13 of 16Image
The Mail app gets serious
The Mail app included with Windows 8 was embarrassingly incomplete. Its Windows 8.1 successor is a strong candidate for Most Improved App, with a slew of big changes. Among them:
- IMAP support in addition to the POP and Exchange ActiveSync support in the Windows 8 app
- The ability to drag and drop messages and create rules on the fly
- Automatic filtering of newsletters and social media updates (you can disable this feature or change its behavior for specific senders)
- The ability to pin folders and designate contacts as favorites so you can quickly see messages from those senders
There's a search box above the message list as well, making it easier to find exactly the message you're looking for.
Gmail support is still limited
Last year, shortly after Windows 8 was released, Google abruptly discontinued support for Exchange ActiveSync (except for paying Google Apps customers). As a result, the Windows 8.1 Mail app uses IMAP to sync messages but doesn't offer the same sync support for contacts and calendar items as it does for Outlook.com (Hotmail), Office 365, and other Exchange-compatible accounts.
One of the signature features in Windows 8.1 is a major expansion of the built-in search capabilities. Click the Search charm to open a search pane on the right. Enter a search term and some results appear immediately beneath your input. If you don't find what you're looking for, click the search button (or press Enter) to see a complete list of results, including installed apps, settings, and results from the web.
If you're firmly convinced that Google is better than Bing, you can disable the Bing results and just use the search tool for local files, apps, and settings. But I've found the results generally excellent, and pressing the new system shortcut for Search, Windows key+S, is now second nature for me.