Designed for Simplicity: User experience updates to Outlook for Windows

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Outlook Blog articles.

The most prominent update coming to Outlook for Windows is the new Simplified Ribbon and it’s showcased with the new Coming Soon feature pane. Over the last two years we’ve been talking, concepting and co-creating with customers and are now ready to introduce an exciting number of updates that simplify the user experience, while keeping with the familiarity of Outlook. These updates are aimed at making it easier for you to get things done and focus on what matters with a customizable experience that keeps you in control. 


Customize your Outlook experience with a Simplified Ribbon


Since Microsoft introduced the ribbon we’ve learned a lot about how customers use this tool in Outlook. At the top of that list is this notion that how you work is highly personal. For example, people generally use the same ten commands most of the time but still need a level of customization for that 11th, 12th and 13th command, which are all different based on a user’s personal preference and what they work on most.


The Simplified Ribbon is both easily customizable and adaptable. The single row of commands can be quickly personalized to suit your work style and preferences—simply pin or remove commands from the ribbon that are important to you. You can always click back into the classic, full ribbon to access the complete set of commands anytime. You will also find that the Simplified Ribbon is now adaptive.  It scales to fit different window sizes, adjusts icon labels and moves commands out of the way and accessible via new ellipses and menu drop down experiences.


Watch this video to see the Simplified Ribbon and more updates coming to Outlook for Windows:


Focus on what matters


Many small changes in the message list help highlight the things that matter. For example, names are bolded and flagged messages stand out with a yellow background. And with a little more padding and text treatment to create a clearer visual hierarchy, scanning your inbox is easier and focusing on important messages is easier than ever.


Message subjects are more prominent in the reading pane and the header now takes up less space, leaving more room for your content.


hero.PNGUpdates to message list and reading pane

Similarly, we made the commands you need for rich content creation available when you Pop Out your message response so you can easily access the power of the full ribbon in Outlook at any time.


And email and calendar response options, such as Reply or Accept buttons, are contextual to where you are working.


Stay organized 


In the familiar folder pane, where email messages may be distributed across Favorites, Folders and Groups, special icons make each of them easy to spot. We learned that customers who frequently use Office 365 Groups needed quicker access to the group folders. In this update, we’ve elevated Groups to show up as a peer of personal folders under each account so now they will be accessible even if you hide your Folders list.


To give you more time back in your day, updates in Outlook Calendar help speed up the process of sending a meeting request. Both Required and Optional attendees can be quickly added. And with a clean, reorganized meeting request form, by setting the meeting time first, you make the suggested Location or conference rooms time-aware.


Stay organized pillar win32 meeting compose_no_room_finder v2.pngOutlook Calendar updatesThe updated Outlook for Windows experience is simpler and more customizable so you can work faster and get back to the things that matter most. Outlook helps you connect, organize and get things done. We’re excited about these changes and look forward to your feedback.


Coming Soon and the user experience updates are rolling out to customers in the Monthly Channel (Targeted) release program in the next few weeks then later rolling out more broadly to all Office 365 customers. 


When you see Coming Soon, turn it On, explore the updates and let us know what you think. 


To stay up-to-date, follow us on Twitter or keep an eye on the Office roadmap to see what is coming. You can also read about the updates coming to Outlook on the web.



Frequently asked questions

  1. When will I see the changes?

These changes will start to roll out to the Office Insider program Insiders and Monthly Channel (Targeted) customers in September and then, based on customer feedback, more broadly to production for Monthly Channel customers.  Coming Soon will continue to be available in Outlook for Windows throughout the roll out of the user experience updates.  These updates will not be available with Outlook in Office 2019 for Windows.  


  1. Can my company control when these updates roll out?

The Coming Soon feature allows users to try the new experience any time before they roll out to production to all Office 365 customers. At any time during that period, companies can prevent their users from having the Coming Soon option through group policy administration or users can try the experience with the Coming Soon feature and turn to the classic experience at their convenience. 

Once the new experience has completely rolled out to production and validated with customer feedback, the Coming Soon option will no longer be needed and the new experience will not be optional.


  1. Why don’t I see the changes now?

If any of the following are true, you may not see the updates in Outlook for Windows:  

  • Your company many not be part of the Office 365 Insiders or Monthly Channel Targeted program and the updates are not yet available in production, Monthly Channel.
  • Your company may have blocked Coming Soon through a group policy setting and the updates are not yet available in production.
  • You are using Outlook in Office 2013 or 2016.


  1. Will Coming Soon always be an available option?

No, Coming Soon is designed to share significant changes that will soon roll out to Office 365 customers.  The Coming Soon button and on/off toggle not be visible once those updates are fully rolled out to production and will appear again only when Microsoft plans to introduce additional, material changes in Outlook for Windows.


  1. What if I don’t want to accept the changes?

While Coming Soon is available, customers can return to the classic experience at any time.  Once the updates are fully rolled out in production, the option to return to the classic experience will no longer be available.  However, the Simplified Ribbon will always be expandable and collapsible.


  1. Are there more updates coming?

Yes, as announced in June 2018, the updates to the Office 365 and Outlook user experience are rolling out slowing over the next several months.  For example, updates to Search in Outlook for Windows are expected to roll out by the end of 2018.  Additional information will be forthcoming with more details closer to the roll out of additional updates.


  1. Can administrators turn off Coming Soon?

[Updated 9/11/18]   If you're an admin, you can use a regkey to hide the Coming Soon feature in Outlook for Windows.  Learn more.



If Coming Soon is not available for your users to try the new user experience and provide feedback at their convenience, they will receive the updates in Outlook for Windows once we roll them out to production for all Monthly Channel customers.  

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