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A few weeks ago, we kicked off a blog series highlighting the new experiences and services you’ll see in Windows 8.1.
Today Kipling Knox, Group Program Manager for the Windows Communication Apps, will introduce you to the new mail experience for Windows 8.1—and it is the best email experience on any tablet. I have been using the Mail app with my Outlook.com email account and love the seamless functionality of the local and cloud experiences. I hope you will too.
Ryan GavinGeneral ManagerMicrosoft Apps & Services
Delivering the best email experience on any tablet
When we began working on the Mail app for Windows 8.1, we had a lot of customer feedback to consider. We also recognized that people use email today in many different ways than they have in the past, and that the email service you use can make all the difference. For us, that meant ensuring that the Mail app truly takes advantage of the Outlook.com service. It also led us to optimize the Mail app in Windows 8.1 for a modern mail experience—one that is efficient on mobile devices, built for touch, integrated into your whole life, and designed for the types of mail that matter most to you.
Mobile devices and touch are already becoming the preferred way to access email
It’s been exciting to see phones, tablets and other mobile devices grow rapidly in popularity, and to reimagine Windows as the best experience for these devices. As you’d probably guess, email is one of the most frequently performed activities for consumers on a tablet. When we take a closer look at mobile usage, we’ve seen some interesting trends emerge:
So it’s critical for Mail to work beautifully and powerfully on tablets along with other devices.
Building for touch brought a wide range of improvements across the Mail app in Windows 8.1. There are easier ways to select one or more messages by using checkboxes in the message list. You can also drag-and-drop messages into folders—one of the most common requests we’ve had from consumers. You’ll also notice that the app bar now has a visible preview, which makes it easier to access with either mouse or touch. And the app bar is now organized more logically so you can more quickly access new features.
We’ve also invested heavily in making sure that all the most common email tasks work great. From opening messages, to searching mail on the server, to syncing all your mail across all folders—these are all as quick and reliable as you’d expect them to be. We’ve also made sure that this improved performance doesn’t come at the expense of system resources like battery life and network bandwidth.
Of course you can do serious work with an attached mouse and keyboard, and we’ve adapted our UI for that too, including hover commands on the message list, for example. But more and more people use touch to email—quickly triaging their inbox, catching up on mail from friends, and browsing through newsletters or updates from social networks—so we took special care to ensure that experience is great as well.
Great for your whole life
In a world of mobile devices like tablets, there’s an increasingly narrow distinction between your “work computer” and your “personal computer.” More and more people are bringing their personal tablets to work, and their work laptops home. Windows 8.1 is designed for this world, equally suited for your work life and your personal life. The Mail app is no exception—it’s designed to be great for your whole life.
In this update to Mail, we’ve optimized for using both work and personal email accounts, without having to switch apps or go to the web. This feature makes it simple to set up, monitor, and toggle between different email accounts. And we’ve added advanced multi-account features, like the ability to change the return address of your email if a message was sent to the wrong account. You’ll also find support for advanced IT policies (like authenticated proxies and special certificates), thanks to our complete implementation of the EAS protocol. This means you can bring your device to work, and still meet the requirements of your company’s network.
Designed for the email that matters to you
These days, most of us get very different and distinct types of email—newsletters, daily deals, social updates, and personal messages, and in fact, more than 80% of email in your inbox is commercial mail. While that mail can be valuable and interesting, it also means that it can be easy to miss messages from important people. So we asked ourselves how we could help automatically organize your inbox, sorting out messages by type, and create customized views of the email that’s most important to you. To meet this goal in Windows 8.1, we added a new toolbar to Mail on the left-hand side: what we affectionately call the power pane.
As soon as you set up a new account, Mail analyzes your inbox and identifies people with whom you communicate frequently. You’ll see these people marked as favorites in the People view. If you open up the People view menu (just click the “People” link under the icon), you’ll see even more people suggested as favorites. Click on a person, and you see all the email you’ve exchanged with them, across your folders. If you click the People icon, you’ll see all the email from all your favorites. This is a helpful way to track email just from people who you’ve marked as important—and filter out email from everyone else. The People view adapts over time, based on your email habits (though once you mark someone as a favorite, that label sticks until you change it). So you might not see a lot of people in this view at first, but over time, it will fill out to capture your most important communications.
