Inside Microsoft's Outlook evolution: One Outlook video heralds the end of fragmentation, promises seamless unity

Cosmocronos

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The so called new Outlook pale compared to the Office Outlook. Lack of functionalities, high memory usage and they even dropped the new view where you could arrange calendar tasks etc.
 

GraniteStateColin

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That video was embarrassing.

It was a fairly standard product manager's review. It didn't address an area of concern for me (rules for functions that don't currently work on the server like categorizing messages), but I didn't expect them to hit every possible concern users might have. It addressed all the important things: their goals, what specifically they're planning to do, the rough planned timeline, and how the timeline triggers will work to determine the actual schedule.
 

DontBeEvil10

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Microsoft will replace Fast, Light, touch&pen friendly native Mail & Calendar apps with the new terrible, slow, heavy, pen&touch unfriendly web tech based Outlook app in 2024 that doesn't even work in background and use 500mb of Ram for nothing.
 
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Iamdumbguy

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It was a fairly standard product manager's review. It didn't address an area of concern for me (rules for functions that don't currently work on the server like categorizing messages), but I didn't expect them to hit every possible concern users might have. It addressed all the important things: their goals, what specifically they're planning to do, the rough planned timeline, and how the timeline triggers will work to determine the actual schedule.
Lying about making the platform more agile and easier to add features while taking 4 years to stuff a web app into a Win32 shell.
 

iradeut

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Unifying the experience across platforms is an admirable goal, but doing so requires actually taking the best of what is available in each version. On my desktop, I use the classic Outlook app and have mastered it's capabilities. On my surface, I use Windows Mail and Calendar because of its swiping capability, as Classic Outlook is difficult on a smaller touch device. But I also have to run Classic Outlook in parallel on the Surface when I need to use a mailing list I've created, since that capability is missing from Windows Mail. In other words, it's a mess that has needed fixing for a long time. I suspect Microsoft gets most of its feedback from IT folks who are much more concerned with easy implementation than actual functionality.
 

GraniteStateColin

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Lying about making the platform more agile and easier to add features while taking 4 years to stuff a web app into a Win32 shell.

"Lying"? Please don't throw such harsh insults at people without some facts and evidence to support your claims. Compared to desktop Outlook, which I actually quite like, almost anything would be "more agile and easier to add features."

I suspect you're referring not to the current Desktop Outlook, which is where MS' focus is, but to one of the other MS mail programs. Yes, they do plan to phase out those other mail MS programs too in the interest of standardization, which I think is a good thing. I also don't believe the free mail program included with Windows is particularly strong. It may be better for touch and pen then alternatives, but it's a fairly weak and useless program in terms of mail features. It's the Notepad of mail apps -- included with Windows so there's some innate way to do email included with the OS.

As much as I love using Desktop Outlook for all its features, it is also old, bloated, and slow. I don't know that I'd be willing to trade it for a more agile version, unless they included at least the majority of its power features that I use constantly, but it's nearly inconceivable that they couldn't hit the bar, in your words, of "more agile and easier to add features." So, on the contrary, rather than believe they're lying, I think that's an obviously true statement.
 
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GraniteStateColin

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Unifying the experience across platforms is an admirable goal, but doing so requires actually taking the best of what is available in each version. On my desktop, I use the classic Outlook app and have mastered it's capabilities. On my surface, I use Windows Mail and Calendar because of its swiping capability, as Classic Outlook is difficult on a smaller touch device. But I also have to run Classic Outlook in parallel on the Surface when I need to use a mailing list I've created, since that capability is missing from Windows Mail. In other words, it's a mess that has needed fixing for a long time. I suspect Microsoft gets most of its feedback from IT folks who are much more concerned with easy implementation than actual functionality.

Certainly possible that they will fail here, but their stated goal is to merge the strengths of the two. Like you, I currently need Desktop Outlook for its many features not available anywhere else. But without a doubt, it is bloated and poor for pen and touch usage. IF (granted, that may be a big if) they succeed at making a lighter Outlook that still preserves at least some way to do most of what Desktop Outlook does and improving the UI for pen and touch, that would be great.
 

