Microsoft is Expanding the Availability of Focused Inbox for Outlook

Posted on October 20, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Office, Office 365, Outlook.com, Windows 10, Windows Phones with 15 Comments

Microsoft is Expanding the Availability of Focused Inbox for Outlook

Microsoft says it is expanding the availability of its Focused Inbox functionality across the many confusing versions of Outlook it supports on Windows, Mac, mobile, and the web. Understanding how and when you get this feature, however, will require a bit of black magic.

So let’s see if we can sort through this mess.

Starting with: What is Focused Inbox? This is a feature that debuted in an Android and iOS app called Accompli, which was then purchased by Microsoft and turned into Outlook for Android and iOS. It splits your email inbox into two views: Focused and Other, the idea being that the important stuff you should address first will be in the default Focused view. And then you can get to Other—mailing lists, and the like—whenever you feel like it.

I always thought that Focused Inbox was a great idea. But what I didn’t know until recently was that it required the app to route your email through a cloud service—previously hosted on Amazon AWS, but more recently migrated to Microsoft Azure—a fact that makes this functionality less than ideal for many companies. But assuming you’re OK with the cloud-based processing that lets the magic happen, Focused Inbox is a cool idea. And it works really well, learning as you correct its auto placements of emails.

When Microsoft purchased Accompli, it made a great decision: It put this team in charge of Outlook across all platforms and has since been working to bring all Outlook clients in line. So the end game here is a more consistent experience across all Outlook versions. And that includes bringing each up to date with the same functionality, where appropriate, as well. So bringing Focused Inbox to other Outlook clients is obviously part of that work.

Back in July, Microsoft said that it would bring Focused Inbox to Outlook 2016 for Windows and Mac, Outlook on the Web, and the new Outlook.com. In doing so, however, it would also decrement and then remove a similar feature, called Clutter, that Microsoft had previously developed in-house. So as Focused Inbox is rolled out, Outlook (whatever version) will stop moving email into the Clutter folder you may be currently using.

Earlier this month, Microsoft provided a new timeline for this rollout, which looks like so:

  • Outlook for Mac, iOS, Android, and Web (for customers on Office 365 First Release). Starts in late October, but the rollout will take 4-6 weeks.
  • Outlook 2016 for Windows. November 2016.
  • Outlook (Mail) for Windows 10 Mobile. November 2016.
  • Outlook for Mac, iOS, Android, and Web (for customers on Office 365 Standard Release). Starts in late November, but the rollout will take 6-8 weeks.

I’d add:

  • Outlook.com. Available now, requires the Outlook.com.
  • Outlook Android and iOS (for non-Office 365 accounts). Available now.

And…

What about Outlook (Mail) for Windows 10? Since Outlook (Mail) for Windows 10 Mobile is getting Focused Inbox, you’d assume the Windows 10 (for PCs) version of the app is too. But I’m not sure when/how/if that happens. Microsoft’s updated post never mentions it.

Anyway, I hope that clarifies things. And I know that it does not. 🙂

 

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Microsoft is Expanding the Availability of Focused Inbox for Outlook”

  1. 7012

    I now forward all of my e-mail to Outlook.com for privacy (more than Gmail at least) and push notifications.  I enjoy the focused inbox and use Outlook across all my devices.  My only real issue is with the inability to "Mark as Junk" in the iOS apps.  I have to switch to a browser and log in to Outlook.com to do it.  

  2. 127

    Outlook Mail for Mobile is the same app as Windows 10 (desktop) app. So logical deduction tells me it is coming. I know there is the Microsoft factor, but still...

  3. 3494

    This might be good for business users, but for me, the average Joe, it's another place I would have to look for email. I like to have it all in one place. I have it off on my Outlook for IOS on my iPhone.

  4. 308

    I love this feature on the Android Outlook App. The only other feature I hope comes to the Windows 10 Outlook/Calander app is auto complete for locations in Calander so I can get traffic updates to all of my appointments on Windows.  

  5. 1488

    The main thing I don't like about outlook for iOS is you cannot swipe to delete, only archive. They should give you both options.

  6. 5542

    Focused inbox didn't work for me and was so $#@! frustrating!  I gave it a month and continually had to switch out of it to get to the emails I needed to get and I really didn't want yet another place for my emails to be stored.  I turned it off.

    ** PLEASE FORGIVE ANY TYPOS OR MISSPELLINGS AS THE COMMENTS BOX DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH SAFARI OR CHROME "CHECK AS YOU TYPE SPELL CHECKING **

  7. 607

    You say ... The accompli team was put in charge of Outlook ... Were they also put in charge of calendar on win10 mobile?  Is this why my Lumia 1520 win10 mobile 1607 calendar lost the monthly view that was there in win10 mobile 1511?

  8. 1369

    Tangentially related, but I _STILL_ don't have the new Outlook.com, so it's hard to FOCUS on any new features without that.

     

  9. 473

    I hope you can turn it off I hate focussed inbox, it caused me to miss many emails until I realised what was going on!

  10. 5135

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world the Outlook email service does exist.

  11. 514

    I have the new version of outlook.com on W10 anniversary insider release preview ring.  I don't see anything purporting to be a focused inbox.  Is it not there yet, or is there some magic to turning it on?

  12. 189

    Is this on hold?  I've got the new Outlook.com on several accounts and none of them have the Focused Inbox.

  13. spall

    Last month I got it in Office 365 for Education through the web client, but still not for Outlook 2016!!

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