While the default Outlook.com experience is probably fine for most, you can actually remove the sidebar advertisements in Mail by signing up for Hotmail Plus. This paid service still works with Outlook.com, and while it’s a bit steep at $19.95 a year, it also helps the new Microsoft webmail service achieve a more professional, app-like look and feel.

You can find out more about Hotmail Plus on the Microsoft web site. If you are already paying for Hotmail Plus, it will continue to offer its ad-removing functionality if you use the Outlook.com user experience.

To understand the difference, consider the default Outlook.com look and feel. You’ll see a rightmost pane that displays ads in many cases. And while these ads are textual and not as annoying as the ads in Hotmail—Microsoft says that your email is private and thus it does not read that email, like some other services, cough, Gmail, do—they’re still there.

ads

Sign up for Hotmail Plus, however, and the ads disappear.

What you see instead will depend on the source of the selected email. For emails from newsletters or unknown people, you’ll just see a generic search link.

search

But for emails from those people in your People-based contacts list, you’ll see contextual information, including such things as Facebook posts.

contact

Is it worth it? Maybe not. Some of the rationale for Hotmail Plus, like more storage, is no longer an issue. But if you’re looking for an app-like experience, you should at least know your options. And a Plus account can help.

(I do pay for Hotmail Plus on my primary personal account.)