Microsoft details changes coming to Outlook on the Web

Microsoft is starting to roll out promised new features for its Outlook on the Web e-mail, starting with business customers in its Office 365 First Release program.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

When Microsoft delivered its public preview of Exchange Server 2016 last month, company officials provided a bit of information about the Outlook Web experience that would be coming along with the next Exchange release.

On August 4, Microsoft execs went public with more details about the product formerly known as Outlook Web App (OWA) -- which, going forward, will be called "Outlook on the web." Both customers accessing Outlook on the Web alongside on-premises Exchange Server and Office 365 business users with access to Exchange Online will be getting the Outlook on the Web updates.

What's coming as part of the new updates? A new action bar across Mail, Calendar, People and Task experiences; a more prominent subject line; indented reading pane messages are all part of the new "cleaner" UI, according to Microsoft.

The ability to pin messages, Sweep, Archive, Undo and optional single-line view features are all coming to Outlook on the Web, too. Users will get more mail customization opitons, plus new Calendar additions like weather, visual cues, and mail reminders.

Office 365 business users with Exchange Online who are part of the First Release program will begin seeing the new Outlook on the web updates as of today, August 4. The remaining Office 365 business customers will get them the first week of September. Any Office 365 business customer whose plan includes Exchange Online (including commercial, academic and government) will be receiving the new updates to Outlook on the web.

Users won't need to do anything differently to access their mail, calendar and contacts via the Web after getting the updates. Unlike the case with some Office 365 features, the deployment of the coming Outlook on the web updates cannot be delayed, according to Microsoft's blog post.

Microsoft is continuing to encourage Windows Phone, iOS and Android users to use the standalone Outlook apps to access mail when possible. But Outlook on the web is an option for anyone with a browser who can sign on at outlook.office365.com. I'm using the web to access my mail on Windows 10, as I am not a fan of the forced conversation view in the new built-in Windows 10 mail app, and am looking forward to getting the new updates.

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