As you may have heard, Microsoft is finally nearing the completion of its migration to the new Outlook.com, which brings the look and feel and some of the functionality of the commercial Office 365 offerings to consumers. Here’s a quick look at some of the key changes.
We begin, naturally enough, with the overall look and feel of the Outlook.com web experience. Depending on your experience with this service, the changes may seem a bit subtle, but those who are familiar with Office 365 will immediately recognize the new user interface as being nearly identical to Outlook on the web in Office 365.
Here’s the old Outlook.com.
And the new.
And here’s Office 365’s Outlook on the web for comparison. As you can see, the new Outlook.com more closely resembles this service than the old Outlook.com.
(The Outlook.com Calendar has likewise changed to a look and feel that more closely resembles Office 365’s calendar. You get the idea.)
The changes to Outlook.com of course go deeper than just how it looks on the web. Here are some of the functional changes that will impact your day-to-day use.
Clutter. The new Outlook.com picks up the Clutter feature from Office 365, which helps separate out low-priority email so it’s not bogging down your inbox. (This works somewhat like the Focused Inbox feature in Outlook for Android and iPhone, if you’re familiar with that app.) It’s something that improves over time, because it learns from your email habits, and you can help speed the process my manually moving emails in and out of the Clutter folder. And yes, you can turn this off if you’re not interested.
Pop-out email windows. You can now pop-out individual email messages—both new messages that you write and those you have received—into their own windows, so you can refer to other emails as you write. This is fairly sophisticated, and helps Outlook.com behave more like a client-side email application.
Add-ins. Outlook.com now supports the same add-ins that developers create for Office 365 and Outlook 2016 for Windows and Mac. Several are enabled by default, including Bing Maps, Evernote, PayPal for Outlook, Uber Ride Reminder, and others. For example, the PayPal for Outlook add-in lets you send money directly from Outlook.com without leaving the inbox.
Simple OneDrive sharing. Now, you have the option to move attached files from an email message to your OneDrive, allowing you to more easily share lots of files, or files that may exceed the limits of email.
View and edit Office attachments without leaving Outlook.com. When you receive a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document via email, you can view and edit it right in the browser window—using Office Online—without leaving Outlook.com. And if you do edit the document, you can send it back to the person who emailed it to you without first saving it locally and re-attaching it. Nice!
Calendar search. Hold on to your hats, since even the Calendar app in Windows 10 can’t do this: You can search your calendar for events and for people associated with events!
New mobile experience. While most Outlook.com users are probably better off using Outlook for Android or iPhone, or Outlook Mail, Calendar, and People for Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft has also refreshed the Outlook.com mobile web client for those who prefer that approach. It supports swipe gestures and, amazingly, add-ins.
There’s a whole lot more going on, of course, but these are the things that really stick out as nice improvements over the previous version of the service. For a more complete list of the changes, be sure to check out Microsoft Announces Major Changes Coming to Outlook.com.