In this Outlook (opens in new tab) review, we take a look at some of the pros and cons of this well-established email client. Although Outlook can be obtained as a free, standalone platform, we’ll be taking a deep dive into some of the extra features and services you get when you purchase Outlook as part of your Microsoft 365 (opens in new tab) subscription, to see if it ranks as one of the best email providers available.
Premium Outlook includes massive mailbox and OneDrive storage limits, enhanced security features, and more. Read on to learn whether upgrading to premium is the right decision for you, or whether sticking with the free option will cater to your needs.
Plans and pricing
You can get Outlook for free, but you’re limited to just 5GB cloud storage on OneDrive, 15GB mailbox storage, no encryption, and - importantly for business users - no option to create a custom domain name.
All Microsoft 365 subscriptions include an advanced version of Outlook called Premium Outlook. This version of the platform comes with superior features and increased allowances including: 50GB mailbox storage; premium support; web, Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac apps; 1TB of OneDrive storage; OneDrive ransomware protection; zero ads; custom domains; and advanced security measures.
There are a wide range of Microsoft 365 plans (opens in new tab) to suit different requirements. Personal plans cost $69.99 per year, and the Family plan costs $99.99 per year, while Business plans range from $5.00 per user per month to $20 per user per month.
Premium Outlook includes all of the standard features you get with the free version plus some added extras. We’ll run through both types below.
Like the free version, Premium Outlook includes a calendar function that enables you to plan and track events and appointments. Within the calendar notes you can add location, time, and date, as well as set alert reminders. There is also a handy to-do list tool, OneNote integration, and an interesting feature called Your Family that enables you to create group emails that go to a shared inbox.
The standard Outlook client only provides 15GB of mailbox storage. With the Premium version, this limit increases to 50GB, and cloud storage limits on Microsoft’s OneDrive increase from 5GB to 1TB. This is a major jump, and could be a deciding factor if you want to use the platform as your primary email client.
Both Skype and Microsoft Teams are integrated into the Outlook interface. This means you can start a call or jump into a meeting with a single click. As a paying customer, you receive 60 minutes call credit to use on Skype per month.
It might not be a function that benefits your workflow, but paying for Premium Outlook eliminates ads from your email client. This is an added extra that cleans up the interface and makes using the email client more enjoyable.
With Microsoft 365 you can use a custom domain name and create a personalized email address. The email client is integrated with GoDaddy (opens in new tab) domains, so getting set up is relatively straightforward.
Interface and in use
Getting started with Premium Outlook is quick and easy. As soon as you pay for your Microsoft 365 subscription, you can navigate to Outlook and create an email address and password.
The Outlook interface itself is clean and easy to operate. Icons are clear and simple to decipher. On the top bar, you’ll find all the communication tools, including one-click access to Microsoft Teams, as well as core settings and a button that opens a quick view of your calendar.
Emails are split into either focused or other categories. Cleverly, the focused email folder contains messages you’re probably more likely to need, while the other category contains the rest, mainly alerts and promotional emails.
Alternative icons, including the main calendar button and the to-do list, are located to the left of the screen alongside your standard email folders, such as inbox, deleted items, and drafts.
Premium Outlook includes advanced support facilities. This means you can contact a Microsoft agent via phone or chat at any time on any day if you run into difficulties. On top of this, you can access support via the dedicated support site, email, or Microsoft’s social media channels.
The advanced security features you get with a paid-for version of Outlook really separate it from the free service. Although some security features do come as standard with the email client, they are far from comprehensive.
Crucial security features including spam and anti-malware are available with both free and premium versions of the app, but Premium also includes ransomware protection for OneDrive, mailbox encryption, auto-blocking of unsafe links, and scanning and removal of malicious attachments.
Gmail (opens in new tab) is probably Outlook’s biggest competitor. It too includes a free and paid for service. Users must sign up to Google Workspace (opens in new tab), formerly G Suite, to access the premium features, which include a custom email, and interestingly, unlimited group emails, but only 30GB of cloud storage, compared to 1TB with Outlook. Pricewise there is very little in it. Google Workspace starts at $6 per user per month, and you can read our Gmail review for more information.
ProtonMail (opens in new tab) is a leader in secure email correspondence, and an interesting comparison point to Outlook, as the core benefits of the Microsoft 365 offering surround security. Although ProtonMail offers highly advanced security features, such as end-to-end encryption and data protection ratified by the Swiss government, its storage limits are tiny, with just 5GB of mailbox storage on its most basic paid plan. Read our ProtonMail review to find out more about this platform.
Microsoft 365 provides great security features and huge storage limits. Access to OneDrive is a real bonus too.
Personal users who simply require a standard email client might not see these extra storage benefits as justifying a Microsoft 365 subscription, although the other apps and features you get could be more appealing. Still, advanced security measures and massive storage facilities are great for businesses, which is why we were a little surprised to find there were no separate storage options included in the business price plans to reflect the needs of different users.
For example, a sliding scale in terms of OneDrive storage - instead of the jump from 5GB to 1TB - that was reflected in the price of the service would have been a good addition. That said, Outlook is a very well-organized and established email client, and it certainly stands up to the competition.