Microsoft today announced a massive Outlook.com update with improvements to the Inbox, new collaboration features, and a revamped calendar. The update is rolling out today but only in preview “to a small group of customers.”
The new update is part of Microsoft’s upgrade of Outlook.com to a new Office 365-based infrastructure. Outlook.com users will be able to get these new features “in the coming weeks” as part of an opt-in program, but the company didn’t share when it will flip the switch for everyone.
The video doesn’t include everything that’s new, so here’s the rundown:
- Clutter — This Outlook smart filter sorts messages you’re likely to ignore into a separate folder, so you can focus on what matters. The more you use Outlook.com, the better Clutter gets. You can help train Clutter by dragging messages in or out of the Clutter folder and you can turn it on or off depending on your preferences. It’s no longer just for Office 365 customers.
- Search Suggestions and Refiners — Suggestions put the people you communicate with and the content in your mailbox at your fingertips when searching for content. Refiners let you pivot your search results based on the sender, folder, date received and attachments. Highlighting has also been added to make it easy to spot your search terms within the results.
- New themes — 13 new themes with graphic designs.
- Link preview — Just paste a link into your message and Outlook.com automatically generates a rich preview to give your recipients a peek into the contents of the destination. It works great with any webpage, but video links from Vimeo and YouTube are best.
- Inline images — Copy and paste images directly into the body of your message, right where you want them.
- Pop-out read and compose — Multi-tasking is easy with messages that pop out into new windows.
- Pins and Flags — Keep essential emails at the top of your inbox with Pins and mark others for follow-up with Flags. Pins are now folder specific, great for anyone who uses folders to organize their email. Quickly find and manage your flagged items with inbox filters or the new Task module, accessible from the app launcher.
- Add-ins — In addition to the Bing Maps, My Templates and Suggested Meetings add-ins that are built-into Outlook.com, third-party add-ins are coming from Uber, Boomerang, PayPal, and more.
- New Skype experience — Seamlessly shift conversations between email and Skype. Chat with a group, or one-on-one, using all your favorite Skype emoticons. Start a voice or video call by pressing the call button.
- Simplified sharing from OneDrive — Now it’s easy to upload a file and set permissions; just attach the file to your draft message (drag and drop or with the file picker) and with one click you can convert it to a shared OneDrive link.
- Side-by-side views — Open an attachment and see it side-by-side with the email. You can view or edit Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents, or even photos, while simultaneously replying to the original message. Best of all, any changes you make to the file are automatically saved and attached to your response when you hit send — no need to download, edit, save and re-attach the revised file.
- Outlook.com calendar — new features and improved navigation let you manage shared calendars, quickly find events (by searching for the name, invitees, location or description), and stay on top of the dates that matter to you with over 100 country and religious calendars.
- Outlook.com mobile — If your prefer to use a mobile browser (instead of the Windows, iOS, and Android apps), you can expect a cleaner experience with new features like swipe gestures and support for add-ins, plus mobile-friendly views for your calendar and contacts.
Yes, this is a huge update, and it almost makes us feel like Microsoft would have been better off to release a few features on a monthly basis, rather than all at once like this. Nevertheless, the company today also launched Outlook UserVoice — once you digest everything that’s new, you can use the open forum to share feedback, recommend features, and vote for the ideas you like best.