Taking a play out of the social media playbook, the Outlook web app for Office 365 business customers will soon be getting Likes and Mentions features.
We’ve already become accustomed to using these kinds of features on our favorite social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, but it should be noted that Outlook’s offering focuses exclusively on business productivity use cases.
The Likes feature for Outlook on the Web was designed not to help employees vote on their favorite donut flavors, but to “bubble up” the best ideas brought about in long email discussions. It works by allowing users to “thumbs up” individual messages, making it easier for other team members to recognize when something good is cooking.
The Mentions feature works just like you’d expect in your favorite social media. Whereas Likes brings attention to individual emails, Mentions brings attention to certain people. Including an @ symbol in the body of the email will draw up a list of contacts and automatically append said individual to your “To” line of emails. Office 365 integration goes a step further, and will cause the @flag to be highlighted in the message, and the targeted individual will receive an @ flag in his/her inbox view next to the message. @messages can also be sorted higher to ensure all @messages are responded to.
The Like feature will roll out on Outlook on the web starting today for Office 365 First Release customers whose Office 365 plan includes Exchange Online. The feature will be available to general Office 365 customers in late October.
The Mention feature rollout cadence will be slower than the Like feature by two weeks: Office 365 First Release customers will get this feature mid-October, and general customers mid-November.
Outook.com users who have migrated to the new version of the service will get the Mentions feature around December.
For non-web app users, the Mentions feature will come to Office 2016 and Outlook for iOS and Android sometime in the first half of 2016. No timeframe was given for the availability of the Like feature on these apps. Interesting to note that there’s no mention for Windows 10 Universal or Windows Phone support.
Finally, Like and Mention features will be available to all Office Business, Enterprise, EDU, and Government plans.
Microsoft is laser-focused on making its Office 365 offerings as productive as possible for businesses and organizations. Likes and Mentions follows the Planner as the latest in an ever-growing expansion of productive features being added.