Microsoft adds Outlook.com to service-subscription list with $50/year Premium option

Microsoft today officially launched a premium-grade Outlook.com email service in the U.S. that omits ads, provides five inboxes and supports personalized addresses.

The service, labeled "Outlook.com Premium," had been branded "Preview" until today, according to the Thurrott.com blog, which had been tracking its progress for almost a year.

Outlook.com Premium appeared to target both small businesses and families with the five user accounts and the personalized address. The domain name for the latter will be free for the first year, Microsoft said, and those who already own a domain could use it with the email service free of charge.

As with the consumer-oriented "Ad-free Outlook.com," a $20 per year deal that scrubs advertisements from the service, Outlook.com Premium also erases ads from the five inboxes.

According to the small print on the Premium website, 12 months of the service will cost $20 until the end of March, at which time it will climb to $50, its regular price.

Renewals for those who get in under the discount wire will run up to $30 -- $20 for the Outlook.com service, $10 for the domain name, if there is one -- apparently until Microsoft decides to raise the price. "You will be notified if the price changes," the website said.

Microsoft has aggressively promoted subscriptions for several years, but with the launch of Windows 10 -- and that operating system's "software-as-a-service" model -- the company accelerated efforts with new enterprise-grade subscriptions to Windows as well as programs targeting consumers, such as the Groove music streaming service and now Outlook.com Premium.

The firm has made no secret of the subscription campaigns' goals. In July, CEO Satya Nadella told Wall Street that Microsoft would use three ways to track progress of its operating system business. The second of the trio, Nadella said, was to "grow new monetization through services across our unified Windows platform."

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