Microsoft offers new info on upcoming Windows 8.1 Mail update

While Microsoft released the public preview of Windows 8.1 last week, the company chose not to launch a new version of the included Mail app at the same time. However, during a session at BUILD 2013 last week, Microsoft revealed lots of plans to update the Mail app when the final version of Windows 8.1 is released later this year.

The session, which is available to view now on the Channel 9 website, was conducted by Jeremy Epling, the Principle Program Manager Lead on the Mail app. He stated that for the Windows 8.1 update, the goal is to make the Mail app more useful for people who use the keyboard and mouse controllers, compared with the emphasis on touchscreen PCs in earlier versions.

As you can see in the image above, the Mail app for Windows 8.1 now has a new column on the left side of the app which is called the Power Pane. It will automatically label emails in a user's inbox in different categories, such as Favorites. If the app is connected to Outlook.com, emails that have News Updates and Social Networks will automatically be taken out of the inbox and filter them into the categories in the Power Pane. Another feature will allow the multiple app view mode in Windows 8.1 to allow users to write or view multiple emails at the same time.

Microsoft will also update the Calendar and People apps in Windows 8.1 alongside the Mail app, according to Epling, but no details were revealed. As we reported last week, the Messaging app that's included in Windows 8 will be removed in Windows 8.1 in favor or Skype.

Source: Channel 9 | Image via Microsoft

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32 Comments

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What has boggled my mind since the release of Windows 8 is how great of a job they did redesigning outlook.com, and how completely garbage the default mail app is.

Just say, "hey, this one is better," and make it the design for both. It's what Apple does, it's what Google does...

+1. You'd think that picking an accent color for the system would at least translate over to the main communication apps.

I would love to see a default implementation of Chat that is NOT full screen. Just like search is now in 8.1. Chatting is something I do all day long, and it is just a tiny little box on one of my screens, well it used to be tiny before they shoved Skype down my throat. Now they force me to use up 1/3 of my screen for it. It should be simple and out of the way, and it should not deter me from my current workflow. Let's see how they screw this one up. I now use Search charm all the time in 8.1 because it doesn't blow the entire screen away. That is a gargantuanly huge improvement for my needs.

Messaging app dissapeared from 8.1 preview but you can bring it back. Uninstall Mail app (which includes People, Meessaging, Mail etc) and reinstall it from App Store. It will come with Messaging app again. I know it is a short term solution but at least we can use FB chat untill full app is ready.

No default messaging app is a mistake. Microsoft should include a high quality XMPP compatible IM client. Users can choose to connect to Facebook or other services. For now Google Talk still is exposed with XMPP.

ObiWanToby said,
No default messaging app is a mistake. Microsoft should include a high quality XMPP compatible IM client. Users can choose to connect to Facebook or other services. For now Google Talk still is exposed with XMPP.

I believe Skype is going to be the default messaging app.

Skype on Windows 8 is junk. Notifications alternate between coming in from contacts' email addresses instead of their name; and when they come in only with an email address, tapping them drops you into an empty conversation that says you have to invite them to be contacts with you.

xpxp2002 said,
Skype on Windows 8 is junk. Notifications alternate between coming in from contacts' email addresses instead of their name; and when they come in only with an email address, tapping them drops you into an empty conversation that says you have to invite them to be contacts with you.

I don't deny it's not that great, I'm just saying what I remember hearing is going to happen. Skype will take over as the default messaging app with Windows 8.1 and up. We still have months to go till 8.1 hits so it'd be great if they update it like they're updating all the other apps, I expect they will.

Hope they added LDAP support, and can let users control what folders are being synced (for people whose servers host huge e-mail distribution lists).

SK[ said,]Hope in the People app I can finally add custom photos to my contacts!

Here here, will flip a fn desk if this feature doesnt make it this time around

YES! but the reality is that without updated surface hardware using either snap dragon 800 or haswell/baytrail, the mail app will still be too slow to use.

neonspark said,
YES! but the reality is that without updated surface hardware using either snap dragon 800 or haswell/baytrail, the mail app will still be too slow to use.

I don't own a surface but do you seriously believe the device is not powerful enough to run a simple mail app? Have you ever thought it's actually the app itself that is slow (and/or your internet connection making it slower)? I find it very hard to believe the built-in mail app is taxing your Surface hardware that badly...

Liron Hazan said,
the question if facebook will arrive until the RTM or until the GA or afterwards

The desktop Skype client can already connect to Facebook chat so I imagine it won't be too hard for them to add the same functionality to the modern UI version

Maxime Tremblay said,
One thing, I miss the native Facebook chat on my Surface RT. Microsoft needs to put this in Metro Skype app.

Yup - just stupid and annoying