Report: Project Monarch Was Delayed, Now Expected This Spring

Posted on January 24, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in, Microsoft 365, Office 365, Microsoft, Office, Windows 11 with 46 Comments

The inimitable Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft’s “Project Monarch,” sometimes called “One Outlook,” is still on the way after months and months of delays. As good, Ms. Foley has revealed the final name of this project too.

As you may recall, Project Monarch was first revealed just about one year ago, and its purpose is to unify Microsoft’s many Outlook-branded products and services using a single codebase. Project Monarch was originally supposed to ship sometime in 2021, and one imagines that Microsoft would have liked to have included in Windows 11 the light desktop variant of it as a replacement for the mostly terrible Mail, People, and Calendar apps it’s been abusing customers with for years.

Obviously, the Project Monarch schedule has slipped, as we’re in 2022 now. But it’s still coming, Foley says, and is now expected “this spring” after months of internal testing. It will be branded as—wait for it—Outlook when completed, because of course it will. And there will be different versions for the Windows desktop (which she describes as Win32/UWP, with both x86/x64 and ARM-compatible versions), the web, and on macOS. It will apparently resemble (and the nearly identical Outlook on the web) very closely.

“Microsoft has been testing Monarch/One Outlook for several months internally with increasingly large rings of employees,” Foley explains. “My sources say the company is planning to make an official announcement about One Outlook this spring. Microsoft could be ready to get a test version of the new Outlook to Windows Insiders in the Dev and Beta channels by late March or early April 2022, my contacts say. By late July or August this year, Microsoft is hoping to be able to get it to Insiders in the Slow Channel, though this target date could slip until the fall, my contacts said.”

One bit of bad news: while this new Outlook will eventually replace the Mail, People, and Calendar apps in Windows 10/11, that version will ship later than the standard desktop version. But Foley says that the new Outlook will likely be included in the first Windows 11 feature update in late 2022 alongside the existing apps. It’s not clear yet when or if Microsoft will require Windows users to go with the new Outlook and remove the older apps, Foley says.

Also unclear is when or if the new Outlook will replace the classic desktop version of Outlook that’s part of modern Office versions and Microsoft 365, and dates back to 1997. Foley says only that Microsoft didn’t originally intend to make this change until a “much later date.” She’s not sure if that thinking has changed.

Microsoft has no comment on these plans.

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Comments (46)

46 responses to “Report: Project Monarch Was Delayed, Now Expected This Spring”

  1. bschnatt

    You're both inimitable. You should change the name of the show from Windows Weekly to Inimitable Instance ;)

    • bschnatt

      Hmm, maybe Inimitable Incident. Iota? Iteration? Never mind, I'll come up with something better ;)

  2. will

    The web version does has all of the latest “stuff”, so I am guessing this will be a wrapper like Teams is?

    Microsoft is just now making the New Outlook the default for macOS and the Windows app received a minor UI update. Curious if those would be deprecated and features would focus to the new version?

    • matsan

      Unfortunately the "New Outlook" doesn't work well with Amazon WorkMail and I am glad there is (still) a way to disable it on macOS. When that switch goes away we'll be stuck with Amazon's mediocre webmail. Sigh.

      • Donte

        Never heard of "Amazon WorkMail" had to look that up. I am betting Microsoft really does not care of Amazon WorkMail works with Outlook. Just a guess.

    • Donte

      I have nothing against the full versions of Outlook. That said I primarily (98% of the time) use webmail both for my work email (o365) and personal at Outlook dot com.

      Microsoft's webmail is really good. I get lots of email alerts for various systems and services that go to folders. Emptying one of those folders when they get crazy full is so much better in syncing those changes up and down. Also searching is way faster.

  3. truerock2

    I have 5 outlook accounts, 7 Gmail accounts, 2 yahoo accounts and 7 other email accounts.

    I own 3 small businesses, sit on 2 different city councils, operate a family farm business, operate a church group function, etc.

    Outlook on the web would be a joke for my requirements.

    Formerly, I also operated several corporate email accounts at a large multi-national corporation. Also, a situation in which Outlook on the web would have been laughable.

    Outlook on the web is good for people that have 1 email account and no special processing requirements. It's perfect for my 97-year-old grandfather.

    • rob_segal

      There are far more people that only need a modern, simple, elegant email and calendar solution than those who have 19 email accounts. Desktop Outlook on Windows is too clunky for me. Outlook on the Web is great for me, as well as Mac apps like Spark that I hope will actually show up on Windows.