Mail enables you to mark folders as favorites, too. Just open the folder menu and click the stars for the folders you want to place on the power pane. Then you can drag and drop messages to these folders without having to navigate a long list of folders each time. You can also access and drag messages to your complete folder list at any time.
And if you use Outlook.com for your email, the mail experience gets even better:
Let us know what you think
So if you ask us what’s most interesting about this update to the email experience on Windows 8.1, we’ll say that we think it’s the best email experience for tablets. But at the same time, we worked hard to make it the most complete email experience possible—one that spans your whole life, works equally well across different devices, provides custom views and powerful tools for staying up-to-date and organized, and delivers on the fundamentals. We hope you agree, and we encourage you to keep the feedback coming!
Kipling KnoxGroup Program ManagerWindows Communication Apps
Why does syncing for Gmail take so long? It takes 12 minutes to receive a message that on an iPad is almost instantaneous. If Apple can make it work, why can't Microsoft? Yes, I use the Any time setting, because I want access to all of my email. Even in the help file for Mail app for Windows it says the following for the Any time setting: 'Your email might take a very long time to sync.' My question is why? Sure, it would take a while the first time you set it up, but thereafter, it should be fast, not 12 minutes for each email. I'd even be willing to reduce it to the last 6 months worth of email, but the app doesn't provide such an option. Come on. This is ridiculous. What can I do to make it faster?
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Microsoft Mail 8.1 app: Upgraded from Win 8 pro to Win Pro 8.1. Cannot connect to my exchange server 2007. because now it does not like my self-sign exchange certificate after a year of no problems what so ever. (does not work on several win8.1 devices/pc's). If I use the certificate on any another windows 8.0 pro device or PC it works like a charm. Why? Fix This!!!
Just updated and do not like the email experience. Why can I not remove the icons (social, flags, newsletters) that I don't use and have my files (which I do use) show without needing two clicks. I don't mind change but I much prefer to customize in a way that makes sense for me rather than being forced into a way that makes sense to you. Extremely disappointed.
Earlier this month, I asked:
"Can this latest version of the Mail App for Windows 8.1 print out a single page or a range of pages of an email yet?"
And the answer is no, it can't. Sigh.
Wow. Just WOW!
The main principle should be that outlook.com and mobile Outlook apps. completely and perfectly duplicate the functionality of Desktop Outlook, with support for things like Categories for Contacts and Tasks, and subdirectories for Contacts and Tasks. Until all Outlook instances everywhere look and behave the same, and have and support the exact same features -including full support and synch with Gmail- , it will be an unfinished endeavor. I, for one, cannot embrace the complete Outlook environment until that happens, because my life is in Outlook Desktop, and I critically need all Outlook instances everywhere to behave the same.
Moving email to a new folder in WP8 still shows up as unread in outlook.com and WP8. Can't fathom why proper syncing remains an issue.
and really thanks microsoft for windows 8.1 and this nice app for our email but :
Why We Cant Add the Two Step Verification Email (Gmail Or Outlook And LiveMail) to this app on windows 8 or windows 8.1.
when we add two step verification email into this app this app couldnt be to show there email and give us error to enter you password to active you email but when we enter our password again and again it cant and wont be able to show there email
please help us how to add two step verification email to this app
thanks microsoft again
Ok, I love Windows 8, even mor 8.1 preview, but, here in Ecuador this great things about Windows are not abailable, Smart Glass, how the music App Works, etc, you should enable this world wide, and add methods of payment for the apps, you should add pay pal for every country
I can't wait to try it! :D And please, I beg of you, go over to the Windows Phone team's office and show them this... Outlook app (or rather, email app, or whatever it is called) on Windows Phone is very poor in features. All of this splendour will be useless to all of us who have a range of Windows devices, from PC to phones and tablets. I want to see this sexiness on my Lumia! :)
In my case, the app does not look like that nice like on those pictures. :-( picasaweb.google.com/.../DXDC_jU4HMZBRFGbebQU6tMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0
All that work you all did, and yet I still cannot sort my email so that I can read it in the order it was received! I cannot be the only person in the world who reads their email in order.
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I appreciate the suggestion to let Outlook.com collect my PoP3 mail. That however mixes that mail in with the Outlook.com mail. I have different accounts for a reason and don't want them all mixed together in one inbox. I don't use linked inboxes on my WP for that same reason, though I see there are people here that want that. WP handles the PoP3 just fine BTW. I suppose I could create another Outlook.com account and use it for only that PoP3 service. (it would of course collect spam of its own to add to the PoP3 spam)
Anyone know off-hand if you reply to a PoP3 email that your Outlook.com acct collected, where does that mail come from, Outlook, or the PoP3 email address?
Thanks for the response! Can't wait to try it out, it seems like a lot of thoughtful work went into this update.
Great, thanks a lot !
but above all, please, could you work on a solution for DRAG & DROPing from DESKTOP to MUI / Outlook app (email attachments) ?
That would enable productivity.
These changes are great. However, there are still a couple of features missing that would allow me to use the new mail app as my default app (instead of the Desktop version of Outlook)... Please provide "Unread Mail" and "Today's Items" folders. I use these special folders more than any other in Outlook and having the ability to turn them on/off in the new mail app would let me make the switch comfortably.
Can this latest version of the Mail App for Windows 8.1 print out a single page or a range of pages of an email yet? Up until now, it's never been possible to do this.
The Internet Explorer team has fixed this issue for IE11, it would be nice if the Mail App team at last got their act together and fixed it for the Mail App.
sadly, the fact I have to swipe from the bottom every time to bring up a toolbar which for reasons unknown, Microsoft refuses to let people pin or dock, I cannot use this app. It is too inefficient like its predecessor and causes me to work more on operating the UI than to work on my mail. This is precisely the reason windows 8 is so daunting to use. While people pick up ipads and android tablets and just use them without any prior experience, Microsoft hidden toolbar UIs keep me going back to outlook RT even as I would rather not use that over the mail app.
I know it's part of the standards and all, but the hidden UI should be an option for those of us that don't want to spend 50% of the time getting to the commands that are so important that merit a toolbar button. Besides, this is mail, not a video player. Have some sensitive trade offs guys. The 2 or 3 listview items and the 5 lines of text you give me in return for stealing my toolbar every 5 seconds makes your app incredibly frustrating to use...as does most of the windows 8 apps that follow your hidden UI game.
please, fix it.
Please please please please please tell me there are mail groups now !!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? The lack of ability to use mail groups is the single most irritating thing about the mail app!
Awesome. Looking forward to some of the features your bringing forth.
Please give us Pop3 support for the mail app.
I can add a send/receive account, I'd prefer not to have everything stored Microsoft side.
Kind of limited with that aspect, like to get more use to the metro interface as it's more
touch intuitive, however Outlook is going to pull you to the desktop.
People would start to switch over from their stranglehold they've held onto called desktop. Was kind of hesitant at first myself when I came into everything. Add flash support to the touch internet explorer and we can get rollin'
I gave up on Microsoft email apps after MS started constant features removing and UI changes. From Outlook Express to Windows Mail to Live Mail with Live Mail with Ribbon to this, it's been such a bumpy side full of compromises the end user has to make with features that I switched to an excellent third party email client.
Here's some advice to Microsoft: if you really want people to your Modern apps, try to main full feature continuity of Live Essentials at least.
One thing I miss in Outlook.com and Windows 8 mail app; to attach an email in compose. This is only present in Outlook client for desktop. Please add a drag-drop support to attach email in an email. And an email selector under attachment button both on outlook app and outlook.com. The attach email should attach the whole conversation with all the nested attached files in it (like happen in Outlook desktop version).
I missed another important issue:
Will it be possible in Windows 8.1 to set the Mail app as the default desktop mail client? I find it very frustrating that I can't mail files from inside File Explorer in 8.0. I tried to set up Mail as the default program for all mail protocols but it never showed up and the "Mail" command in Explorer is still inactive.
I hope you fix that in 8.1
A lot of great improvements but the additional app bar preview is a huge mistake, IMO.
You are writing: "the app bar now has a visible preview, which makes it easier to access with either mouse or touch." Is that true? I don't think so. There are several reasons why this is a very bad decision:
- people may think that they have to tap on the app bar preview to open it with touch. That is much more difficult than swiping over the edge. Especially on smaller devices the hit target is very small
- it looks like on Windows Phone but works completely different
- it is confusing because some apps can't have this preview but still have an app bar (every app with a horizontal scroll bar can't have this preview)
- it looks like the vertical screen divider from Windows 8.x. People may think that they can slide this bar and have multiple apps vertically
- you teach people to right-click to open the app bar. But now you introduce another method for left-click.
- I have used the RTM version of the calendar app. There the app bar preview is on top but the important buttons are at the bottom. Means mouse users may move their mouse two times over the entire screen for basic actions.
I would really like to know why you have decided that some apps need this preview. I think it is a terrible mistake and will start to confuse the users. Please don't introduce new things to learn. Just teach your users the simple rules of Windows 8.0. You are bringing a nice Help+Tips app with 8.1 but at the same time you update your core apps with UI elements that conflict with your help and tips documentation.
michaelljones - thanks for helping out!
arrow22 - Yes, the picture attachment viewing experience has improved. When using the built in photo viewer, you can iterate through all the pictures that you’ve downloaded.
Also, the Mail app will go into the minimal size mode and give over most of the screen space to the photo viewer, so that you can also tap on the thumbnail in the original mail note if you want to jump forward vs. iterating (or if you’re using a different photo viewing app).
When possible we also pre-emptively download your attachments (e.g., when you’re on power) so that the photos will be already available for viewing. If you need, there’s a download all button to download any attachments not already present.
Take a look at this screenshot: blogs.windows.com/.../MailViewAttachments.jpg
I'm using RTM version of Win 8.1 now and I like several improvements of the new Mail app. One biggest improvement that not mentioned in the blog is that you can open mail in new window, which means you can view / edit several mails side by side (although the number is limited by the screen resolution). That's very helpful when I want to create a new mail that related to other mails and want to check them while editing. Another feature I like is the visible preview of app bar, that's extremely useful when remote accessing a Win 8.1 computer from a Win8 tablet. I hope that can be a standard for all Win8.1 apps.
Now let me talk about something I don't like. 1. it seems that the default setting is that there is no notification when new mail comes. I think most users want to have notification. 2. If I add all my other emails to my Exchange account, even if I send email from other email address, I can still see my real name in the From field. Although it seems that the receiver will not see my real name, it still feels quite uncomfortable, because it's possible that I want to send the mail anonymously, and with Mail app, I'm not sure if that's the way I want. I hope that the From and To field can show the name from the address book / setting of that specific account by default. 3. I hope that flag folder can show all the flagged mails, even they're earlier than the "Download email from" setting. Because this folder is special, usually user want to see all instead of the most recent.
Has the experience improved for viewing picture attachments?
My first time using a Surface RT to show pictures located in old emails was embarrassing, to say the least. Once I found the email, I had to individually click on every single attachments to get them to load a preview, and upon opening a photo, it would go to the Photo app. At that point, you can't simply swipe left or right to move along the photos in the email. You have to go back to the email app, click on the next picture and repeat.
The person I was with simply asked: "What tablet is that? It's terrible!". And I agree. Doesn't anyone run through these workflows to make sure they work efficiently before releasing apps?
rosskoes05 - I think you are confused on the purpose of this "From the Start" series. The apps and services we're blogging about as part of this series will be part of Windows 8.1 when it becomes available publicly to customers on Oct. 18th. The Mail app as mentioned in this post will be there - "from the start" - when you get Windows 8.1 on Oct. 18th. Thanks for your comment.
I am using mail app on windows 8 and the app works great.
Great! Can't wait to use it daily.
One comment though; why isn't the menu preview a WinRT API standard? Or is it now?
Why can't I use the groups I have in Outlook.com. That should be a no-brainer for Microsoft in their own email tool. That is my biggest complaint.
To Kipling and team:
I'm sure it's better than the current app. Drag and Drop was a must have feature that should have been in the original product. Will have to get the new app before any of us can comment on new/missing features (I'm waiting to see how well the app works in variable split screen for instance)..
There are still pain point I think from the pictures and the current app I use:
I agree with Artt (he got to he before me) that the 'new e-mail' + button is still in the wrong place. It's metaphorically mixed with doing things in the current e-mail (reply and delete). These buttons should be in a different place, maybe at the top of the inbox. Likewise, once you move it you then have room to put in a proper 'forward' button since the current button it's loaded on looks like 'reply' and people feel like forward isn't there or is missing.
Also would like a way to pin the menu up if wanted (and have the UI adjust as necessary). The ellipses on the bottom ala WP8 is a nice touch in this direction, but power users need a little more flexibility.
Agree with another poster on better social integration. Outlook client does this today and need more going forward of some sort.
