Home
Microsoft

Update on Focused Inbox and our plans for Clutter

In July 2016 we announced that Focused Inbox, a new feature in Outlook that helps you cut through the noise of email to focus on what matters most, would be coming to Office 365 customers. Focused Inbox first rolled out to customers who use modern authentication, and earlier this month we added support for basic authentication. This means that Focused Inbox is now available to all Office 365 customers on the Monthly Channel of Office 365 ProPlus. If you aren’t seeing it yet, be sure your Outlook version is updated to build 16.0.8730 Version 1711 or greater. Focused Inbox will be available to customers on the Semi-Annual Channel in the March 2018 Semi-Annual Targeted release, and the July 2018 Semi-Annual release, according to that channel’s standard schedule.

 

With Focused Inbox now rolled out, we’d like to share more about our plans for Clutter.  As we mentioned in July, Focused Inbox is the long-term replacement for Clutter.  It carries forward Clutter’s capabilities but removes the need to visit a separate folder to check your less-actionable messages.  Because Clutter and Focused Inbox use the same algorithms for sorting messages, there are no changes to how email is classified, just a better user experience.

 

We’ll continue to make Clutter available to Office 365 customers until January 31, 2020.  To prepare for Clutter’s eventual retirement, we’ve turned the feature off by default for new users.  It’s also deactivated for those with extremely low usage (less than 12 emails per month being moved to the Clutter folder), however they can re-enable Clutter at any time, if desired.

 

If your organization is using Clutter today, the process for transitioning to Focused Inbox depends on what version of Outlook you are using. 

 

Subscription version of Outlook (Outlook 2016 as part of Office 365 ProPlus or Office 365 Business): As users in your organization update Outlook to the latest version, those who currently use Clutter will be prompted to give Focused Inbox a try.  If they decide to switch, Clutter will be turned off automatically for that user—no administrator action is required.  If they don’t switch, messages will continue to move to the Clutter folder until the January 2020 end of service date arrives.  As an administrator you can also activate Focused Inbox for your whole organization rather than giving individual users the choice.  See the resources at the end of this post for details.


Perpetual version of Outlook (Outlook 2016 MSI or earlier version): These versions of Outlook do not support Focused Inbox. To transition from Clutter to Focused Inbox, you can upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus (available today) or Outlook 2019, which is scheduled to be released in the second half of 2018 and will include support for Focused Inbox. If you don’t upgrade Outlook before January 2020, messages will stop being moved to the Clutter folder, and will revert to being placed in the inbox.    

 

For more information and FAQs, including how to manage Focused Inbox and Clutter for your organization, please refer to these resources:
 
Blog: Outlook helps you focus on what matters to you
Blog: Managing Focused Inbox in Office 365 and Outlook
Help article: Configure Focused Inbox for everyone in your organization (includes content on configuring Clutter options for your organization)

 

25 Comments
Trusted Contributor

Thanks for the update Jon, this is really helpful information that will help customers plan ahead.  Also thanks for keeping the Office Blog post up-to-date with the latest info as well.

Frequent Visitor

While in large part this just seems like a way to relabel things I've already been using and move them around on me with no real-life benefit, it actually seems like depending on how this is implemented it can actually be a step backwards.  While moving things into the "Clutter" folder, similar to the Junk folder, completely clears these items from my Inbox, this new Focused inbox seems to just be a filtered view of my inbox.  The issue here, is that with Clutter, the messages were out of sight and out of the way when viewed from my iPhone / android devices regardless of email client.  From what I can tell, if I enable this "feature" and disable clutter, I will now be once again bombarded with these less important emails in my inbox when viewed from native clients on my portable devices and anywhere else that I sync my email except for through Outlook clients.  The problem here is that I have no interest in using the Outlook app on most of my devices.  The built in calendar, email and contacts functionality in most modern Android and iPhones is still easier to use and more built-in feeling on devices than the Outlook client, and is also still necessary for full account integration into features like Siri, Google Assistant, and other built in functions of these phones.  In order to use the Focused inbox, while still retaining these functions, I would have to have my account not only synced to the Outlook app, but still also synced to the native apps on the device.  For many, I feel like this is going to be a pain and really provide little benefit especially considering I LOVE the clutter function, and this is a step backwards with how I use my accounts.  I can't be the only one.

