Hands-On with Outlook.com Premium

Posted on February 15, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Outlook.com with 49 Comments

Hands-On with Outlook.com Premium

Outlook.com Premium is an affordable way to set up an online identity with a custom domain. But there are a few gotchas to know about.

Note: Outlook.com Premium is especially affordable if you sign-up for this service before the end of March 2017. And not just this year: Microsoft notes that if you sign up now, “your subscriptions will auto-renew annually at $19.95 (Outlook.com Premium) and $10 (Custom Domain).” That’s a $20 savings over the price if you wait past March.

So let’s dive right into this.

As you may know, you can setup a custom domain (like thurrott.com, which, yes, is already taken) at a variety of services, including Google’s G Suite (formally Google Apps) and Office 365 Commercial. (In fact, I do so at each.) What this means is that you can use a domain name of your own choosing rather than a stock domain (outlook.com, hotmail.com, gmail.com and so on) that is owned by the service provider. That way, when you communicate with the outside world, you can use something personal like [email protected] instead of something impersonal like [email protected]

Years ago, Microsoft offered custom domain services through Windows Live. But with the advent of Outlook.com Premium, which publicly debuted this week, the software giant is back at it. You can now sign-up for this service can use your own custom domain with Outlook.com, OneDrive, and Microsoft’s other consumer services.

There are two very important things to know before you get started.

1. To use Outlook.com Premium, you must first have a Microsoft account. That is, you are not creating a new, standalone Microsoft account. Instead, you will use an existing Microsoft account (like [email protected], which, no, isn’t a real email address) to create your custom domain.

And that means…

2. The first account you create in that new custom domain will be an alias of your initial Microsoft account. This is different from how custom domains work at G Suite and Office 365 Commercial. What this means is that you will later be able to sign in to Outlook.com using your initial Microsoft account ([email protected]) or your new email address ([email protected] or whatever) at your new custom domain. They are both the same account. And you can choose which account to use each time you send an email.

Hopefully, that is clear.

What is clear is that this system has both pros and cons. But the biggest pro is that everything you’ve purchased/subscribed to through that initial Microsoft account will now work with your new custom domain. This is important. If you subscribed to Office 365 Home, for example, it will work. If you purchased apps or games on Xbox or Windows 10, you will be able to sign in with that new account, with its custom domain, and it will work. Again, because that account and your Microsoft account are the same account.

Likewise, any security controls you set up for your Microsoft account—your password, or two-step authentication, for example, or a Microsoft Authenticator app on your phone—will work. When you need a security authorization from your new account, the system you set up for your Microsoft account will work. Again, same account.

Got it? 🙂

In use, Outlook.com Premium works as expected. You can sign-in to Outlook.com with your new custom account, using your Microsoft account’s password. You can send and receive email using this account. All of your old email is there and you can move back and forth between your Microsoft account, your new custom account, and any other aliases such as you did before. It’s all there in one place.

If you sign-in with your custom domain, that is the default for sent emails

To test this further, I signed-in to the Windows Store app on my Windows 10-based PC using my new Outlook.com Premium account. It worked just fine, though my Microsoft account appears in the app after signing in.

What’s not easy is signing up for Outlook.com Premium, at least if you already own your own domain. I configured this service with an existing domain I have hosted at NameCheap, and the steps you have to go through are bewildering and required a lot of Google searches to figure out where to enter various values so that the domain was correctly pointed at Outlook.com. I suspect that this will be much easier if you purchase the domain through Microsoft. (Note that when you do so, the cost is $10 per year, though the first year is free. This is about the same as the price at NameCheap and other domain registrars.)

(I can document this terrible process if necessary. But it took me over 30 minutes to get this thing up and running.)

I will keep testing Outlook.com Premium, but despite the rough onboarding process—thanks to me already owning the domain—and the unexpected alias nature of that first account, it seems solid. This is an affordable option, and it’s a nice way for a family to get a custom domain and not be stuck with an outlook.com or hotmail.com address.


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Comments (50)

50 responses to “Hands-On with Outlook.com Premium”

  1. Avatar


    As I mentioned yesterday, you should also consider how you might want to use your custom domain. I used ODC Premium to register mine and then discovered that since you have little or no administrative control over the domain, you can't really use it for much more than just a vanity email address. I can't, for instance, tie it to my Wordpress blog site. Support told me there was no process for customers gaining access to the domain until after it was released by Microsoft, presumably at some point after you cancel your ODC Premium subscription.

