Microsoft's Outlook.com email service is getting a big revamp, one that the company is initially testing with Preview users that are expected to contribute feedback at the new Outlook UserVoice forum. The new features will be made more widely available through an opt-in program in the coming weeks.
Apart from a fresh interface, the service will get new features to help you sort your inbox better, new themes, and add-ins that are a feature of Microsoft's Outlook app that ships with MS Office. This comes in the wake of reports that Microsoft's Outlook.com will soon be powered by Office 365, something that Microsoft has confirmed in its blog post introducing the changes.
The most important new feature in Outlook.com is the inclusion of add-ins. Microsoft add-ins from Uber, PayPal and Boomerang are going to be rolled out, with more on the way. Add-ins provide better integration with third-party services similar to how extensions add features to a Web browser.
The new design looks a lot cleaner and features as many as 13 new themes. While this doesn't drastically alter Outlook.com's appearance, it does signal a move towards Windows 10's look and feel. A host of Microsoft apps such as Office that will get an update for Windows 10 are expected to get a similar design change.Another important feature is tighter integration with Skype. With the new Outlook.com interface, a Skype button shows up on the top bar for people to start chatting with their Skype contacts right inside their inbox. If you've received an email from a Skype contact, you can start chatting and with the contact and the conversation appears next to the email thread. This follows Microsoft's removal of Google and Facebook chat integration from Outlook.com.
The ability to pin emails is a nice little function that should have been there from the start. It helps you keep important emails at the top of your inbox, which is essential for anyone who suffers from inbox overload. That brings us to Clutter, which is a feature designed to keep your inbox clean. The Verge reports that Clutter will learn which emails you ignore often and automatically send them to a separate folder. Those who use Google's Inbox app will find Clutter useful.
A big part of dealing with lots of emails is search. If you email some people often then Microsoft will highlight them when you type something in the Outlook.com search bar. Other improvements to search include the ability to filter search results by attachments, date, folder, and sender. The calendar in Outlook.com is also getting an improved design as well.
There are some more small improvements are likely to improve people's email workflow. You can now paste images directly when composing emails, which eliminates the extra step of attaching them. OneDrive users can now easily convert attachments to OneDrive links. Links to websites or videos on YouTube will feature a preview in the email itself.