GraniteStateColin

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Microsoft will replace Fast, Light, touch&pen friendly native Mail & Calendar apps with the new terrible, slow, heavy, pen&touch unfriendly web tech based Outlook app in 2024 that doesn't even work in background and use 500mb of Ram for nothing.

The native Mail & Calendar is not a serious app. It's a throw away included with Windows so the OS has some basic mail features and an alternative way to provide calendar access to their Outlook.com service. Building a new app that brings some of the power of desktop Outlook to a free version, eliminating confusing redundancy (like they never did with Teams and Skype), and conversely solving the biggest problem with desktop Outlook with code going back to Windows 3.1 of it just being too bloated for them to continue to improve is a great thing.

Now, they may fail on the execution so skepticism is warranted, but as a goal and what they claim they're doing in that video all sounds good.
 

Iamdumbguy

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I also don't believe the free mail program included with Windows is particularly strong. It may be better for touch and pen then alternatives, but it's a fairly weak and useless program in terms of mail features. It's the Notepad of mail apps -- included with Windows so there's some innate way to do email included with the OS.
I don't think that just because they've half-assed the built-in apps for years, that half-assing a website into a Win32 shell is a solution. I think this is still the case, but the built-in apps will not sync with all IMAP providers. I remember trying Fastmail a few years ago and the calendar and contacts would not sync because Microsoft only allows certain providers.

As much as I love using Desktop Outlook for all its features, it is also old, bloated, and slow.
They could rewrite it. They could have spent the last fours years doing that instead of-I will die on this hill-stuffing a website into a Win32 shell. Outlook is decades old. Since then they've released several UI frameworks that they claim are production-ready. Why should we not demand a native WinUI solution for Windows? Why should we have less than macOS users get?
 

Iamdumbguy

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The native Mail & Calendar is not a serious app. It's a throw away included with Windows so the OS has some basic mail features and an alternative way to provide calendar access to their Outlook.com service. Building a new app that brings some of the power of desktop Outlook to a free version, eliminating confusing redundancy (like they never did with Teams and Skype), and conversely solving the biggest problem with desktop Outlook with code going back to Windows 3.1 of it just being too bloated for them to continue to improve is a great thing.

Now, they may fail on the execution so skepticism is warranted, but as a goal and what they claim they're doing in that video all sounds good.
Why is MS developing thow away apps? And why should I ever trust a company happy to make throw away apps?
 

GraniteStateColin

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Why is MS developing thow away apps? And why should I ever trust a company happy to make throw away apps?

Same reason every smart phone comes with a calculator. It's just such a basic function that, in this case, the OS maker feels they need to include something. Plus, in MS' case, they want to provide support for their Outlook.com service.

You mentioned IMAP in another post above. I do believe that's an essential function of a broad mail program. All my mail is Exchange or Outlook.com connected, so it doesn't matter to me, but both POP3 and IMAP4 are required in a full-featured mail program. I'm near certain these will both be included before it's considered feature complete.

By the way, you've described the new Outlook as a web wrapper, but I don't believe that's what it is. I've downloaded it and tried. I reverted because it was missing features I need in Desktop Outlook, but it did not behave like a web app. Performance was excellent compared with desktop Outlook (much faster and more responsive). It also looked better than desktop Outlook and displayed wide messages with graphics far better (desktop Outlook will leave messages super wide so they don't fit in the viewing window if there's a large image embedded in the message, new Outlook doesn't suffer that bug). That said and to be fair, if it were a high-functioning PWA without the Edge chrome around it, I may not be able to tell the difference, so I admit I may be wrong on this.
 

DontBeEvil10

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The native Mail & Calendar is not a serious app. It's a throw away included with Windows so the OS has some basic mail features and an alternative way to provide calendar access to their Outlook.com service. Building a new app that brings some of the power of desktop Outlook to a free version, eliminating confusing redundancy (like they never did with Teams and Skype), and conversely solving the biggest problem with desktop Outlook with code going back to Windows 3.1 of it just being too bloated for them to continue to improve is a great thing.

