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Microsoft

Microsoft Outlook for Windows is used by millions of people every day, to communicate and connect with others, to stay organized, and to get things done. It is a critical and essential piece of their day, with their email, schedules and meetings, people and contacts, tasks, groups, all in one place.

 

We know that change can be difficult, and its impact is felt when it touches your day as Outlook does for so many customers. In September 2018, Microsoft introduced user experience updates in Outlook  with a new Coming Soon feature allowing you to try the new experience at your convenience. The Coming Soon preview pane enables you to preview, read about and try out changes that are coming soon to Outlook email and calendar by turning on this experience with an on/off toggle. With the changes that can be previewed through the Coming Soon feature, we are bringing you the option of a simplified experience, and reapplying Microsoft design principles to make it cleaner and clearer. 

 

The Outlook user experience updates have been available through the Coming Soon for the last several months. With the Simplified Ribbon, you can customize it if you want different commands from the most frequently used and you can easily pin and remove items to personalize the experience to your work style. We updated the folder pane with new icons, text and alignment adjustments to make it easier to scan and find the folder you want. Subtle changes were made to the Message List providing more spacing between messages for easier readability and updates to recognize flagged items faster. Additional updates to the reading pane and when composing email include fewer visual distractions as well as an improved sequence when creating a New Appointment, where putting time before location provides smarter suggestions based on availability. We love that over a million customers tried the new experience with Coming Soon by turning it on right in the app.

   

Coming Soon - last chance.pngComing Soon - preview option

In addition to letting you choose when to try out the changes, Coming Soon also lets you provide us with feedback, and it’s been invaluable in helping us adjust the experience. At the top level, we simply asked, do these changes make Outlook better? Almost half a million users responded, with over three-quarters saying “yes,” often with further written comments expressing strong preference for the simpler, cleaner, more modern design, and the new simplified ribbon that streamlines the experience. For the majority of those giving us feedback, we were on the right track. However, even more valuable than the praise was the constructive feedback we got from those who felt we could do better.

 

What We Learned

The response has been great, and feedback has been positive on the update as well as Coming Soon itself as a means of introducing change. One recurring bit of feedback was about the changes to the spacing in the message list and around fields such as To, Cc, and Subject. These design changes were intended to make the list easier to scan with better separation between each message. However, doing so reduced the volume of emails visible on the screen at once, which a small percentage of customers strongly prefer.

 

Changes based on feedback

Based on this feedback, we're introducing the option for you to choose to Use Tighter Spacing on the View tab, learn more. Similar to switching between the Simplified and classic ribbon, you can switch between standard and Use Tighter Spacing, depending on what feels best. Over the coming weeks, the density setting option will be described in the Coming Soon section as an option you can try it out and provide feedback.

 

UX Use Tighter Spacing option cut.pngUse Tighter Spacing optionUX Message List spacing.pngMessage List spacing

UX tighter spacing compose.pngMessage compose spacing

We also want to remind you that all the user experience updates that have been described in Coming Soon over the last several months will soon be rolling out to all Monthly Channel customers. In May 2019, after rigorous rounds of validation and refinement, we will make the updates the default experience and no longer optional.

 

At that time, the Coming Soon button and toggle switch will also go away. However, given the positive feedback we received about using Coming Soon as a tool to introduce change, we plan to bring it back when we are ready to introduce another new set of changes to preview.

 

We are committed to continuing to improve the user experience and appreciate your feedback. We encourage you to try out the new user experience updates in Coming Soon in Outlook in the coming weeks. Moreover, we love your feedback – and want to continue to hear from you so the next time you see Coming Soon, you’ll have the confidence that we will continue to listen and learn. Please provide feedback in the coming weeks through the Coming Soon pane. And don’t forget that you can also continue to submit feedback to Outlook.uservoice.com

 

 

64 Comments
Contributor

Here's a bit of constructive criticism for you: When you're testing something like this, make it consistently available in your test builds, like Insider.

 

I saw the "Coming Soon" toggle last fall in Insider, but it vanished a couple months later. I saw enough that I knew a denser view was badly needed, so I'm glad that's coming, but it would have been nice to actually, you know, test it further in a build expressly designed for testing.

 

What you should have done is supplied a Registry entry (or something) to allow testers to enable/disable Coming Soon even absent the fabled toggle.

Microsoft

@Brian . 

Thank you for your feedback.  We rolled out the user experience as a preview in Coming Soon before the changes become the default experience.  In particular, the Coming Soon feature can help companies introduce change when it’s convenient, before changes become the default experience, and provides an opportunity to provide feedback so Microsoft can continue to listen and learn from customers.  We also encourage customers who would like to receive changes sooner to enroll in our Office Insider’s program.

