Free Outlook offering but you get the addition of customized email addresses at no extra cost when using your own domain. That makes for a very compelling deal compared to Ad Free Outlook.
If you want to save the extra $10 for allowing Microsoft to register and maintain the custom domain you could always go register it yourself and then use it for Outlook.com Premium however, that deal is not nearly as good if you have to pay more than $10 for that annual domain registration.
In addition, the setup of the domain's settings for directing mail to Microsoft's servers can be problematic for anyone that has never done that before. Although, if you want to retain the custom domain after you might cancel the Outlook.com Premium service then you will want to register it yourself anyway. Otherwise Microsoft retains that domain when you cancel your subscription as I mentioned earlier.
One last note - if your existing Outlook.com account has not been upgraded to the new Outlook.com then you will not be able to sign up for the premium subscription.