Outlook Web Email Gets Overhaul

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has started rolling out a revamped Outlook.com, its email web portal. The service now includes a variety of tools, including some from other companies, designed to make email easier and more productive.

Outlook.com takes Microsoft's existing email software and turns it into a web service, meaning that you can get your messages by visiting a website in a browser rather than the traditional (if now seen as outdated) method of using a separate application.

Filtering And Searching Improved

Among the key features is "Clutter." It's Microsoft's take on a filter for messages that aren't exactly unsolicited emails (spam), but are instead low priority and less useful. The feature is optional but, if left on, will automatically filter the low value messages into a separate folder. Users can drag messages out of this folder to indicate they are actually important, which will refine the filtering in the future.

There's also an attempt to make it easier to search through email archives, something that's often see as a big advantage for rival services such as Google's Gmail. Both search and the contacts tool have been tweaked to give greater emphasis on the people you most often exchange messages with.

Another addition is "side by side" editing for attachments. If you get a Word, Excel or PowerPoint document with a message, you'll be able to edit and return it without needing to close the email window or open up Office or associated applications.

PayPal Payments Now Easier

There's also support for third-party add-ins. One example is a PayPal tool which lets you pick somebody from your contact list and send them money without needing to visit the PayPal site separately.

Another add-in is for the "ridesharing" service Uber. If you get a message that arranges a meeting, you'll now usually be able to click a link to automatically order a car for the relevant time and destination. (Source: office.com)

Somewhat depressing for more traditional language users is support for emojis - the small icons of faces and other images that some folks use to indicate tone or convey and emotion. For example, typing ":happy" will now automatically insert a smiling face without the need to hunt through emoji selection menus. (Source: venturebeat.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you still use Outlook or do you prefer a rival email service? Does it make any difference to you whether you get email through a website or a dedicated application? Which, if any, of the new Outlook.com features grab your attention?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (4 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

I still use Thunderbird for emails so I don't have to login to websites to send and receive messages. It's got all the anti-spam filtering I need, plus my messages are stored and archived locally. As long as your email provider supports POP or IMAP, you can most likely use Thunderbird to manage your emails. If I'm away from my PC, then I can simply login to the web portal.

Stuart Berg's picture

I also prefer local email clients (i.e. Thunderbird and Outlook) because I can compose new emails and read "old" emails without any Internet access. I just can't receive and send.

Unlike you, Dennis, I much prefer sending all my email addresses through Gmail before I access them because Gmail, IMHO, has the best spam filters available. I get about 50 spams a day and very rarely is Gmail wrong in identifying them as spam.

Dennis Faas's picture

Gmail works fine in Thunderbird - I use it all the time. If you want help setting that up, or any email account for that matter, I can help you do that by remote. Just shoot me an email (use the contact form on the site).

LouisianaJoe's picture

I preview all emails using Mailwasher. It lets me see the raw source of the email without viewing it like a browser. I have identified many emails that have links to unreliable domains in other countries.

Once I have verified emails in Mailwasher, I then read them in Thunderbird.