      • wright_is

        It depends on what you are doing. In most companies I've worked at, users have their personal email addresses and their departmental addresses linked, so they add their personal account and Outlook automatically pulls in the linked departmental address(es).

        That doesn't work on the web version, they need to log in separately to each account - which, because of the way Exchange works, the users never have the usernames or passwords to those accounts. It makes it simple when a user moves to a new department, the old departmental address authority is removed and the new department's added and they automatically see the new mailboxes, they don't even have to log out and log back in, they just change.

      • truerock2


        You are correct. The majority of Americans probably have 1 or 2 email accounts.

        But - for example - if you have kids in youth activities you may have hundreds of emails to keep up with just for those activities... and, if you are a coach or an adult-leader you are going to get swamped. The important take-away is the email addresses you use for those activities have got to be burner-email-addresses. The first thing you learn is to never, never give out your personal email address to your daughter's soccer league.

        And there are other things you need to keep separate from your personal email... volunteer activities. My daughter is volunteering for ASPCA as a scout related activity... OMG... her email address is gone and she'll have to burn it.

        One thing I do is keep an email address that is just for banking, financial, insurance, medical and government. It is a Microsoft outlook account. I get no spam at that email address and every email I do get at that address is at least important enough to note the subject line and sender.

        • rob_segal

          A modern version of Outlook can be built to handle multiple accounts. Apps like Spark can. I don't want to keep comparing the current version of Outlook to email and calendar apps on macOS, but I have to because there isn't one on Windows I can compare it to. A web app shouldn't be the best modern email and calendar app available, but sadly, on Windows, that is the case.

    • wright_is

      I think (or rather hope) you are conflating the look-and-feel with the functionality.

      To castrate Outlook to not allowing multiple email accounts would alienate most corporate customers - most of our users have 2 or 3 accounts, at least, in their Outlook - usually their personal account + the departmental account(s), E.g. named account, plus Purchasing, plus Technical Purchasing, or named account, plus logistics, plus production. Those additional accounts aren't set up extra, they are Exchange accounts where the user has "full access" to the account, so they just automatically appear in the list next to their personal account.

      I'm guessing that the new Outlook will also drop support for older Exchange protocols, forcing some customers to stay on old Outlook. Each successive version of Outlook seems to break some backward compatibility. The above mentioned linked accounts are gradually not working for some of our users, it is officially deprecated, but full compatibility with Exchange 2012 is gradually eroding, but not consistently, things work for some users, but not others, in some cases, Search stops working or doesn't return matches against numbers - annoying for our sales team that spend all day searching on order numbers!

      If the new Outlook isn't feature equivalent to the Windows desktop version, it will never replace it, because so many people rely on it and its feature set for their workflows.

      • Bart

        Maybe, the idea isn't to replace the Microsoft 365 version, but rather every other mail-client?

        • wright_is

          From Paul's article, it sounds like it already/will shortly replace the macOS Outlook 365 and it will replace Outlook 365 on Windows some time in the future.

      • Donte

        "To castrate Outlook to not allowing multiple email accounts would alienate most corporate customers - most of our users have 2 or 3 accounts, at least, in their Outlook"

        Huh...what the what? I got 6000+ users that have ONE account, their work account and they can't add another one.

        Outside of IT users this has never been allowed at any place I have worked. I am talking large companies, like Wells Fargo with 300k employees when I worked there. It's a crazy avenue to possible malware, when you let users get to personal email at work.

        • wright_is

          The users can’t add their own accounts, they have their user account and the departmental account(s), like purchasing, sales etc.

          All out going email an external customers, suppliers etc. have to go over the departmental account, so that it doesn’t matter if someone is ill or on leave, nothing is missed, no customers complaining that their orders haven’t been processed etc.

  4. Davor Radman

    I hope they don't ruin outlook further. Each new update so far has been worse then the last one, and somehow they keep skipping to fix previous issues in UX.

    I still can't search contacts by name, multiple calendars work pretty bad, search is atrocious and even worse then it was in the previous version I have, and even threading is not yet perfected. I just don't understand, like they don't have QA at all.

