The hidden traps in Outlook.com Premium

The cheap, introductory pricing for Outlook.com Premium is now available until 30 June at us$19.99 instead of $49.99 but there’s some hidden ‘gotchas’ in Microsoft’s offer.

The discount offer was to expire at the end of March but has been extended. Officially it’s because Outlook.com has been ‘so popular’ but it’s more likely that Microsoft realizes that the $50 per year price is too high.

The Premium edition is available in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, United Kingdom and USA.

For the money, you get surprisingly few extras over the standard Outlook.com free service:

  • Personal domain name for email instead of @outlook.com address.
    • The domain costs an extra $10 per year after the first year.
    • Up to four people can use the same domain name for their Outlook.com Premium accounts.
    • A limited number of email aliases (alternative addresses) per custom domain.
  • No ads in the ‘webmail’ or browser based interface to Outlook.com

Custom Domain Trap

The Outlook.com Premium price is misleading because the advertised price doesn’t include the necessary domain registration cost and buying the custom domain isn’t done the usual way.

You either pay $10 to Microsoft or pay separately to another domain registrar.  The latter option is a little more expensive but much better overall.

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We’ve suggested for many years having a custom domain name for your email. It gives you a permanent email address but with the flexibility to switch email hosts at any time.

The low $10 a year price for a custom domain comes with a hidden catch.

Microsoft owns the ‘custom domain’ you choose with Outlook.com Premium. You cannot move away from Outlook.com Premium and keep the personal domain name.  You lose one of the major advantages of having a custom domain in the first place.

We strongly recommend registering your own domain separately. That gives you the control over the settings.  Outlook.com Premium and Office 365 email hosting will guide you through the domain mail settings (MX records and SPF) necessary.

The Real Cost

At $30 per year (with the extra $10 for the limited personal domain), Outlook.com Premium can be good value.  You get a good quality email, calendar, contacts service that will connect with any device out there (you don’t need the Outlook apps for Apple / Android).

But the standard annual price is $60 a year (including limited domain registration) might be too much for the little extra you get in the Premium service.

As always, we are wary of low price introductory offers.  It’s important to consider the real annual price.  Keep in mind that the company can change the price and the services offered with little or no notice – Microsoft has done that for Office 365 customers in the past and probably will again when it suits the company.