Some things never change, Outlook is not one of those things. Outlook seems to be the one constant in our ever-changing work environments. As the default email, calendar, and contact management platform for millions of organizations, many of us spend a big chunk of our days using Microsoft Outlook. So when Microsoft announces a major change to this essential productivity and communication tool, it has us all at the edge of our seats… or rather our office chairs.
At harmon.ie, we’ve been extending Outlook for a while now, and are ready to share some insights and tips. We have worked with One Outlook, which is already available for Office Insiders.
Here are some quick answers to some of your most pressing questions:
Today, Microsoft maintains multiple, different Outlook apps for different platforms. This has been their approach for decades, with mobile apps and web-based Outlook experiences augmenting their well-established Windows and MacOS apps.
Microsoft’s new One Outlook strategy makes a ton of sense—instead of maintaining and improving upon multiple Outlook apps, Microsoft decided to consolidate them all into a single app with a single source code that runs everywhere.
This consolidated approach allows Microsoft’s Outlook development team to become more efficient and focus on enhancements rather than trying to support multiple applications with slightly different capabilities and user experiences. For Microsoft, this makes perfect sense, but what about the users?
First and foremost, the refreshed Outlook UX/UI will look and function the same way on all platforms. This consistency slashes the learning curve and frustration with shifting from one experience to the next.
One Outlook will be very similar to the existing Outlook Web experience that you can find today on Outlook.com. It will have all the things that the browser version of Outlook has had for a while: A calendar board view to organize your day. Tasks, meetings, notes, and links are visible on a board. The ability to pin messages to the top of your inbox, snooze them, and drag them to your To Do list.
However, a number of new additions make One Outlook a more customizable and native experience. This includes a configurable ribbon, embedded window controls, and popping open new windows when you compose a message or create a calendar event. It also has new features like message reminders and support for Loop components.
Essentially, Microsoft is bringing the best of Outlook Web together with all the features that make a desktop client feel native to the OS.
Providing internal support for Outlook should get a lot easier once everyone migrates to the new One Outlook platform. A consistent user experience means simpler training and the ability to support internal users regardless of what device they’re using.
One Outlook’s web-first strategy also means local device issues with the software are less likely to occur, as most of the computing and storage occurs in the cloud. So, after the initial bumpiness of the transition, users should need even less individualized Outlook support from IT and, when those tickets do come in, there’s a shorter path to resolving them since everyone will have the same UX and configuration.
One Outlook introduces a new extensibility model so your “old” Outlook plug-ins will need to be replaced with new ones supporting the new extensibility model The new model enables third parties to develop Outlook Apps similar to Teams Apps.
Harmon.ie has been working with Microsoft on the new Office extensibility model to develop a completely new app called harmon.ie 365 Cloud Edition. This new App will deliver an integrated user experience across SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive and will plug into One Outlook and Outlook Web App. It will also enable you to find emails and documents across Outlook, SharePoint and Teams and combine the benefits of SharePoint metadata and Teams Chat.
But there’s no need to wait until your company begins using the new One Outlook. We invite you to watch our December event where we discussed One Outlook and answered all your questions.