Microsoft has launched an overhaul of the Outlook.com webmail service. More than just a tweak, the company has sent out a fresh UI look and added several smarter tools and features. Improved performance and abilities are a way to contemporize Outlook.com. Currently, the update is available in beta.
Users can opt in to test the new UI when they see a ‘try in beta' switch. Microsoft says not everyone can see the button yet, but it will be available to all in the next few weeks.
Of course, what's behind the button is most important. The new Outlook.com design presents emails in a conversation-like style. This is Microsoft pursuing a messaging app vibe for its mail service. Indeed, the company says making Outlook more intelligent was an important evolutionary step:
“Recent advances in programming, design, and artificial intelligence have enabled our engineers and designers to improve the Outlook.com web experience.”
In terms of new features, there are several to discuss. Outlook.com gets a new ‘quick suggestions' ability in email composition. For example, if you type in a company name, the service will automatically find nearby locations.
These pop ups provide details and can be extended to restaurants, flights, and other content. The addition is part of Microsoft's push to make the service more intelligent. Other smart abilities include a central hub for all photos that have been emailed. This allows improved and simpler image management.
Microsoft has also updated the search function, making it more powerful. For example, it will now result both emails and contacts for more nuanced searches.
Performance has been improved. Files and photos can be opened and attached more quickly, while general navigation is enhanced.
Finally, personalization options are coming to the inbox. Users can mark folders or people as favorites and can also find GIFs more easily with new expressions.