  5. SvenJ

    Not sure I get the end game. Is one Outlook going to be the same, look the same, have all the same features, whether it is desktop client, web client, iOS, Android? If so, I expect we are going to be losing a whole lot of functionality. If not, is it really one Outlook? If this is to replace Mail, Calendar, Contacts (which I have no problem with) is it going to be free for everyone, like OneNote? Mail, Calendar, Contacts comes with the OS right now. Outlook comes with O365, for a fee. Would a free version be only iOS, Android and Web for Windows? If you want a desktop mail client, you'll have to buy it, or use something other than Outlook?

    • mattbg

      IMO, it's going to be a set of core functionality that will eventually (through iterative releases) support everything needed on the client side to fully work with cloud-based Exchange Online service (not stuff that only works with on-prem Exchange).

      The rest will be declared legacy, deprecated, and never moved over but the classic Outlook client will stick around until some communicated date off in the future that gives enough time for people using that functionality to move away, and then it won't matter to the vast majority of users and they can discontinue the current client.

      Just a guess, of course... but why would they waste resources putting the legacy stuff on all platforms?

  6. bluvg

    It will be a very, very long road to replace the traditional Outlook client. So many companies have built products on top of it (like an OS to itself), it will take a long time to unwind that mess.

    "Modern add-ins" are great in principle but do not scale (how 'x panes' can you have at a time?), and they can't act on multiple items at a time. These are severe limitations.

    • wright_is

      Not just add-on products, but the workflows themselves, if the new version does things differently, misses functionality or doesn't display things the same way, many users will have hissy fits and start calling the IT support incompetent, because they "can't do their job" any more, now that the new version has replaced the old version.

      It was bad about 18 months ago, Microsoft removed the search bar from the top of the list view and placed it in the window title bar. We had dozens of calls from users claiming that Outlook was broken and that they could no longer search!

      Simply moving things doesn't help, users "know" where things are and even if they are still "visible", they won't find them, because they aren't where they have been for the last umpteen years...

      It is like coming home and finding your partner has re-arranged all the cupboards, you can't find anything any more.

      • mattbg

        Regarding the people that will throw fits from not being able to do their jobs because of removed Outlook functionality, aren't most of those people on their way out either by automation or retirement at this point?

        It's almost guaranteed that if you just wait 10 years to fully discontinue the desktop Outlook client, that the vast majority of people that care will be out of the picture through attrition.

        I'm not saying that there won't be any left, but I'd be surprised if there were enough left to matter.

        • wright_is

          Not really, most of our sales department is under 35, so not near retirement and no way to really automate them out of a job - we are B2B and every order is a special order, the products are customer specific (macro-mollecular chemistry).

      • ekim

        This really has me uneasy. I've been using desktop Outlook since before it was called Outlook (the Exchange email client NT4/95). Outlook is indispensable in my workflow. I've created dozens of inbox rules over the years as well as custom plugins. 2 of my line of biz in house apps integrate with Outlook. It's literally like having a full-time office admin. Microsoft sadly has a really bad habit of screwing up on their "revolutions". Windows 8 start screen for example. Or the aggressive way to took Windows Media Center away. I hope they provide a way to carry forward this kind of functionality or I'm screwed if they make this switch mandatory and not something I can try in parallel with the existing product.

  7. blue77star

    Like anyone will use this

    • rob_segal

      The web version of Outlook is really good. It's a great foundation to use to build a new, modern version of Outlook. People will use it. Readdle hasn't released Spark for Windows yet, so there is a strong chance that this app will be the best consumer email and calendar app on Windows when it's available.

  8. blue77star

    I use Thunderbird, it owns all MS mail clients together.

    • jgraebner

      Thunderbird? Are you using a time machine to post replies from the early 2000s?

      • wpcoe

        Hey, I resemble that remark. ? I use Thunderbird and like it. It's very "analog-ish" but I like that, being the old curmudgeon that I am.

      • truerock2

        Mozzila Thunderbird is probably one of the best email products currently available.

        I think if you googled best email client... Thunderbird would normally be considered better than Outlook?

        I use Outlook because people I work with use Outlook.

        I'm not sure how active Thunderbird development is. But, really... what could you do to something like Thunderbird to make it better? I think email client requirements were pretty much perfected by around 2012. It's not like someone is going to suddenly invent a better email client.

        Of course, it does seem weird that Microsoft spends hundreds of millions of dollars making bad email clients.

  9. mattbg

    I am really looking forward to this. For whatever reason, I still like and prefer the Office-derived Outlook as my e-mail and calendar client and still use it instead of any web-based interfaces. They have been updating the UI to make it more modern-looking, but it's silly that there's still no unified inbox.