 

I am not sure why your Coming Soon option disappeared, but it may have been due to the control we made available to administrators to manage the experience for their company.  Companies can prevent their users from having the Coming Soon option through group policy administration, or users can try the experience with the Coming Soon feature and turn to the classic experience at their convenience.  The control is available through a group policy, and you can find the instructions in our September blog: “If you're an admin, you can use a regkey to hide the Coming Soon feature in Outlook for Windows.  Learn more.”

Contributor

@Eugenie Burrage 

Hi, I was definitely aware of that from the other blog. That's not it, however, since the PC is not in a corporate environment. I also checked the policy ("not configured") and the Registry item (non-existent) just to be sure.

 

Unfortunately, there isn't the opposite of that policy: a way to force-enable it. That's what I need and should be made available, since the user should be able to opt in. I think features like this go away for some when it's rolled out for another ring (e.g. Targeted). MS is testing with different audiences at different times. But a build labeled "Insider" of all things probably should always be in the loop.

 

I've asked around: some on Insider still have "Coming Soon."  But some don't.

Contributor

I don't understand why MS continues to make discoverability of features harder. This reminds me of when Office 2003 started collapsing menus in apps (this is before the ribbon) and most users I dealt with just thought features vanished.

 

Same here. I see integrated features we use daily like moving emails to OneNote, or adding FindTime meeting polls are buried in the ellipses menu. How does hiding features and adding clicks make it easier for us?

 

This increases the load on IT teams and power users to go around and how people either how to expand and the "ribbon" or add their favorite items to the mini-ribbon.

 

I'm curious if you left it alone, but gave users the option to hide things (collapse the ribbon, move features to an ellipses style menu), how many would voluntarily do that? Instead it is always the reverse. "Let's hide a bunch of stuff, then let the local IT departments deal with it at the help-desk level."

 

And I've not tested this, but I'd wager these changes and customization are local to one machine only, and if a user gets a new machine or Office has to be reinstalled, all pref's would have to be manually made again? Or does this data get saved to the cloud so it is persistent on a per-user basis?

Contributor

Why doesn't Microsoft put effort into sorting out Drag and Drop to an O365 Group Mailboxes from Outlook instead of this....??!! #priorities
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Groups/New-Drag-and-drop-conversations-into-groups...

Occasional Contributor

As of which Outlook-for-Windows version number is this new "Tighter Spacing" feature present?

(I'd like to check whether we already received the update to that version).

@Paul_Van_Cotthem  It is the Build number that will drive whether or not you will get the tighter spacing feature. Please ensure that you have Build 11425 or later.

To check the Build number in Outlook for Windows:

  • In Outlook click on File
  • Click on Office Account
  • Under About Outlook you will see the Build number.  For example, Version 1903 (Build 11425.XXXXX).
Contributor

Since I can't test Coming Soon (only being on Insider), I can't make the determination if the "tighter spacing" gets us back to where we started before Coming Soon.  If not, it'll be disappointing, since that should have been the whole point. Yes, it's tighter than Coming Soon, but that's not saying much. It would have been helpful if you'd also included the original spacing in the screenshot.

@ Ed Hansberry
Thank you for your feedback.
The goal for the user experience updates in Outlook for Windows is to bring a simplified, more powerful experience to our customers. One of the ways we accomplished this was to update the command ribbon into a single row of most used commands, to help you focus on what matters and allow you to customize your experience. We introduced Simplified Ribbon as an option, keeping you in control of whether you wanted all your commands in a single row versus the classic three-level approach. You can easily pin and remove items to the ribbon from the ellipses to personalize the experience to your work style. We know from research and usage data that beyond a small set of very core features, the commands that are “daily” commands varies from person to person.

Your feedback about making changes consistent across devices is valid. We are working on moving several settings to the cloud eventually and are just now rolling out Focused Inbox as our first one.

Contributor

@The Outlook Team 

 

By way of explaining why "Coming Soon" isn't available on qualifying builds/channels of Outlook, can you maybe translate this for me (note that the comments were made in October, which was very early in the process)?  I don't understand it, and while it may not matter in the near term, "Coming Soon" will surely rise again. As you'll see, it clearly conflicts with the idea that if you're on channel X or build Y, you will have the toggle. It seems that it's more gray than that.

 

"Coming Soon will only be shown when there is a feature available that is part of the "Coming Soon" experience. If you are on a build that does not have any new features that fit into that experience, the toggle disappears. It will show back up again once there are more features that fit into that experience."

