Outlook.com Tip: Understand Your Paid Options

Posted on January 26, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Outlook.com with 27 Comments

Outlook.com Tip: Understand Your Paid Options

While no one has ever asked to pay for Outlook.com, there are some associated paid Microsoft services that will make for a better overall experience.

Here’s what’s available.

Ad-Free Outlook.com

Available for $20 per year, Ad-Free Outlook.com removes the graphical ads from Microsoft’s consumer-oriented webmail client. Oddly, if you pay for Office 365 Personal or Home (see below), you still see graphical ads, so this (or Outlook Premium, also described below) is something you may want to still consider.

To be clear, “graphical ads” refers to the awfulness you see in the rightmost pane of the Outlook.com web interface. And using an ad-blocker doesn’t help: That pane will still be there, with a message that reads, “It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker.” So it may still make sense to pay for Ad-Free Outlook.com (or Outlook Premium, below) just to get back that onscreen real estate.

Note: If you never access your Outlook.com email on the web from your PC, you can skip Ad-Free Outlook.

Outlook Premium

Available now in Preview, Outlook Premium provides a number of nice features. These include:

  • Custom domain support for five users. You can pick a personalized email address (like thurrott.com) and assign email addresses (like [email protected]) for up to five users.
  • Information sharing. Outlook Premium helps you easily share calendars, contacts, and documents (via OneDrive) between those five users. As Microsoft notes, sharing relationships are set up automatically between the people who have email addresses on your domain. So this is an ideal solution for families.
  • Ad-free inbox. Like Ad-Free Outlook.com (above), Outlook Premium offers no “banner ads” (which I assume is the same as “graphical ads”) for a “distraction-free view of your email, photos, and documents.” In other words, this works across Outlook.com and OneDrive.com. (Though I’m not aware of ads on OneDrive.com.)

Outlook Premium costs just $20 per year during the Preview time frame, but the price is going up to $50 per year after that. So you can save if you jump on board now.

There is one other nuance to know about: Getting a custom domain isn’t free. If you purchase a domain elsewhere (or already own a domain), Microsoft will let you use it for free with Outlook Premium. But if you use Outlook Premium to find and then acquire a custom domain, you will need to pay for it on an annual basis. The cost is $10 per domain per year. (Which is roughly what most domain registrars charge.)

Office 365 Personal or Home

Office 365 doesn’t directly impact Outlook.com, but if you do subscribe to an Office 365 consumer product, it will be associated with the same Microsoft account.

As I noted previously in Which Office 365?, Microsoft offers two versions of Office 365 for consumers, and each uses Outlook.com for email, contacts, and calendar management. Office 365 Personal is aimed at individuals only, and Office 365 Home is aimed at families with up to five members. They break down like so:

Users. Office 365 Personal supports just a single user. Office 365 Home supports up to five users in a household.

Full Office. With Office 365 Personal, you can install a full version of Office on one PC or Mac. With Home, you can install full Office on five PCs and/or Macs, which can be spread out over up to five different people in the family.

Office on full-sized tablets. With Office 365 Personal, you can also install Office apps on one full-sized tablet (iPad or Android) and gain access to the premium features that only come with this subscription. With Office 365 Home, you can do so on up to five full-sized tablets (again, across up to five different users).

Office on smartphones. With Office 365 Personal, you can also install Office apps on one smartphone (iPhone or Android, currently, Windows Phone is a freebie) and gain access to the premium features that only come with this subscription. With Office 365 Home, you can do so on up to five smartphones that are used by up to five different users.

Online versions of Office. Both subscriptions provide access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote Online on the web. Office 365 Home applies to five users.

OneDrive. Every Office 365 Personal and Home subscriber gets unlimited cloud storage on OneDrive, but with Office 365 Home, all users get unlimited storage.

Skype calling. Every Office 365 Personal and Home subscriber gets 60 minutes of Skype calling to mobile phones (in 8 countries) and land lines (in over 60 countries).

Both subscriptions are tremendous deals. Office 365 Personal costs just $69.99 per year, though you could pay $6.99 per month, instead, which works out to about $84 per year. And Office 365 Home costs $99.99 per year, though you could pay $9.99 per month, which works out to about $120 per year.

Choosing between these two subscriptions is simple, I think. If you absolutely, positively only need a single full Office install, just grab Office 365 Personal. But if you need two or more, for yourself or with one or more other family members, Office 365 Home is a tremendous deal.

Note that Office 365 does not provide custom domain support or an ad-free Outlook.com inbox. So if you need the former, you should sign-up for Outlook.com Premium, noted above. If you would just like an ad-free inbox on the web, you can add Ad-Free Outlook.com instead.

