For quite a few years now, Microsoft 365 users have contended with using two versions of Outlook: The online version and the desktop version. One might assume that there can’t be much of a difference between the two; but in fact, the user interface and experience differs considerably between web and desktop. Many IT support companies (and other types of organisations) use Outlook for Windows, because having a desktop app is more convenient to use when one is in the flow of work.
Microsoft are now taking steps to bring consistency between the web and desktop versions of their email client.
New Outlook for Windows
Users can expect the new Outlook for Windows to be rolled out in the not-so-distant future – but currently, it is only available to certain users. The Windows Insider program is Microsoft’s scheme for allowing Microsoft account holders to get access to new features and updates before they are publicly released – this benefits Microsoft as they can valuable feedback from real people. Anyone can join Windows Insider, but there are several different channels within it – such as the Dev channel, which is not recommended for casual users, and the Beta channel, which only rolls out features that are largely stable.
What is new
Outlook for Desktop has historically been better suited for organisations and professionals, due to it having more features for organisation, automation, and scheduling. The new Outlook for Windows includes even more functions and features to enhance productivity and collaboration at work:
New RSVP for hybrid working
The new RSVP feature in the new Outlook for Windows is specifically designed to support hybrid offices in arranging meetings. When an Outlook meeting is created and sent out, each participant will have the option to accept the invitation as normal – but now, participants can choose between saying ‘Yes, In Person’ or ‘Yes, Virtually’. This will give event organisers a clearer idea of the attendance of meetings and other events.
Find and attach files more efficiently
The system for attaching files in the new Outlook for Windows is very slick. All you need to do is type ‘@’ followed by the name of the file or document, and it will be attached within the text. This is in line with the @mention feature that is already available in Outlook; and the idea is to make attaching files as easy and streamlined as possible.
Keep on top of work with Intelligent assistance
This new intelligent feature will remind you of important emails you may have missed. For example, if you have overlooked an email in Outlook, an email reminder will be pinned to the top of your inbox, making it easy to review any emails that may be important.
Drag-and-drop emails into your To Do list
Microsoft To Do and the new Outlook for Windows come together to provide a handy new feature, called My Day. This new feature is a collapsible window in the top-right corner of Outlook, which allows you to drag-and-drop an email into To Do, turning it into a daily task. My Day also includes a Calendar section, meaning you can perform the same drag-and-drop action to turn an email into a Calendar event.
New Calendar view
The excellent new board view in Outlook calendar provides a modular interface for managing your daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. This Calendar view allows you to add a wide range of widgets – such as a Tasks widget, a Note widget, a Files widget, etc. – and arrange them in whatever way you want. This means you can have all the important things you need for work in a single view in Outlook.
Use Microsoft Loop in emails
Microsoft Loop enables users to create, share, and edit assets – such as polls, reports, etc. – known as Loop Components with their colleagues. The idea is that teams can share highly relevant information that remains in sync no matter how many times that information is copied and pasted to different places. An interesting use case for this would be sharing Loop Components poll in a group email, and allowing recipients to add information that gets updated in real time.