Earlier this Month, WinBeta reported that Microsoft was planning to migrate Outlook.com users to Office 365 later this year. It turned out to be not that much later this year, as the migration to an “Office 365 based infrastructure” was announced today by Microsoft. The announcement was for a significant update to Outlook.com that brings an assortment of new features, add-ins, and redesigned user-interface.
The update is only being released in preview today to a small subset of users but will be rolling out in the coming weeks on an opt-in basis.
While it is gaining many of the looks and features available in the Outlook app of Office 365, the regular user version of Outlook.com is still remaining a free, ad supported application.
Those familiar with the Outlook Web Portal for Office 365 will be at home with the new look and feel in Outlook.com. The inbox will be refined and add the following new features:
- Clutter—Get help managing your inbox. Clutter works on your behalf, sorting messages you’re likely to ignore into a separate folder, so you can focus on what matters. The more you use Outlook.com, the better Clutter gets. You can help train Clutter by dragging messages in or out of the Clutter folder and you can turn it on or off depending on your preferences.
- Search Suggestions and Refiners—Find what you need, fast. Suggestions put the people you communicate with and the content in your mailbox at your fingertips when searching for content. Refiners let you pivot your search results based on the sender, folder, date received and attachments. We’ve also added highlighting, making it easy to spot your search terms within the results.
- New themes—We’ve added 13 new themes with graphic designs to help you express your personality in your inbox.
- Link preview—Just paste a link into your message and Outlook.com automatically generates a rich preview to give your recipients a peek into the contents of the destination. It works great with any webpage, but try it with video links from Vimeo and YouTube for something even better.
- Inline images—Copy and paste images directly into the body of your message, right where you want them.
- Pop-out read and compose—Multi-tasking is easy with messages that pop out into new windows.
- Pins and Flags—Keep essential emails at the top of your inbox with Pins and mark others for follow-up with Flags. Pins are now folder specific, great for anyone who uses folders to organize their email. Quickly find and manage your flagged items with inbox filters or the new Task module, accessible from the app launcher.
- Add-ins—Announced earlier this month at Build, add-ins appear while you’re reading or composing a message and are designed to help you complete the task at hand. In addition to the Bing Maps, My Templates and Suggested Meetings add-ins that are built-into Outlook.com, we’re excited to have third-party add-ins on the way from Uber, Boomerang and PayPal. Watch for more partner announcements soon.
Outlook.com will also include new ways to communicate and collaborate right from you inbox. With a new Skype integration, there will be an easy transition between email and voice or video chat. Additionally, to ease collaboration, there will simplified process of sharing files through OneDrive.
The new inbox will support side-by-side views of attachments next to emails so you can view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files while replying to messages. All of the edits will be saved automatically and attached to your responses when you hit send, streamlining the process and removing the steps of downloading, editing, saving and reattaching files.
Additionally the Outlook.com calendar will be gaining a similar UI overhaul to better match its Office 365 counterpart.
As Microsoft makes these features available they will also be looking for feedback from those who opt-in. To support this Microsoft also launched Outlook User Voice to gather feedback. If you want to check out what ideas Outlook.com ideas users are talking about and voting on for the new edition of Outlook.com, head over to http://outlook.uservoice.com/.
Stay tuned to WinBeta as the select preview opens up in the coming weeks and these new features go live for Outlook.com users who want to opt-in to the new update.