Visitor

We need some sort of automatic migration that moves existing Clutter content into the 'Other' inbox and then deletes the Clutter folder.  Many thousands of my users have content in the Clutter folder so its not deleted when focused inbox is enabled.

Occasional Visitor

Hi: The "Focused" feature started working on my Outlook without being turned on.  I double checked, and it is indeed toggled off.  How to I get to to stop when it's already turned off.

Regular Visitor

Sorry, I don't like it. Most of the time I access email on my phone, and the email client I use (BlackBerry Hub) doesn't recognize the split Inbox. I don't know if MS plans to simply delete everyone's Clutter folders some time in 2020, but I like how it functioned up until recently. I also set up a multitude of rules for my various subscriptions to go to Clutter so that I can read them at my leisure, i.e. not at work.

 

This focused Inbox is at best redundant and at worst a big step back. The distinction between important and unimportant emails is most necessary for mobile devices, not for desktops, and it fails for mobile users.

Visitor

Today our users were moved to Focused Inbox when installing Office updates, including my account. I was not asked about Focused Inbox btw - it was just enabled for me (and Clutter was turned off).

 

We're re-enabled Clutter for all users since our users use mobile devices and the split-view that Focused Inbox uses does not reduce the 'clutter' in their inbox as the Clutter feature does.

 

With all makes of mobile devices being the primary access method there's needs to be a solution that works with them - not against them. And sorry, moving everyone off their native platform email apps to the Outlook mobile app is not the solution.

 

We'll keep Clutter enabled for as long as it works or until Focused Inbox is made to natively work with the iOS and Android email apps. As it is now, Focused Inbox completely fails for mobile users.

Regular Visitor

I just read a related blog post on the Focused Inbox - apparently it started rolling out over a year ago. Most of the 95 comments to that post were very negative, yet there wasn't a single reply from the MS Team, and the rollout has been proceeding in spite of numerous requests to have the Focused Inbox disabled by default.

 

I guess the MS Team likes to keep its own engineers busy - I will be calling to be walked through the process of disabling it. Too bad Clutter no longer functions to automatically filter email - I'll just keep adding rules.

Frequent Visitor

I just went ahead and used PowerShell to re-enable Clutter on my office365 for business accounts.  (just a couple, as this is actually a personal setup I'm using it for).  According to this article I'll continue to be able to have it until 2020, so I hope between now and then a better resolution than the current "Focused Inbox" comes around.  Knowing how these companies work, I doubt they'll retract their decision to shut off Clutter, but if they at least offer something comparable rather than what they pushed me into with Focused Inbox it would be preferable.

 

As for now, I used remote powershell to my office365 account and this command: " Set-Clutter -Identity <User> -Enable $true " and got my clutter functionality back.

Occasional Visitor

This seems like a move to get people to adopt the mobile outlook client. Clutter was so good that this is the only reason I can see for the change before pushed. Though the mobile outlook client is nice, we can't wholesale adopt it for a variety of reasons. The majority of email is being read through mobile and this just destryoys that experience.

Frequent Visitor

Well, something happened that triggered my Exchange Online account / Office365 account to switch Clutter BACK off despite only switching it back on 2 weeks ago.  I just used Powershell to turn it off again.  Microsoft, STOP forcing me to change even when you say I won't have to change until 2020.  I have specifically, intentionally changed a setting, it is absolutely unacceptable for you to change it back.  This is not your account, it is mine.  If you say I can still have clutter until 2020, then let me keep it without changing it around every couple weeks or just because I reinstall Outlook or whatever happened to reset it this time.

 

Side note, STOP telling me I should switch to Edge.  I use Edge.  I also use IE, I also use Chrome.  I am an IT professional who has reasons for opening many different browsers for many different reasons.  Constantly badgering me about something I've already been using is ridiculous.  I use EDGE frequently, so stop suggesting I use it!

