Sadly gmail has eaten most of the email providers - it really is the cheapest (for its features), most robust and most secure available. There’s other privacy-conscious ones like protonmail, tutanota, mailfence etc. around that might suit but are also sadly co-opted by abusive groups and individuals which gives some of those a bad reputation on some networks.
Microsoft is a decent choice and it pains me to say this, but they have less of an interest (and less reliance on it as a business model) in monetizing your inbox than Google. And their security is also decent. I’d usually point people at Microsoft as a gmail alternative. Or iCloud, if they’re Apple users.
Yahoo security is terrible. It’s really not worthy as a primary email provider.
The other “free” mail providers have a precarious existence and are not well incentivized or resourced to handle security and privacy well, so what’s the alternative? Basically it amounts to paying someone rather than relying on free. Healthy business models allow for the possibility for healthy privacy expectations (but do not force it).
Many domain registrars do email hosting as well, as a turn-key service. I’m a fan of gandi.net as a registrar, I’d probably consider them for hosting my email if I wanted to properly avoid gmail.