Microsoft is now testing a paid subscription version of its email service known as Outlook Premium, spotted today by thurrot.
The service will give customers a “distraction-free” inbox that does not display any of the banner ads that some users find intrusive. In addition, subscribers can get a custom email domain instead of the typical outlook.com address. They can then add as many as five personalized email addresses to the domain for family members, coworkers, or whatever purpose they see fit.
Users will also be able to share their calendars, documents and contacts more easily thanks to automatically configured sharing relationships between all of the parties that have email addresses on their particular domain.
Domains come from partnership with GoDaddy
Microsoft is partnering with GoDaddy to help Premium subscribers obtain the domain they wish to use, which will also be free during their first year. After that time, they will need to renew it with GoDaddy or transfer it to the provider of their choice.
Users will be able to check for desired domain names during the signup process, and similar ones will be proposed if an exact match is not available.
Those who already subscribe to Office365 will be able to use the service for free; it will cost $3.99 per month for everyone else. However, those taking part in the pilot program will be allowed to use it for free for the first year.
The trial is currently only available by invitation, and those who are interested in participating can request an invite.
The company was pretty tight-lipped when asked to comment on the program. They released a statement that said: “Outlook.com Premium is currently a small pilot program. We’re always investigating new features based on the wants and needs of our customers, and we have nothing more to share at this time.
It appears that Microsoft is trying to expand its monetization of Outlook beyond advertising by offering this premium service. While the price point could eventually change after the testing phase, it is pretty likely the subscription fee will remain in place.
In February, Microsoft launched its revamped Outlook.com, which has a host of new features including the Giphy add-in.
The firm already offers an ad-free version of email for $19.95 a year, so the personalized emails are what seem to set Premium apart. This feature was offered when Outlook.com debuted in 2012, but custom domain support was dropped in 2014. Meanwhile, the business version of Google’s Gmail charges a monthly fee of $5 per person for custom domains.