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Comments (27)

27 responses to “Outlook.com Tip: Understand Your Paid Options”

  1. 10224

    The OneDrive storage should be 1 TB per user, not unlimited. My OneDrive settings still say 10,240 GB with the Office 365 subscription, but there is a note saying that it goes down to 1 TB on March 1.

  2. 661

    isn't there a OneDrive limit of 1TB for Office 365 users?

  3. 5539

    Since when is OneDrive back to unlimited?


  4. 8444

    Jason Savard has a great chrome extension to hide the ad pane :)


    Only on chrome though

  5. 430

    Still no love for the folks stuck on Windows Live Domains here...  I setup my family's custom domain with email using WLD way back when, and while I'm glad to still have the ability to use those addresses (and free, I might add), I'm starting to get a little concerned that they aren't going to ever give me a way out to something that is actually supported.  I actually inquired directly with them, and there answer was simply that "Windows Live Domain users are not supported for Outlook Premium signups"

  6. 1570

    I would totally use Outlook Premium if it was available in the UK. I used to use Windows Live Domains when that was a thing, but ditched it for an outlook.com domain when it became apparent that they were dropping support for that. Hoping they roll Premium out globally soon.

  7. 5496

    I have the free version. A few days ago, they have started to put ads in my folders. Makes it look like an unread email. The only folders it isn't in, is sent and drafts.

  8. 442

    Before I started using Office 365 full time, I paid for the $20/year with Bing credits.  It was a sweet deal.  But they removed that ability, and Office 365 became a must have for me, so, oh well...

  9. 191

    "Outlook.com Premium Preview is currently only available to US customers."

    Here we are, yet again.  Boo!

  10. 668

    Is the $10 per yr charge for a custom domain, after the first year, only for those who register for their domain via Outlook Premium? If I already own my domain, and if I transfer my email from Office 365 Exchange Online to Outlook Premium, will I still be charged the $10 per year?

  11. 157

    When I signed up, I learned that as a subscriber to Ad-free Outlook, I get Premium at no charge for the first year.

  12. 5554

    No thanks. Why should I pay for Outlook when Gmail gives me everything for free, and NO PICTURE ADS? Those really cheapen Outlook.com and make it look like a typo domain landing page with generic shopping links.  AWFUL. 

  13. 1561

    Here's a question I've been wondering about the Outlook Premium service. I signed up for it a few weeks ago and got [email protected] as my address. Microsoft procured the domain for me. So I understand they now own it on my behalf, etc.

    I get the feeling I probably should have bought the domain myself and the provided it to Outlook Premium, but now that I find myself in this arrangement, is there anything else I can do with it? For example, could I use it to brand my Wordpress site? Or at this point, is it only good for a vanity email address?

  14. 7260


    Finally was upgraded to Outlook Mail this week.  Perhaps only to temp me with the Premium offer...

    Mark from CO

  15. 246

    Just a note for those who haven't gotten the upgraded Outlook.com, you can't subscribe to Outlook Premium. You get this error message when signed in with a Microsoft account that hasn't been migrated:

    "Your mailbox has not been migrated to the new Office 365 Platform. You can not sign-up for Outlook.com Premium until your mailbox has been migrated."

    You can setup a new Microsoft account, but that seems to be a poor solution that adds yet another email address to my long list of addresses.

  16. 8547

    Does anybody know if Custom Domain will work with a dot-name domain and e-mail address?  (I.e. [email protected])  This is a DNS-level domain that auto-forwards to a "real" Outlook.com address.  There is no EAS/SMTP server associated with the domain or address.  I have been able to use [email protected] as an alias in Outlook.com (although it got broken in the Outlook.com upgrade), but e-mails are sent with the dreaded/despised "On Behalf Of".

    Is there any way to ask this question of Microsoft?  There is no way on the product offer page to contact MS.

  17. 1309

    Outlook desktop, often and completely randomly, will send email from my Outlook Premium address instead of my regular email.  

  18. 180

    Is there anything stopping an individual from just buying O365 Business Premium? I'd guess not, and with the combined cost of Outlook Premium and O365 Home, it comes out the same. Proper Exchange Mailbox, Skype for Business, Teams, and a bunch of other tools. That pricing almost starts to make sense.

  19. 289

    Outlook Premium includes "custom domain support for five users. You can pick a personalized email address (like thurrott.com) and assign email addresses (like [email protected]) for up to five users." 

    Wouldn't each user have to pay for Outlook Premium?  For example if my wife and I wanted to use [email protected] and [email protected] wouldn't we each need to pay the $20 per year?  

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