A peek at the next Outlook for Windows or Mac

There are interface changes coming to Outlook for Windows and Mac which Microsoft quietly previewed recently.

As usual, interface changes are accompanied by the same vague promises and jargon.  Long standing Office users will find a lot of what follows to be tiresomely familiar.

We’re told this change will ‘increase new and existing user satisfaction’ with a ‘cleaner, more modern way to do email’.  Has there ever been an Office interface boasting a ‘messy’ and ‘old-fashioned’ interface?

For the latest in corporate doublespeak, Microsoft says the changed interface will ‘Decrease primary negative NPS driver’.  In English, that means greater satisfaction between the user and the company (Microsoft).  That’s important to Microsoft but maybe not so much to the organizations who have to deploy and train on another new interface.   NPS is defined at Wikipedia.

Ignore the BS, there’s some good stuff

With that prelude, our Microsoft BS filter was set to maximum.  But when we looked at some of detail, there’s some things to like in the new approach.

Here’s a snapshot from Microsoft of the new look Outlook for Windows, coming in 2018.

Source:  Microsoft video (hence the fuzzy quality)

What’s in the new Outlook interface

The main aim is to make the Outlook Windows/Mac interface match what’s available in the Outlook apps for iOS and Android or the Outlook.com web site look.  We’re not sure that’s appropriate or necessary but there are some welcome changes.

There’s a single-line but much more customizable ribbon.

The left hand navigation pane is getting a revamp.

New One-line ribbon

The look is flatter with a single-line ribbon which leaves more vertical space for Outlook information. Microsoft has done this to reduce the feeling of complexity in Outlook by hiding the available options in the program.

The traditional ‘three line’ ribbon will still be available.

Customizable Ribbon

At the moment, many of the options on the Outlook ribbon are not used. The problem is that different options are used by different people.

The single line ribbon will be customizable.  We’ve heard this ever since Office 2007 got the ribbon but actually customizing it was clumsy and difficult.

(Sidebar: For years Microsoft staff have said how easy Office ribbon customization is.  Now there’s a coming alternative, ‘Softies are calling that same ribbon customization ‘challenging’ <sigh>.).

The new single-line ribbon is quite different.  On the right-side are plus and minus buttons to add and remove buttons more easily.  Here’s the Add menu with some recently used commands ready for adding to the ribbon or a full ‘Customize the Ribbon’ option at the bottom.

Source:  Microsoft video (hence the fuzzy quality)

Left / Navigation pane

The navigation look and feel from Outlook apps, especially iPhones, is coming to the desktop.

Triple Doublespeak alert: Microsoft is calling it a navigation ‘experience’.  In the 21st Century, beware anything called an ‘experience’.  The changes are also called an ‘investment’ and, maybe worst of all, a ‘vision’.

The highlight here is the ability to mix regularly used folders from different accounts.

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