 

"If there isn't a feature being tested in your ring (Fast or Slow) that falls into these categories, or if the features that were in Coming Soon have been turned on for everyone without the option to turn them off, then the toggle will not show. As the new UX is now rolled out broadly, it is no longer a part of the "Coming Soon" feature set. There are not any other features currently in Insider Fast that change the look or feel, or functionality changes that can be toggled, so the toggle is not showing."

 

"The new UX rolled out to Insiders Slow in the 1809 build (see the What's New page with that information here) as well as production users (see here.) I do personally see the UX. Also, as with all Insiders features, things may come and go from build to build, may show up for some users and not for others. Things like Coming Soon are dynamically controlled based on what is available to you. "

Occasional Visitor

I have had the "Coming Soon" function on for several months. I was able to turn on the tighter spacing layout just fine, and like it. I'll continue using it. I am not, however, able to successfully try out the "Simplified Ribbon." I believe what I have underneath the full ribbon toolbar is called a "Quick Access Toolbar." There is no information in this blog post (or in the info at the hotlink in the "Coming Soon" info tab for it) that explains how these two things relate to each other. And I can't find information about how to try out the Simplified Ribbon. Frustrating. 

Contributor

Nothing to do with the Quick Access Toolbar, which is that tiny strip in the upper left of Office apps.

 

The so-called Simplified Ribbon is just the seriously different-looking (and working) Office ribbon that's across Office apps when you have "Coming Soon" toggled on (or, soon, forced on everyone regardless).

 

You can see it in the second screenshot above, or a lot more here:

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Outlook-Blog/Designed-for-Simplicity-User-experience-updates-...

Regular Visitor
Here's an idea: how about allowing us users to keep the look we have now if we want, and make the new look available to people only if they opt in to it? Here is more on that topic: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Outlook-Blog/New-Outlook-updates-enable-you-to-customize-your... Why does MSFT have to force this change on us? Why can I not continue to use Outlook in the way I want to use it, as the program I pay for?
Occasional Visitor

Please add controls specific to Outlook for text font color/size.  I am visually impaired, and the shaded fonts (non-solid black & white) do not work, nor does changing the whole desktop experience to high contrast; I just need to be able to set the font to solid black and background to solid white.  

 

I find that this is an issue across all sectors of computer/phone/device access; developers with great eye-sight develop a lot sites/applications with a lots of eye candy, which is great if you have 20/20 vision.  But as users age, we develop vision issues that render some app/sites unusable.  It would be great to have a switch that turns on high contrast for an app/site, much like the high-contrast extension in Chrome (doesn't work on all sites).

Contributor

Anyone else seeing a weird hybrid state of new and old right now?  Shortly after this week's 11702 build, but I don't think coincident with it, I went from the classic look to having what appears to be all the new elements--except the new ribbon and the (unwanted) looser spacing in the message column. I guess it's trickling out in pieces.

 

This is all with continuing to have, as usual, no sign of the "Coming Soon" button.

Frequent Visitor

In what alternate universe did anybody think that "looser" spacing is anything anybody would want?!  As soon as I got my update, I saw acres of white space on my screen, eaten up half-a-millimeter at a time by this new default "looser" spacing.  Thank heavens that I finally stumbled on the option to "use tighter spacing".  Why is this something that users have to actively seek out and turn on?  Why not leave the spacing along (there was nothing wrong with it in the first place -- who was complaining?), and then let people select "looser" spacing if that's what they really want?

Contributor

Especially since this looser spacing, unless merely some designer's aesthetic, seems specifically designed with touch in mind. It's hard not thinking that when looking at, say, what opening up the compose a new mail or calendar forms look like now.

 

Does anyone in their right mind use Outlook desktop with touch?

Occasional Visitor
I got myself worked up today because I encountered the "loose space" in my Outlook and thought it was because my display had some how become misconfigured. Sometimes I normally saw that behaviour when I'd remote in from my iPad and the display would change so at first I thought I was the cause. I even made this thread: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/msoffice_officeinsider-mso_win10-msoinsider_outlo... I got Office 365 support involved and I even reinstalled Office! I dont know why anyone would want this "touch" feature on Outlook for desktop. I understand that some users have laptop tablets but that should be an opt in function. Even with the "tigher space" there is still a lot of white space.
Occasional Visitor
I'm another one that was going crazy with the new spacing until I found the Use Tighter Spacing option. However, this option is NOT working with the compose email window. Please fix this ASAP!
Occasional Visitor

So apparently you implemented your changes last night, including widening the gap between every message. Here's a nifty "feature": If I select "tighter spacing" so my messages aren't sprawled all over the page, it makes the spacing in the "To-From-CC" section gigantic. If I click tighter spacing to tighten that up, it makes the spaces between the messages the size of a freeway.

