Outlook.com – the sleeping giant arises with new features

You may have heard that the Gmail Android app has recently hit 1 billion downloads. Which is actually not so surprising, as Google has been continuously amazing us with new features and changes to their email client over the past years. Outlook.com however, has just implemented new features that seem to say – that the game isn’t over yet. Let’s take a closer look and see what the buzz is all about.

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Hotmail aka Outlook.com

Last year Microsoft has made a strategic decision to merge their popular desktop email client Outlook with the web version, called Hotmail, under one common name – Outlook.com. The change came in with a new fresh design and was followed by other solutions (e.g. easier account transfer from Gmail) that aimed to convince users to make a switch from their currently used email program.

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Advanced Rules

The changes in the design made the email program much simpler to use and moved it a bit closer to Gmail, which is known for its great user experience. However, Outlook.com isn’t just a pretty face. The newly introduced Advanced Rules seem to be very interesting and might just help Outlook.com gain some market share in this very competitive industry.

Mike Schackwitz, lead program manager for Outlook, explains in a blog post what the new implementations include:

“With Advanced Rules, you now have more control over how your emails are sorted, filed or bumped to the top of your inbox. You can create multi-condition and multi-action rules and set your inbox to organize itself automatically. Advanced Rules allow you to combine your existing rules together and customize them to suit you. We’ve included a number of optional conditions that are unique to Outlook.com, including time constraints, email tallying, checking read/unread state of emails, and checking if the sender is a contact you know.”

An example of such a rule would be – If an unread email is older than 3 days and is from one of your contacts, mark it as important and flag it. Now that sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

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Undo

Another nifty addition, but perhaps less spectacular, as it’s already available in some other email programs, is the newly introduced Undo feature that let’s you go back and e.g. restore deleted email. Simply click the undo button, or type Ctrl+Z/Cmd+Z, to bring them back to where they had just been.

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In-line Reply

Similarly to Gmail, Outlook.com developers decided to make it easier for their users to reply to their messages. By creating the in-line reply you no longer have to open an entirely new window to get back to your family and friends. It saves you time and makes it easier to track your conversations to never miss out on the important bits.

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Chat

Another thing that’s undergone a redesign is the personal messaging feature offered by Outlook.com. As Microsoft’s developer noted, their users have been finding it difficult to initiate chat sessions with their friends, which made them turn their heads towards the problem and make a couple of improvements to the user experience.

First of all, they’ve moved recent conversations and contacts to chat with towards the bottom left of the inbox, similarly to what you can see in Gmail accounts. All you have to do is one simple click and you’ll begin a chat session with your friends or family members.

Secondly, If you’re chatting with a friend on one service you can now easily switch to another if you want to in e.g. continue the conversation over Skype from the inside of your inbox. You can also filter people by the service they’re using (Skype, Facebook, etc.) and see who’s available for Video, Call, or chat.

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If you still haven’t seen these changes introduced to your own email client don’t worry, they’ll be slowly implemented over the next couple of weeks. If you’re using another email client however, the advanced rules may be worth making a switch if you’re not completely satisfied with your current provider. Give them a try and let us know what you think in the comments section.