Clutter comes to Office 365 hosting

Microsoft has announced the deployment of their new email management service for Office 365 hosting – Clutter.  It will be turned on, by default, for all customers using Microsoft’s mail hosting in June.

Clutter works at the server level to read your incoming messages and move the ones that the Clutter system thinks aren’t important.

Microsoft did try implying that Clutter is part of Outlook 2016. It’s not.  There are some controls for Clutter in Outlook 2016 (when connected to a compatible mail server) but Clutter itself is a server based system.

Here’s an example (provided by Microsoft) of the notification message you might receive.

Clutter works by monitoring how you deal with incoming messages.  Which ones you read, replied to, forwarded, moved or deleted.  Based on those actions and some default settings, Clutter moves what it thinks are less important messages to a Clutter folder.

You can override Clutter to designate a message as important.  Your network admin can also define important / not important messages at the server level (for example, making sure that vital emails from HR or senior management don’t get ‘cluttered’).

Microsoft is hyping up Clutter as you’d expect, it remains to be seen whether Clutter works for customers.  Past attempts at automatically sorting email haven’t gone well so experienced email users are understandably wary.

Clutter does need some patience.  It needs some time to watch how you manage email and it tries to emulate your wishes.   Being a server based system, it will affect your Inbox however you view it (mobile device, Outlook or browser).

There’s a daily notification email which tells you what it’s done.

You can control Clutter (including turning it off) from Outlook Web Access or Outlook 2016.  The notification emails have a link to the Clutter control panel online.

Clutter is only available to Office 365 hosting customers at this stage.  If Microsoft follows it’s stated policy, the feature might eventually make it to Exchange Server hosted elsewhere.

Clutter has no connection to the Outlook app features, archive or focused Inbox.  As ever, the Outlook apps for iOS and Android exist in a separate world from the rest of Microsoft’s mail technologies.

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