  2. Avatar


    So, if you buy the custom domain through Microsoft can you have multiple emails with that domain that are separate from the original? I.e. you want individual emails for your family...

  3. Avatar


    Paul, I just went through this exact setup with a namecheap domain about an hour ago. I used their live Chat help and the guy was great. He walked me through the process step by step. Yeah, it still took 20 minutes but it was pretty painless. Big thumbs up.

    • Avatar


      In reply to FourBitNibble:

      "Premium is currently only available to US customers."

      Typical Microsoft. A small company in Australia (FastMail) can offer everything ODC Premium does and more, and can do it globally while big ol' Microsoft can't get past the US border.  


  4. Avatar


    Does the annual fee apply to each custom domain or just the service itself?

  5. Avatar

    Gilberto Da Silva Campos

    If in a near future I need more accounts, will it be possible to add them? How will I do it and how much it'll cost? Does anybody know anything about this?

  6. Avatar


    Does Microsoft have any web site or blog hosting services to go along with this email hosting?

  7. Avatar


    Does the "First" account that you start the process with need to be an outlook.com email address? I will be moving an existing custom domain. My Microsoft account is already tied to an email address on my custom domain. I do not have an outlook.com email address. Do I have to get an outlook.com email address before starting the setup process?

  8. Avatar


    Anybody know if I can connect Outlook Premium to more than one domain name? For example if I own abc.com and abc.org and def.com, can I link all of them to my Outlook account?

  9. Avatar


    I noticed that on Outlook for iOS that the custom domain does not show up as an alias for outlook.com.

    • Avatar


      In reply to jlmerrill: You can however, select a premium domain address as your default "From" address. I would not recommend that you select a premium domain address as your default Microsoft account address, if you already use another address in a lot of devices.

  10. Avatar

    Johnny Cox

    I get this message:

    You are being prevented from completing the sign up because the personalized email address you are trying to sign up with is in use by an existing Microsoft account. Please choose another email address to continue.

    I had personalized email before. One on domains.live.com which I went back into and deleted the domain. I also tried office for business about three years ago, and I bet it still has my domain attached to it. I can not get a hold of anyone who knows what they are doing. Everytime I try to get support it is accounts and billing.

     I just want a refund at this point or find the right person to unhook my domain from where ever microsoft thinks it is at.

    • Avatar


      In reply to Johnny Cox: I had the same problem. What I did was to log into the other Microsoft Account and add an @outlook.com email address. Then, I deleted the original email address from that account, freeing it up to be used in the Outlook Premium domain.

  11. Avatar


    Does anyone know how Contacts sharing works?  I see no obvious way to share contacts between accounts, and it is listed there as one of the main features.  This should really be just as easy as sharing a calendar.  

    And I don't mean sharing an individual contact, e.g. through Windows share, which just send a contact card and there is no further syncing.  Want to have a group of contacts that can be shared and persistently synced between accounts.  

    Right now to share contacts between me and the wife we have a separate MSA just to hold contacts, and then add that MSA as a separate account to each device.  But that only works within apps, not when using outlook.com on the web, so it's not a perfect solution. Plus would rather not have to use that separate account anymore.  

  12. Avatar


    Hi Paul,

    If you can share the screenshots of the process that would be very helpful. Nothing fancy, so hopefully that would not be additional work for you, just the screenshots and the names differences that your were referring.

  13. Avatar


    Paul, so it took you 30 minutes to set this up be glad that works. I've been trying to get support for now going on 2 hours with Microsoft. No one knows how in the hell to support this product. I've been passed from outlook.com support to premier support, to billing. I can only imagine where my next transfer will be to. What a nightmare! NOT WORTH THE $20!

  14. Avatar


    I had an issue with mine as well, (so for those that are having issues because it was already in use) I had to go through and delete my O365 users out of the recycle bin before it would allow me to configure Outlook.com premium with my domain that I used previously on O365.

    Also, I had to set the new alias as the primary on the account page so services wouldn't get confused - this updated my xbox, etc.

  15. Avatar


    If you want a custom domain email at $0.00 check out Zoho.com their email service is completely ad free, supports EAS as well as IMAP and POP. Handles up to 15 accounts free at 5Gb of storage each. $40.00/year (total) for 15Gb So far works with Thunderbird, Outlook2016 and the Mail app in Windows 10

    The whole Zoho suite is interesting. Google bought Writely instead of these guys and turned them into Google Docs. MS should have bought these guys.