 

Could you find a way to make the spacing tighter on BOTH? 

 

Why do you always mess with something that already works? Argh!

Frequent Visitor
Hi Eugenie, I really don't like these changes - they make Outlook even more of a confusing mess. Is there any way to revert to the previous look and feel? I really feel Microsoft actively tries to upset their customers putting through changes like this, rather than prioritising bugfixes and other issues. It's very disappointing to see a company that only listens to feedback that positively reinforces the changes they've already decided to force everyone to adopt.
Regular Visitor

I am just trying to understand who thinks its a good idea to push this junk out without allowing us to decide if we want it or not. I've spent the last few days wondering if my video driver is corrupt after my outlook screen that was working perfectly as it has for years all of a sudden turned into something either for a blind person or something else. The TO  and CC buttons are enormous now, and the colors and the buttons continue to look like it was designed by and for a child. 

 

I now have this | to the left of my unread messages seriously, someone really came up with these ideas ? were people really complaining that the layout and size of outlook fonts/spacing etc needed changes? why not make it an option instead of forcing it out on to all of us.

 

as a former i/t director i can't imagine anyone would want these updates pushed out like this and yet here we are.

 

the icons used to be nice and then were changes sometime last year to this horrible child like look with no option to put it back to the way it was. 

 

even after changing the setting to tighter the buttons when composing a message are still huge (and i would like it bac kthe way it was)

 

also in programs like word it now takes two and three steps to open a file because we just dont have the file open dialog anymore,.

 

really dumbfounded how these programs that shouldnt change much have been tinkered with to the point it annoys

Regular Visitor

and reading through the posts i see i am not the only one who is dumbfounded by the stupidty that is screwing up all of us who use outlook

 

Regular Visitor

Beyond all the aesthetic changes, most of which I’ve figured out how to deal with and make it look at least close-ish to how it did before (fortunately), it is now taking far longer to open up my Outlook and Excel than it did even a week ago. My Outlook used to open up within 10 seconds; now it’s taking half a minute or more.  Same with Excel. What’s the everliving deal with that?

Regular Visitor

I agree, these office 365 version of the apps are slow, all the back and forth traffic i assume verifying we are authorized to use it, then the multiple clicks to get to files directories, office 2007 is still way faster.

 

ed

 

Contributor

I lost my coming soon button today.  I have Version 1905 (Build 11629.20196) but can't find the tighter spacing option in the change view drop down as shown above.  Given my build is later than 11425, is my configuration messed up?

Regular Visitor

Found the regkey to change the 'Use Tighter Space'.

You can now use it in a GPO

https://www.itnmore.be/2019/06/05/registry-key-tighter-spacing-for-outlook/

Occasional Visitor

Yep, hate the spacing, hate the new compose window with the borderless dialog boxes.... stupid design decisions. I support 500 O365 users, many hate the new changes…..

Frequent Visitor

I have spent a couple of hours trying to restore my outlook to the view I had yesterday. 

This is a business productivity tool so why change it on the whim of some 14 year old.   If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

 

Thank god microsoft don't make cars otherwise it would go in for a service and as you drive home you discover the brake pedal has been relocated into the boot!!

Senior Member

The main issue I have with the latest changes is with the 'compose' pane.  The buttons are far too big and the borderless edges are very unpleasant.  22% of my vertical screen space is now taken up by the address buttons and subject title, whereas in Outlook 2007 (which I still have on another computer, thankfully), it was 17%.

 

Can you PLEASE restore the previous style?  It wasn't broken, so why did you need to fix it?

Visitor

This question may or may be related to this thread..please let me know if it isn't. 

 

Recently on my home Outlook I noticed a difference in the way an individual message banner displays when you open it. I see the subject at the top, then the name, then the to/cc fields. There is also an extra set of reply buttons on the far right. On my work Outlook when I display an individual message I see in the message banner the name, subject, and the to/cc fields. Did my home Outlook change as a result of a recent update and if so is there a way to change it?

Senior Member

Yes, these unwelcome changes were inflicted on Outlook users a week or so ago - and regrettably there's no way to get back to the previous version.

 

Someone decided to fix something that simply wasn't broken....

Visitor

I'm not surprised..at least I wasn't the only one that noticed that change..and you verified my hunch that it had happened pretty recently.