    I'm skeptical that Microsoft will have the focus to fully transition all of the current desktop Outlook functionality to the new app, or even whether they plan to do that at all (and don't fully understand why they would spend resources on that, to be honest).

    I wonder if it's possible that we'll see "One Outlook" be the first choice or default for the majority of people that don't need all the capability of full Outlook, with full Outlook kept around for those people that need it... until the vast majority don't need it anymore, by which time hopefully they are close enough in feature parity that the decision will work for most people. That would fit with the "much later date" goal of replacing Outlook in Office with "One Outlook" - they may not know when that date will be.

    That would be similar to what their aborted "Modern OneNote" strategy looked like at one time, and it did make sense at the time.

  10. bschnatt

    Really wish they would come up with better names. You know, to differentiate versions? It must be maddening to talk about product development in their meetings...

    • rob_segal

      Slowly, Outlook on Windows is becoming the outlier. Outlook on the web, Mac, IOS, and Android are modern. It's Outlook on Windows that looks dated and old. If I was the person making the branding decision here, I would rebrand the current version of Outlook on Windows to something like Outlook Classic. I wouldn't spend time or effort updating that app anymore unless it was absolutely necessary.

      • brothernod

        Outlook on IOS is rapidly growing outdated since they purchased Sunrise, and it sounds like this isn't touching the phones yet, which is a shame.

      • wright_is

        But it is Outlook on Windows that "works", i.e. has all the features our users need. The web version is very limited, the iOS and Android versions functionally castrated and macOS has always been an outlier.

        I'd like a modern, lighter, faster version of Outlook, but as long as our users use features that have been removed, that isn't going to happen.

        • rob_segal

          This is why I favor keeping the existing version of Outlook and rebranding it. It's not usable for some people who prefer a simple, modern email and calendar experience. When I compare it to email apps like Spark and Outlook on the web, it's just clunky, cluttered, and unnecessarily complex for consumers. Windows lacks a modern and simple email and calendar app. This new app fills that desperate need.

      • Donte

        Outlook, the new look at feel on my Mac, is the "Fortnite" version of Outlook. It looks like a childs application.

        I would agree that Outlook on Windows has been slow to adopt new UI changes but hands down it runs better than any other Outlook client on any platform. Not counting webmail.

        • rob_segal

          Modernizing Outlook on Windows isn't worth the time or effort. It would have to be overhauled to the point of rewriting most if not all of it. For those people looking for a modern email and calendar app, Outlook on Windows is the furthest thing from that. The latest Outlook on Mac fits what a modern email and calendar should be. Outlook for the web is a very good foundation to build a new, modern app.

  11. Sir_Timbit

    Yes, hopefully they will include this in Windows 11 and dump the awful Mail app. An Outlook app, but a lite version. Or an Express version of Outlook, if you will. ;-)

    • Donte

      I just tried the Windows 11 mail, having not touched the Windows 10 version for many years now. Exactly the same as far as I can tell....totally horrible.

      • rob_segal

        The current mail and calendar app should have been the simple, modern apps consumers need, but Microsoft never fixed its issues. Apart from a few new features, Microsoft appeared to abandon them. At one time, they had potential. I wish Microsoft would just replace them on day one instead of offering the new Outlook alongside those apps, but I can uninstall them.

  12. red.radar

    This is such a difficult task for them to try and modernize such an entrenched application. There will be complaints. I just hope they can filter the complaints from the feedback that provides value.

    This way it doesn't turn into a strategic reversal like OneNote.

    • rob_segal

      This is why I would rebrand the current version of Outlook and limit the updates it receives when the new one is available. Those who need every feature and option that app provides, they can use it. Those who want or need a simpler, modern email and calendar app can use the new Outlook. Outlook becomes the modern version of the app across all platforms and a name like Outlook Classic refers to the old app on Windows. That's the approach I would take if the choice was mine.

  13. waethorn

    I hate email. It's insecure with insignificant security bandaids added to it that still don't properly secure it. You can't encrypt it easily. You can't host it yourself easily, given the security and setup issues with it.

    I can't understand out why some enterprising tech company hasn't figured out how to unify email message conversations as feeds into a chat application. Chat web apps can be self-hosted easily, can be encrypted easily, are easier to manage.... there are some developers working on email to chat bridges for Matrix that I've been looking at, but they're still immature. Users that use the chat application directly would benefit from full E2EE while legacy senders could still get their messages received by the chat host.