  16. Avatar


    "Microsoft notes that if you sign up now, “your subscriptions will auto-renew annually at $19.95 (Outlook.com Premium) and $10 (Custom Domain).”"

    The fine print at the bottom of the sign-up page also says:

    "You will be notified if the price changes".

    There's no indication as to what specifically this might refer, so I would take this to mean that none of these prices are set in stone forever. It might renew a time or two at the original price, but after that all bets are off.

  17. Avatar


    This US only thing is getting old. Cortana has limited functionality outside of US. I read in the comments, in another article, the same goes for the Movies & TV app. Frustrating. I want MS to succeed, but they are too slow to roll these services out, IMO.

  18. Avatar


    Paul, thanks for sharing this product, I was looking for this type of solution for my domain name, it was a walk in the park to set up because my current domain registrar is GoDaddy, also used by Microsoft, it took me ten minutes to set up and changed my MX records.

    Keep up the good work!

  19. Avatar


    Has anyone successfully moved their old Windows Live Custom Domain setup over to Outlook Premium?

    How did it go? any pointers or pitfalls?


  20. Avatar

    Kenny Ortega

    Is there any way to also use the custom domain for a website as well as just the email?

  21. Avatar


    would be nice if was available outside the USA.


  22. Avatar


    Paul, if I create an email account for my wife with a custom domain, can she have it linked to her outlook.com account so it's also an alias?

    • Avatar


      In reply to bryan1up:

      Yes. Provided it was set up as a logged in Microsoft account. And she can also create additional aliases once she is a premium member (up to 6 total, including the existing @outlook/@live + custom). Not sure about linking pre-existing though.

  23. Avatar


    I am curious to know how difficult it would be to move to this from MS's hosted Exchange offering which I currently use for our family and pay $4/user/month.
  24. Avatar


    Interesting, the alias nature of the first account is the reason I was most interested in switching from an old (still working) Windows Live Domain to Outlook.com Premium.  I wanted everything to be linked rather than having two separate accounts.

    Honestly, I thought the domain record setup was pretty much the same as Google Apps and Windows Live Domains was (I've used both at various points) so I'm not quite sure what's more of a pain with that than other services.  For me the setup nightmares were that when I first tried setting it up, the signup process didn't see my domain as valid (because of a dash in it) and also that a deleted alias on the Live Domains old account was not showing as being available to take for the new Premium Outlook.com account... but the first has been fixed and almost nobody will have the second issue.

    The real problem for me now is that the new Outlook.com is a buggy disaster basically ever since my account was switched over, but that's a whole other issue.

  25. Avatar


    I understand that Microsoft wants to make some money off this. I also understand that they want to funnel businesses into a different pay\support model.

    But limiting this to five email accounts is idiotic. I have six people in my immediate family and then a handful of 'fake' emails I use for various websites and services I don't want going to my main account. And then I add my parents, siblings, etc. All told - around 15 email accounts.

    I'd suggest that MS should either make it unlimited for personal accounts or some higher # - perhaps 50. 
    But right now MS keeps doing things is such a half-baked manner that I'm using outlook and their services less and less.
    Couple that with my kids school using google docs and my reasons for continuing to be in the MS ecosystem grow fewer and fewer. Oh, and the death of Windows Phone.

    Microsoft could be growing the fanboy and enthusiast market but nooooooooo. 

    • Avatar


      In reply to yaddamaster:

      From their standpoint, I think there would be real concern about businesses opting to pay only $30 per year (includes $10 for custom domain) to provide mail, calendar and storage (?) for up to 50 people.  That's $0.05 per user per month, which is like 100x cheaper than a basic business license.

      I guess they figure the 5 user limit covers the vast majority of US households (mom, dad, 1-3 kids).  Grandma is on her own. 

    • Avatar


      In reply to yaddamaster:

      The 5 user for family sharing is pretty much universal now.  5, or less, is the limit on every consumer service I can think of... Amazon music/prime, Apple music/apps, Google music/apps, Spotify, Office 365, ... 

      Sucks if you need 6  or 7... but they do need to draw a line somewhere.  Would be better if they would allow adding additional for an extra fee instead of a hard stop.  

  26. Avatar


    I signed up yesterday, as well.