Regular Visitor

Again I am still trying to figure out who focused group tested this disaster that continues to be made of outlook. First they make the icons enormous as if the think a bunch of elementary school children are using it, then endless announced updates that disrupt our work and now this.

 

I get they seem to want to focus on touch and tablet, but seriously make a version especially for that niche or if they are gearing it for the visually impaired market.. Outlook was the one program for the most part that remained unchained and a useful productivity too. The entire office suite is slow as can be compared of office 2007 i used to use. The opening a file in word to one drive for business take more steps than before and is slow.

 

please put this back to the way it was

Visitor

The new version of Outlook is terrible. It literally is like a 10 year was coding in a garage and never actually used the application:

 

  1. Borderless hurts the eyes in email and there is not distinction between subject line/content in email so they run together. In Calendar, it hurts the eyes and the light border in the time slots is barely noticeable so strains the eyes.
  2. Reply/Reply All/Forward has been moved from it’s convenient location on top to an inconvenient location on the right hand side floating by itself.
  3. In Calendar, everything is moved.

Seriously, whomever wrote the code could not have tested it with existing businesses that use the software. Everyone is complaining about it. Revert back to the old version.

Visitor

For what it's worth, I just sent email to Satyan@microsoft.com with my complaint. 

 

He is the CEO of Microsoft.

Regular Visitor
I managed to get the look pretty close to what it was before the change. It wasn't easy, though.
Regular Visitor
Also, can I just say how terrible the UI of this forum is? No way to attach images, no way to edit posts, and when you click preview, it takes you to the top of the page and erases what you'd typed.
Frequent Visitor

can I just say how terrible the UI of this forum is

The forum must have been designed by the same team that did the recent Outlook changes ....

 


 

Contributor

And it's slow. Very, very, very slow. It's a Lithium forum, btw, and what MS chose to migrate many if not all of their blogs to a few years ago.

 

Forums are the main thing they do--you'd think that they'd do it better.

https://www.lithium.com/products/online-communities/forums

 @Brian .  @Chuck Hildebrandt, @StrattonLaw - Separate from the Outlook for Windows user experience updates described here behind Coming Soon, a separate set of updates were made across Office last year, including the new iconography and the ribbon tab approach. Those changes have fully rolled out and are not optional or part of Coming Soon in Outlook.

The Simplified Ribbon was available to users when Coming Soon was turned on and remains an optional mode of the classic ribbon in Outlook.  It is not forced upon users even when Coming Soon is no longer available and the user experience updates are the new default experience. Users who prefer that Simplified Ribbon experience can opt into it if they wish. Others can simply ignore it. 

 

@ ClydeP  - Thank you for your input. We will share with our product team.

@joedeshon, @Brian . , @CRiley  @bauerschild - Thank you for the feedback. The new option on the View tab of the ribbon to Use Tighter Spacing is intended for those who prefer a more compact design over the new, looser spacing of the new default design.

@JHAnchorage_Alaska - Use Tighter Spacing is intended to reduce the spacing on both the message list and the compose experience. Based on customer feedback, we may expose the two as independent settings, but in the current release, it is one single setting.

@Simon Collis  - Thank you for your feedback. These updates were based on a tremendous amount of customer input and validation. We are sorry to hear you do not like the latest updates. This update is the new default experience for Outlook for Windows, and there is no way to revert back. For the last 6+ months, we've provided customers with the option to try the experience by turning on Coming Soon and send us feedback.

@Chuck Hildebrandt - Thank you for the feedback. Performance is important to us, and an area we continue to invest in making even better. If you believe there is a problem, please use the in-app help contact support.

@Steven Seligman  - The Coming Soon option is no longer available to customers in the Monthly Channel. Use Tighter Spacing is available under the View tab. If you believe there is a problem, please use the in-app help to contact support.

@nickwilcock - The new Use Tighter Spacing option on the View tab of the ribbon can be used to reduce the padding around these controls, as well as in the message list.

Senior Member

In which case, there's a bug in your software.  Because 'tighter spacing' doesn't work in the compose pane.

 

Also, can we PLEASE have the compose pane borders back?

 

So glad that I still have the use of an earlier version of Outlook on my Windows7 computer and don't have to suffer the childish nonsense of the version of Outlook in Office 365!

Frequent Visitor
If anyone else doesn't like the changes, I have created a UserVoice request to add an option to revert them, please feel free to share and vote for it, and don't forget to comment as well! https://outlook.uservoice.com/forums/322590-outlook-2016-for-windows/suggestions/37972453-allow-user...