Microsoft’s proposed “Outlook for Windows” replacement has some additional features but still lacks features that most people would think are essential for any mail program. This “New Outlook” can’t do things that the Outlook apps for Windows, Mac, Apple and Android could do from the start.
The “New Outlook” is a totally different type of program, a Progressive Web App (PWA). See Why are there now two “Outlook for Windows”?
To be clear, what Microsoft calls “new features” are really existing and familiar Outlook desktop features that are being gradually added to the proposed replacement.
We’ll start with what’s NOT in the new Outlook because that’s what you need to know before switching over.
What’s missing from New Outlook
Deep down in Microsoft’s announcement is a “What’s next?” list but it’s really a shortened list of what’s missing in this totally new Outlook compared with the long-standing Outlook desktop for Windows.
- “Support for multiple email accounts within the same app. In the future you will be able to access multiple email inboxes and calendars (including both work and personal) in the same Outlook experience, just as you can today in Outlook mobile.
- Support for third-party email accounts in Outlook for Windows, including Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, and more.
- Numerous visual updates and personalization options so you can create your preferred email experience.
- Offline support so you can get things done and access content even when not connected to the Internet.
- Search folders for quick and easy access to all your emails.
- Support for web add-ins to enrich emails and calendar events with third-party apps and services like Salesforce and Zoom.
- Native ICS file type support designed to help you easily view and manage calendar events so you never miss an important event. “
Even the wording is very careful. Support for multiple accounts is compared with “Outlook mobile” apps – not the existing Outlook desktop program.
Offline support and Search are vital, but get buried at points four and five, below superficial things like the look of the new app and personalization.
Even “Native ICS” support is downplayed as a way to “view and manage calendar events”. Many users will have trouble without .ICS support. .ICS files are the cross-platform way calendar items are shared between people. If you get an appointment item in an email or download a calendar event from a web page, it’ll be in a .ICS file.
What’s added to New Outlook
Here’s what in the latest release of the Outlook web app, according to Microsoft.
Support for Microsoft accounts
Microsoft has the gall to boast that their new Outlook can support Microsoft hosted mailboxes!
What’s new is that “New Outlook” can link to personal Microsoft mailbox – Outlook.com or it’s predecessors Hotmail or Windows Live.
But only one mailbox is currently possible.
Dynamic calendar widths
This could be a nice touch, not available in Outlook desktop. The ability to widen columns in a calendar view to make events more readable.
It highlights a common problem with Microsoft’s hype. They boast about a new feature without a proper explanation of how to use it!
We can’t get adjustable calendar columns working. Is that because Microsoft hasn’t explained the ‘magic spell’ or it’s not available in the current release?
Simplified or compressed Ribbon
The smaller or simplified ribbon is available as an alternative to the full ribbon. It’s similar to the Outlook 365 desktop with the three-dots button showing the many overflow options.
Switch between “Classic” and “Simplified” ribbon from the little wedge bottom-right of the ribbon.
Another Microsoft mystery feature. There are supposed to be ‘Tips’ panels but we can’t find them and Microsoft doesn’t explain how to see them.
Outlook Quick Steps are now possible to slightly automate and combine common actions.
These features are also listed, even though they were in previous versions of the Outlook web app.
- Microsoft Loop to keep your team synced across Microsoft 365 apps
- Using @ mention to find and attach documents
- Intelligent assistance automatic reminders
- Drag and drop emails to your To Do with My Day
- The new Outlook calendar board view
- Pinning important emails
- Sweep to keep your Outlook inbox tidy
- Shared mailboxes and folders for easy collaboration
Frankly, there’s nothing of substance in that list. Mostly cloud-based features (To Do, Board view, Loop, Sweep etc) being linked into the web app. Nothing truly important if this app is truly going to replace Outlook desktop for Windows.
Who gets it?
The current requirements for trying the “New Outlook” web app.
- Outlook 365 for Windows. Insiders Beta Channel or Current Channel (Preview) from v2209 build 15629.20058.
- Windows 11 or Windows 10 from version 1809 build 17763
- Microsoft work, school or personal mailbox.
- Internet connection.