Over the past six months, a selection of Microsoft Outlook users have been testing the new-look inbox, complete with additional personalisation and integration features. Now the Outlook team have confirmed that the new features will be rolled out to all users over the next few weeks. In addition, Microsoft Outlook users are invited to test out two new beta programs - for the Calendar and People applications - ahead of a potential further expansion of services
Complete overhaul for Mail features
The Outlook inbox will now feature Quick Settings, allowing for instant personalisation of the entire inbox. Users can choose chronological or reverse order for their conversations, flip their reading pane to the side or bottom of the screen, and choose whether to preview messages and attachments in list view.
Outlook has also made big advances in how it integrates apps with the user interface. Outlook add-ins can be installed directly from the Office store and pinned to the taskbar. Users can access translation programs, send payments, track work progress and more directly from their inbox, and use mail features with apps to share information across your apps and programs easily.
Skype has also had an integration upgrade. Now contacts can be reached from inside the inbox, and the platform allows for secure video calling and instant messaging without leaving the Outlook application. Conversations open in a separate window, inside the Outlook app, so you can continue to work and share files as you chat.
Calendar and People beta upgrades
While the new Mail features are coming to all users during March 2018, the People and Calendar upgrades remain in beta mode at this stage. Selected users will be prompted to opt in and try the new-look applications, with a view to making them permanent later in the year.
The look and feel of Calendar has been drastically improved. The clutter has been stripped away, leaving a minimalist layout that is easy on the eyes. Colour-coding and new icons make it easy to categorise events, and all manner of new reminders and alerts can be set so you never miss a meeting, birthday or TV show again. There is also a quick entry form for new events, so you can update the Calendar in just a few clicks.
The People upgrade brings the profile card hover feature to all linked apps, including Mail and Messaging. Contacts can be assigned to lists for easy filing and finding, and you can create groups for work or social conversations. Profile cards can now be customised with far more details, from hobbies and interests to birthdays and occasions, making the People experience a much more personal one.
Finally, the changes pull People and Mail functions together properly for the first time. Now you can email contacts from the People screen, and make connections from your email contacts, without the need to switch between the apps. Contacts can also be added to the new Favourites folder, for easy access to conversations and emails with your most important associates.
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