Last May, Microsoft announced a massive upgrade to Outlook.com, its webmail service, bringing a wide range of new features - but it's remained in preview since then, with availability limited to a small subset of users.
Today, though, Microsoft has brought the new Outlook.com out of preview, and will begin rolling it out to millions more existing users each week from now. New users signing up to Outlook.com in North America will get the upgraded version of the site from today, with availability expanding to other markets soon.
Today's announcement follows Microsoft's introduction of Dropbox and Box integration for those using the Outlook.com preview earlier this year, and this will become more widely available now that the preview phase has ended.
On top of this, Microsoft has announced GIPHY integration into Outlook.com, allowing users to easily add clips from the world's largest GIF library, directly into their emails. This comes in addition to add-ins from other partners including Evernote, PayPal, Yelp and Wunderlist. Special offers are also available from two other partners:
- If you’re a new Uber user, you can get $20 off your first ride when using the Uber Outlook add-in. After you get the ride reminder, just enter the code “OutlookLove” in the Uber mobile app to get the discount for your first ride (valid in US only).
- Boomerang users can use the service to streamline scheduling and track responses to emails free for the first six months!
Emojis and images are a big part of the new Outlook.com as well, as Microsoft explains:
Emojis are a fun way to make your emails more expressive. We added a quick and simple way to find and insert emojis into your emails in Outlook.com. To search for an emoji, type a colon at the beginning of a word such as “:happy” or “:cake”. A visual selection of matching emojis will be presented for you to select.
Image editing is easier than ever, too—simply copy and paste images directly into the body of your message and get access to a range of formatting options to edit it right in your inbox.
An improved Skype experience is also promised, "which will soon have the ability to schedule a Skype Call using your Outlook calendar".
There are also more fundamental improvements to help users to stay on top of things. Built on Office 365, Microsoft is promising that the new Outlook.com will offer a far greater set of powerful and indispensable tools, "like the ability to automatically add flight confirmations to your calendar to stay on top of your travel schedule and a smarter address book that understands who you talk to the most".
Other productivity-focused improvements include better collaboration features:
We often receive attachments in email containing things like to-do lists, travel itineraries or monthly budgets. Managing edits in an attachment can be an arduous multi-step process, especially in other email services that don’t work well with Office documents. Outlook.com is deeply integrated with Office, with a new side-by-side editing feature designed to simplify this process. You can now view or edit Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents and photos while simultaneously replying to the original message.
Many of us are on email conversations where we need to add new people to the conversation. If there is a photo or other attachment shared on the original conversation, we often forget to re-attach it for the new person who was just added. Outlook.com has the perfect solution! Now, when you add someone new, you get a prompt asking if you want to re-attach the most recent photo/other file to the conversation.
Microsoft is promising more enhancements and additions "over the coming months", and is inviting users to share their feedback on the Outlook UserVoice site.
The company also launched a new information site showcasing the improvements to Outlook.com.
You can get an overview of the new Outlook.com features and improvements in Microsoft's video below: