Microsoft are slowly rolling out the latest release (R5) of Outlook Live to student users of their student-focused cloud suite, Live@edu.
This is expected to be the last release before Office 365 for Education is to take over later on this year.
Though I said just before Christmas, the chances were that the overall feel to the suite would not change, with only a minor update made to Outlook Web App - the main email application used as part of the cloud email suite.
So far, some of the new features include:
- New user interface which is expected to remain with the rollout of Office 365 for Education later this year; nothing too new so it won't startle you, though;
- Dozens of themes, similar to that of Hotmail, to replace the boring university set theme by default;
- Spell checking and picture resizing in email composing mode;
- Instant contact search instead of a new window displaying the global address list or your contacts;
- 'Quick options' for basic inbox rule and automatic reply creation, straight from the inbox;
- Simple email settings view instead of the convoluted, confusing settings as seen previously;
- Import contacts from a pre-existing comma separated file;
- Retention policy settings, to allow you to control and manage your email archiving;
- Simplified mailbox usage bar to allow you to manage how much space you have left;
- and finally, the ability to download multiple files as a .zip file.
If you have not yet seen the new version of Office Live, sit tight. The network administrators at your school, college or university have no control over when it might happen. But be rest assured that it will happen in the space of hours, days or at most, a couple of weeks.
Update: Mary Jo Foley wrote about the Feburary refresh of Live@edu, whereby Outlook Live would have an updated version of Outlook Web App, which is confirmed. Whether or not the updated behind-the-scenes stuff like Forefront for Exchange, spam and anti-virus protection has been added yet, it is not yet clear from an end user-perspective.