Microsoft started to roll out an option to test a new beta version of the company's Outlook.com web mail interface yesterday.
The new version of Outlook.com promises to be faster, smarter and more personalized than before.
All Outlook.com users -- in fact, all Microsoft Account customers -- may join the beta and leave it again -- provided that the beta toggle is already visible when they open the Outlook web interface. Microsoft announced that it rolls out access to the beta over time, but did not provide a timeframe for the roll out.
Those who don't see the beta switch on Outlook right now may load https://outlook.live.com/mail/ to test the new interface temporarily only.
Note: The new interface that is loaded through the URL comes with a beta toggle. Don't use it, as you will be opted-out of the beta and cannot use the URL anymore to load it. Since the URL signs you in temporarily, you won't be able to use the URL again if you use the toggle.
So, what is new in the first August 2017 Beta release of Outlook.com?
The Outlook team lists three things that have been improved in particular:
A faster experience -- Outlook.com Beta comes with a "more responsive web development framework", an optimized look with a "modern conversation style", and a new "design to let you see, read and attach files and photos faster".
One of the improvements of the new version is a preview feature that shows file and photo previews in the conversation list.
A smarter inbox -- The inbox shows suggestions as you type. Microsoft lists information about restaurants, flights, or team schedule's as examples that Outlook users may add to their conversations. Also, there is a new photos option that provides you with access to all photos sent or received, and easier sharing.
I tried the new quick suggestions feature but could not get it to work, even when using the example that Microsoft's Outlook team used to highlight the feature.
Better personalization -- You can add people and folders to the favorites on Outlook.com for faster access. Another new feature is Expressions. It lists emoji and GIFs that you can add to your messages.
A click on the smiley icon in the interface opens the Expressions sidebar. There you find listed popular emoji and GIF.
Microsoft wants to add new features to the beta version in the coming months. The Outlook team mentioned updates to the Calendar and People features of Outlook.com explicitly.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.