Now, they may fail on the execution so skepticism is warranted, but as a goal and what they claim they're doing in that video all sounds good.
Nothing they couldn't have done with MAil, thye just had to really work on it and adding features ... and it's serious enough for me, I use it and it worked since day 0
 

GraniteStateColin

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Nothing they couldn't have done with MAil, thye just had to really work on it and adding features ... and it's serious enough for me, I use it and it worked since day 0

That's fine. Dan Rubino here talks about loving WordPad. I use Paint almost daily for quick screen capture mark-ups when sending feedback to my developers, because it's faster than going into a real art app (but I'd never use Paint for anything serious beyond those quick markups). But if I were advising MS, I would absolutely say to reduce the complexity of their product structures, eliminating duplication and their associated maintenance costs where possible. Those are confusing to users and a huge drag on the speed at which MS can innovate and add new features. The built-in mail serves no real purpose IF there is a free version of Outlook available that better supports touch (current Desktop Outlook is not terrible at touch -- I use it with touch all the time on my HP Spectre, but it could be better). And that's what they're doing, which is a good thing as long as they don't break it.

They're not going to take away either the built-in Mail & Calendar app nor Desktop Outlook until the new free Outlook supports at least the lion's share of their respective features.
 

DontBeEvil10

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That's fine. Dan Rubino here talks about loving WordPad. I use Paint almost daily for quick screen capture mark-ups when sending feedback to my developers, because it's faster than going into a real art app (but I'd never use Paint for anything serious beyond those quick markups). But if I were advising MS, I would absolutely say to reduce the complexity of their product structures, eliminating duplication and their associated maintenance costs where possible. Those are confusing to users and a huge drag on the speed at which MS can innovate and add new features. The built-in mail serves no real purpose IF there is a free version of Outlook available that better supports touch (current Desktop Outlook is not terrible at touch -- I use it with touch all the time on my HP Spectre, but it could be better). And that's what they're doing, which is a good thing as long as they don't break it.

They're not going to take away either the built-in Mail & Calendar app nor Desktop Outlook until the new free Outlook supports at least the lion's share of their respective features.
Outlook as "features" is welcome, Outlook as slow, heavy, pen&touch unfriendly that doesn't work offline and doesn't receive notifications when doesn't actually run in background is not, simply they should have used native tech, but they're lazy as hell.
 

GraniteStateColin

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Outlook as "features" is welcome, Outlook as slow, heavy, pen&touch unfriendly that doesn't work offline and doesn't receive notifications when doesn't actually run in background is not, simply they should have used native tech, but they're lazy as hell.

Outlook is the most powerful offline mail program on the planet by a wide margin. That I can say definitively. When I know that I won't have an Internet connection for several hours, I'll often make sure my traveling laptop has been on for a minute so I know that Outlook is sync'd for offline use, and it's all automatic in the background. Other than needing to be online to download and upload messages, there is nothing the user needs to do. But if you have a slow connection, the user can choose various partial download (headers only, first several lines, etc.) and upload options to work with those too. You can even specify the download order or specific folders if you don't have the bandwidth available to download everything. There is NOTHING in the same league as Outlook in terms of features and power, including especially for offline and various online speeds and latency configurations. The other criticisms are a mixed bag.

For pen, poor to fair. It does support Inking in messages, which is excellent (and arguably the most important component of Pen support, depending on your personal needs), but navigation with pen and filling in fields is no better than apps that don't support Pen at all (works like a mouse and uses the standard Ink handwriting boxes to fill in text).

For touch, it's... subjective? :) I use it with touch daily. The only real problem for touch is that the touch points are fairly small, because it was not designed from the start specifically for touch, but it does make them larger for touch than for mouse and everything scrolls, zooms, etc. as you'd expect for multi-finger touch (even has a modified version of that nice stretch/bounce effect at the end of scrolling the list of messages, folders, calendars, etc.). It's OK, but not great. It is MUCH BETTER for touch than a program that is not at all designed for touch.
 
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DontBeEvil10

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I was talking about the "new outlook" that will replace Mail of course... I know the "classic" Outlook good, that's great when you have to work with emails a lot and in huge amount, not complaining about it, I can understand if the "classic" outlook is primarly focused on mouse & keyboard.

so now we will have a slower, heavier, touch&pen unfriendly, non working offline and background Outlook replacing Mail,

and a less features, non working offline and background Outlook replacing full Outlook.
 
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