Proton Mail desktop app officially launches, but remains for premium subscribers only

Proton Mail, the end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) email service from Swiss company Proton, is now officially available via a dedicated desktop app some three months after debuting in beta.

However, despite previous claims that the client would be available to all Proton Mail users in early 2024, the company has decided to restrict it to paying users.

“After a highly positive response during the beta phase, we’ve decided to keep the desktop app exclusive to premium subscribers to ensure the best service quality, given the significant infrastructure and maintenance demands,” a spokesperson explained to TechCrunch.

Proton Mail desktop app

Proton Mail desktop app. Image Credits: Proton

In related news, Proton is also making its email service available via a standalone Linux desktop app, launching today in beta.

It’s worth noting that while Proton Mail has been available to desktop users from the company’s inception, initially through the browser and more recently a “bridge” which opened up access to Proton Mail through third-party desktop clients such as Apple Mail and Outlook, today’s news brings a dedicated Windows and MacOS app to the fray. This means that emails can be cached and accessed when offline, while users can funnel into Proton Mail directly from the MacOS dock or Windows Start menu.

Moreover, the new app also bundles access to Proton’s encrypted Calendar service.

Proton Mail for Desktop with Calendar

Proton Mail for Desktop with Calendar. Image Credits: Proton

Show me the money

From Proton’s perspective, keeping the Proton Mail desktop app back behind a paywall could be a good way to incentivize premium signups, as it is the kind of product that many people value in their day-to-day lives and would be willing to pay for.

However, the company previously said that the client would “gradually be made available to all users, including free,” and it’s this backtrack that may cause a little consternation in its community.

Instead, everyone will be able to try the app out as part of a 14-day free trial, after which they will have to sign up to one of the company’s premium plans that costs between €8 and €13 per month, depending on how long they’re willing to commit to. These plans also unlock all the restrictions on Proton’s other products, which include cloud storage, a VPN and password management.

However, there is also a separate “Mail Plus” plan that starts at €3.49 per month designed for email and VPN users only, and this will also give access to the desktop app.

That’s not to say that Proton isn’t open to changing its mind, depending on the “feedback” it receives in the wake of today’s announcement.

“We remain open to broadening access in the future, though we do not have any specific plans to do so in the short term,” the Proton spokesperson said. “We’re committed to continuously evaluating our offerings based on our users’ feedback and needs.”

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