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Get a peek at the upcoming enhancements for Outlook

Some businesses have a difficult time wrapping their heads around the automatic cloud-powered updates for the Microsoft Office 365 productivity suite. Amaxra consultants are very aware of how one team in your organization can't wait for the day a new update comes down from the cloud while another team is dreading that same update.

Imagine you spend the majority of your workday using Microsoft Outlook, sending emails, setting up meetings, and managing your customers from your Outlook contacts. It's difficult to strike a balance between the "here's a very useful new feature in Outlook" and "everything in Outlook just changed and now I can't find anything" perception of updates—especially when the goal of that Outlook update is to enhance your productivity.

What's nice about the cloud is that users easily can preview new features in Office 365 and give feedback directly to Microsoft. Some users of Outlook might already have noticed the "Coming Soon" option appeared in the upper-right corner recently. By switching the Coming Soon toggle to the right, you can get a no-hassle preview of the upcoming feature enhancements making their way into Outlook: 

A window into what's next for Microsoft Outlook

The Coming Soon feature gives you a temporary sneak peek of the new enhancements coming to Outlook. However, you shouldn't think of this preview as Microsoft asking you to be their Guinea Pig for some experimental feature. All of the new features you'll see in Outlook after turning on Coming Soon are enhancements that Microsoft have committed to bringing on a publicly-available timetable. That means these features will go live in the future and your experience in the Coming Soon preview won't be testing some buggy, "garage-grade" software. The purpose is to provide you a window of time to try those enhancements out on your own schedule and then share your feedback with Microsoft before the changes become permanent.

There are two types of enhancements that you'll notice once your turn on Coming Soon:

  1. A simplified ribbon – If you're someone that gets lost because there are too many options in the ribbon menu in Outlook, then you will now have the option to collapse the ribbon into a single row of most commonly used commands. The ribbon will also be more customizable, allowing you to pin and remove commands from the ribbon based on your personal preferences. Of course, you can still expand the ribbon back to the classic ribbon at any time
  2. User interface (UI) tweaks – These updates are a bit more subtle than the ribbon, but you'll notice there are more high-contrast icons and colored text in the Outlook UI. These updates are seen in the folder pane, message list, message, and calendar read/compose screens. The goal is to make everything look more clean, simple, and easier to use.

Nothing to install because it comes from the cloud

The Coming Soon toggle is not available for every Outlook user. Because these are updates delivered to Outlook via the cloud, Microsoft will not make these feature enhancements available to users who purchased the on-prem software licenses for Office 2016. As of this blog post's publication, Microsoft is in the process of turning on the Coming Soon toggle only to Outlook 365 users who meet the requirements. If you don't see the Coming Soon toggle, then you'll need to check if you have the following Windows and Office software updates installed:

  • 2018-09 Update for Windows 10 Version 1803
  • 2018-09 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1803
  • Office 365 Monthly Channel (Targeted) Version 1809 (Build 10827.20084)

If you don't have these updates installed, then check with your IT team first.

Maximize your Office 365 ROI with these new features

For so many people in the modern workforce, Outlook is an essential app. It's on all of our laptops, tablets, and phones. While these new features are bound to streamline and enhance the Outlook experience, there is always room for improvement. As more features get added to Outlook and other business-critical Office 365 apps such as Excel and Word, some organizations can feel lost when it comes to using Office 365 to its full potential.

To ensure your employees are getting the most out of Office 365 (and therefore maximizing your return on investment), consider Amaxra QuickHelp online training. It is self-paced online training for individual Office 365 users that is customized for your organization's specific productivity needs. If you haven't already jumped on the Office 365 bandwagon, then you should find out what you're missing by attending one of our Office 365 Hands-On Labs. These events are designed for busy executives and operations managers to understand the capabilities of Office 365 and how a cloud-powered Office 365 solution aligns with your business objectives. 

Contact us at licensing@amaxra.com or call 425 749 7471 for a no-obligation consultation on how we can help you get more value from your software investment.

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