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New Outlook is coming to your desktop soon
Microsoft have released a completely new version of Outlook to some beta channels, parts of which will look familiar to you if you already use Outlook.com. This blog shows you what you can expect to see!

Posted by Andy Brown on 26 July 2022

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New Outlook is coming to your desktop soon

Microsoft have been beavering away (well, coding away) for some time now on the Monarch project, also known as One Outlook.  The aim is to unify Outlook for Windows, Mac and the web in one application (this will be just called Outlook, but I've called it new Outlook below).

Users of Outlook.com will notice fewest changes; users of Outlook for Mac the most. 

When will I get new Outlook?

Not for a while yet.  Here's my Office version:

Office version

I'm back on the Beta Channel, at least for a while.

 

However, I still can't run new Outlook.  I believe this is because Wise Owl commit the sin of using MDaemon rather than Exchange for a mail server, and currently the new Outlook roll-out is only available to those connecting to Exchange.

As an educated guess from reading around I wouldn't rely on getting new Outlook in any standard Office 365 channel until well into 2023 (but this is just an educated guess).

What does it look like?

There's a much simpler menu (hooray!):

New menu

No File menu any more - and not many other menus either.

 

However, there's a vertical task bar:

Left-hand task bar

Use these icons to move between parts of Outlook - or Office.

 

There's also a horizontal toolbar which presumably replaces most of the menu items:

Horizontal toolbar

The new toolbar includes an exciting Sweep option (more on this later).

Other than that, the Outlook screen looks cleaner, but recognisably similar (there's only so many ways you can display emails):

The new Outlook screen

The new screen is easier on the eye than current Outlook.

The rest of this blog shows some of the new features which new Outlook will bring to your desktop.

Conversation history

You will be able to show the history of a conversation:

Conversation history

No more scrabbling around trying to find all the messages to do with a conversation!

 

Finding documents to attach

If you want to attach a document you can just start typing its name:

Attaching documents

An especially useful innovation: you can type @ to begin a search for documents stored in the cloud.

 

Use Microsoft Loop to review documents

Yet another new Microsoft application!  Microsoft Loop was announced by Microsoft in November 2021.  It lets you "group all important project elements in Loop workspaces to see what everyone is working on and track progress toward shared goals".  Does the world need another Microsoft application to consolidate information?  We shall see.

Loop within Outlook

Current collaborations, as reported within Loop within new Outlook.

Loop is based on Microsoft Fluid.  It allows teams to collaborate on the development of components such as tables, lists or notes within any Microsoft application (or at least, that's the plan). 

Initially Loop will be available in Outlook, Teams and OneNote only, it seems, but if it takes off I would imagine it will be rolled out across all of the Microsoft 365 applications over the coming years.

Managing your to-do list

New Outlook provides a few ways to manage your work.  You can drag emails into your to-do list:

Adding a to-do item

This looks like a good idea - although surely that's what an Inbox is for?

 

The AI Assistant within new Outlook will also suggest emails which need dealing with: 

Focus emails

Emails which your software thinks you should answer will appear at the top of your Inbox (I really, really hope you can turn this feature off).

 

Finally, you can pin emails to the top of your inbox:

Pinning emails

Pin an email to make it remain visible at the top of your inbox.

 

Sweeping messages

You can click on the above-mentioned Sweep button to archive messages:

Sweeping messages

This presumably is just a quick and easy-to-use way of implementing an Outlook rule.

 

New calendar view

This is much cleaner, as you'd expect:

Calendar view 1

One way to look at a calendar ...

 

Calendar view can also be customised:

Calendar view 2

... and another.

 

Replying to meeting requests

When replying to a meeting, you can say how you will attend (in person or online):

Attendance reply

This feature surely wouldn't have been introduced without COVID?

 

Tasks and notes

As ever, you can keep track of tasks:

Task view

A list of things to do, with a note about expenses.

 

Wise Owl conclusion

As a user of Outlook for Windows but not Outlook.com, most of the above is unfamiliar to me.  It looks much cleaner and easier to use, and I look forward to being able to do so! 

However, many of the features for managing email will make little difference, I suspect.  People with good time management (of whom I hope I'm one) already know how to manage their inbox efficiently, and people without it will just have another place in which they can accumulate to-do tasks.

For more information on new Outlook (and the source of the screen-shots above) see this Microsoft Office Insider blog.

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