Need the ability to jump to calendar and contact straight from the mail app and vice versa. Can do this today on Outlook.com and in Outlook client, but not in your flagship mail service for tablets???!?!?
Some type of notification button for desktop users would also be nice as noted. Maybe a linked icon for the start bar that shows e-mails received and lets you open the e-mail client with a click of it. Would be nice if that open from the desktop made it open spit screen vs. full screen as well (or configurable to change behavior).
A linked inbox is nice, but not a necessity for me. Sometimes I find it confusing as to which account I'm using, so if you did one it needs to be very explicit about which account you are looking at. On WP, you have to click the message and pay attention to which account its in, which is inconvenient (and potentially disastrous).
Those are my thoughts at the moment from the pictures anyhow.
@Sven as @b4rtw mentioned, you can do POP with Outlook.com. We do this with my wife's as she has a business account that still runs on POP.
Instructions are here: windows.microsoft.com/.../other-email-accounts
Nice work guys, it's getting much better! Few questions/comments:
- why don't you mimic the outlook.com web UI more? For instance the location of the " + new email" button, the location of the search field... One Microsoft!
- any chance you're working on supporting the outlook.com categories?
- a bit of a dream but for those of us who are using W8 on a big 24" monitor, any chance that you allow these apps to run in a "window" mode in the desktop so we can see the number of unread message in an icon on the taskbar?
Most white collar workers spend around 40% of their work time using Outlook, so the client must be efficient, one cannot afford even a slight drop in productivity. That being said, there's still a lot to be improved, meaning you should integrate Outlook to Yammer and Sharepoint workspaces to make enterprise collaboration efficient also. Now hopping to browser & back creates too much overhead. Also, using social collaboration through Outlook would be a very good way to reduce change resistance towards new tools in more conservative corporations (which most of them are).
Also, add a dock to the WIN 8 tablets, that way one can use a mouse, keyboard, external display (24'') and the desktop version of Outlook when you are at your desk, that way you only need to own one device at the office (tablet with a dock port) instead of two (laptop + tablet) to do your job.
Let me know if you need insight into this, I'm on your customer side trying to push the things you develop to use, and it could be so much easier.
You really need to change the "right from the start" campaign thing you guys have going. IT WASN'T RIGHT FROM THE START.
Looks like a job well done! It puts the Mail app in Windows 8 to shame.
@Sven cant you just let Outlook.com gather your email?
The Mail app has much to live up to. If you compare the current app (17.4.9600.16384) to Outlook.com, it is missing the beautiful integration. If you compare it to Mail on Windows Phone, it is missing linked inboxes.
We will have to wait for the 18th to see how well you did, but I suspect there will be no reason to not use outlook.com directly.
To clarify a bit further... I have my email sorted on the server into folders based on sender, topic, and a few other criteria. Most email, I'll read and delete immediately, but some email I'll keep in the folder it was sorted into.
So when I go to read new email, I've got new and old messages in the folder. What I want to do is read (and usually delete) each new message in the order I received it. What happens is, if I delete my oldest unread email, I will then see the previous email (one I had kept in the folder previously) and NOT the next unread email.
In Outlook (and also iOS and pretty much EVERY other email client), I can sort my messages so that if I delete a message, I'll see the next one; not the previous one. I can't do that in the Mail app.
Brandon, what I want is to read an email, delete it, and see the next email I received. Instead, if I delete a message, I see the previous email I received. I want to read them (and delete them) in the order received, from earliest to most recent; not the reverse.
@perryman Do you mean top to bottom earliest to latest? Mine seems to be in receipt order, latest on top. I just scroll down to the last read and read up. Always have, even in Outlook. Personally can't stand conversation mode, or threaded, or whatever, and work hard to turn that off.
perryman - Can you elaborate? In the Mail app today my mail comes in and is sorted by the date in which it was received with newest mails on top, older mails going down. Is that not what you get?
Now, if only you supported Pop3 accounts, you would have made it irrelevent that you added Outlook to the desktop of Windows RT. On my Surface RT, or future smaller devices, I would much rather use the MUI interface to check my various accounts (as I do) except for that one damnable PoP3 account that I just can't divorce myself of. On the other hand, your not supporting PoP3, was a sort of catalyst to my considering how hard it would be to kick that legacy account to the curb. The darn thing is embedded in so much of my life though, it's proving quite a challenge.