    Some additional notes:

    1) Premium aliases don't show up in the Windows 10 Mail app right away. This can be fixed by signing out and in on the app.

    2) The Mail app doesn't allow for alias-specific signatures.

    3) The iOS Outlook app appears to allow for various "send from" aliases, but it only is showing duplicate entries of my @live.com address in the drop down on the email draft form in the app. Puzzling.

    4) I easily was able to add another Premium address by inviting my colleague's address @live.com, who seamlessly was upgraded to Premium

    5) Each Outlook.com account can have a total of 6 aliases. I was easily able to add an alias with the new domain, which did not count against the 5 total.

    6) The upgrade cost me nothing -- when I signed up, it said I was already an ad-free customer of Outlook.com (paid for with Bing Rewards). I don't know how much the renewal will be ($20 or $50 per year) and when that period will start. There's no apparent place to discover this info.

    • Avatar


      In reply to jbuccola:

      Free/busy calendar status auto-populates on colleagues' calendars. Pretty cool.

    • Avatar


      In reply to jbuccola:

      I'd like to know that, as I have a lot of Reward points saved up. I have a feeling though to get the lifetime discount, they want you to open the premium account with cash money instead of points.

    • Avatar


      In reply to jbuccola:

      Do you see Outlook Premium under you MS account subscriptions list?  I also had(have) the Ad-free Outlook add on (actually still called "Windows Live Hotmail Plus" on mine, since I've had it that long!), and I do not see any entry for Outlook Premium itself.  My situation may be further complicated since I've had Outlook Premium since the private preview.  I want to cancel the Ad-free sub, but am a bit worried it may somehow now be tied into my Premium sub.   

    • Avatar


      In reply to jbuccola:

      Do you see Outlook Premium under you MS account subscriptions list? I also had(have) the Ad-free Outlook add on (actually still called "Windows Live Hotmail Plus" on mine, since I've had it that long!), and I do not see any entry for Outlook Premium itself. My situation may be further complicated since I've had Outlook Premium since the private preview. I want to cancel the Ad-free sub, but am a bit worried it may somehow now be tied into my Premium sub.  

  27. Avatar


    Paul, is the alias thing only true for the first account or can I switch my whole family from outlook.com accounts to the custom domain? The latter would definitely make sense.

  28. Avatar


    One additional gotcha (I beta tested Outlook.com Premium for the last 9 months and deployed several). Make sure a recovery address in your Microsoft account is NOT of the same domain as the custom domain you want to bring to the party. Ran into that on a Premium deployment that hung it up for a few days. Seems the service can't provision the tenant if a recovery address in an associated Microsoft account matches said custom domain. Other than that it works quite well!

  29. Avatar


    Does anyone know if you can link additional accounts to existing outlook.com email accounts? 


    Or what happens if you try and move from the old custom domain feature to this new one?


  30. Avatar


    Does anybody know if Outlook.com Premium will work with "dot name" domains, i.e. [email protected]?  "Dot name" is a third-level domain with inbound e-mail forwarding through Verisign.  The challenge is being able to send e-mails from [email protected] without the dreaded "On behalf of...."

  31. Avatar


    Real talk. Does the spam filtering suck as hard as it does on free Outlook.com? 

  32. Avatar


    "What is clear is that this system has both pros and cons. But the biggest pro is that everything you’ve purchased/subscribed to through that initial Microsoft account will now work with your new custom domain. This is important. If you subscribed to Office 365 Home, for example, it will work. If you purchased apps or games on Xbox or Windows 10, you will be able to sign in with that new account, with its custom domain, and it will work. Again, because that account and your Microsoft account are the same account."

    Are these subscriptions accessible to the other accounts on your domain?  For example, if I have a Groove Music Pass associated with my account, can my wife and kids access that subscription as well from their accounts through Outlook.com Premium?

    • Avatar


      In reply to Uncommontater:

      No it does nothing for sharing Groove (or other services you have).  The only thing I've seen it do as far as sharing between accounts is it automatically sets a sharing relationship on your calendar, but it's just using the already existing method for that.  

  33. Avatar



    There being some issues with using connected accounts (send only) with outlook.com and Outlook2016.

    How does outlook.com Premium work with outlook2016?

    Can you use connect to outook.com via outlook2016 and send email with your [email protected] ?

    I have searched Microsofts website anf I cant find ANY information how and if utlook.com Premium work with outlook2016.



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