Regular Visitor

We need to let MS know in a more effective way than by commenting on a blog post. I hope that everyone who is subscribed to this thread calls a MS support engineer and asks to be walked through re-enabling Clutter. Even if you know how to do it - call in anyway, act stupid if you have to.

 

MS has been known to reverse bad decisions, but the message won't get through unless it filters up from their support staff. So please, call in and ask them to help you turn Clutter back on. The phone number in North America is either 1-800-865-9408 or 1-800-636-7914. I think the second number is better.

 

Occasional Visitor

Vote clutter back up here https://outlook.uservoice.com/forums/322590-outlook-2016-for-windows ... maybe they will listen

Occasional Visitor

I am so relieved that clutter will be kept alive till 2020. For some users focused inbox might be easier, but until its not supported in major clients including IOS mail, then Clutter has to be kept.

For me, using Focused is just confusing.

Its easier to visit another folder periodically and just search for missing emails. its also a lot easier to teach the system by moving mails to Clutter. I love the Clutter mail functionality,

Frequent Visitor

Clutter has once again been disabled and replaced with Focused Inbox on my two accounts, with the "Welcome to Focused Inbox" email showing up in my inbox.  I'm going to have to use remote powershell again to go disable it.  I know this isn't the way to get Microsoft to hear me, but I still feel like saying this: Please Microsoft, stop with the Focused Inbox.  It does not work for me.  I want the clutter feature.  Focused inbox is inferior, and should remain disabled.

Occasional Visitor

I just can't put into words how much I loathe the "focus box" feature....please for the love of god do away with it. 

Occasional Visitor

I absolutely agree with you.

if it were a complete solution with all mobile apps on different systeme being aware of the focused mail, maybe it would be feasable, but it just is not complete.

Clutter is 100% compliant backwards because all email clients are aware of different directories vs the main inbox one.

Focused is so bad...

Frequent Visitor

Unfortunately I don't foresee Microsoft suddenly seeing the light and going back on their plans of removing the Clutter functionality.  Luckily I haven't had to re-enable clutter for a few months, but **bleep** it just works so much better than focused inbox.  I've said it multiple times here already, Focused Inbox sucks, and I don't want it, ever.  I won't turn it on, even after they remove clutter.  Please MS, rethink this bad decision, and keep clutter AS AN OPTION.  I can see some people liking focused, so let them have it.  I can't imagine that it's a huge amount of effort to allow for both, as its already possible now.  Just keep it as is!

Occasional Visitor

Too bad they are not reading this :(

Occasional Visitor
If only it had 5K votes like some of the other features "Vote clutter back up here https://outlook.uservoice.com/forums/322590-outlook-2016-for-windows ... maybe they will listen"
Occasional Visitor

Thanks for the update.  I would really like to see the ability to whitelist and blacklist domains again.  For me - moving an email to my inbox doesn't work very well.  I have critical emails which are from customers, employees, etc wind up in clutter for no reason.  Moving an email to inbox sometimes helps, but within a few weeks - Clutter starts to put the same important email into my clutter folder.  What is the use of this?  Now I have to read two mailboxes every day instead of my main inbox.

 

There should be an easy way for me to for example "Accept all email from my organization"  It should be able to tell the difference between a spoofed from: email address and a real one.

 

If you're saying that Focused Inbox uses the same algorithms that Clutter uses - then we really need whitelisting and blacklisting at various levels, or at least a non probabilistic method of nailing down accepted and unaccepted emails.

 

Thanks,

Eric

 

Frequent Visitor

Msoft cannot have listened to those who don't want focused inbox, or their reasons for not wanting it.  Mostly, it's not wanted because focused inbox does NOT enable managed folders; AND having managed folders is precisely how Msoft guided it's customers to properly use OUTLOOK.  Msoft will bring great disruption to my company's operations by removing 'Clutter', which works perfectly.  This latest news that Clutter will be discontinued is insulting and devastating. At Msoft, the lunatics appear to have now taken-over the asylum.  Will some public-spirited hero/heroine please step-up at Msoft and stop this incredulous change, please?

Regular Visitor

"Declined"! Thanks, Microsoft - nice to know that users who care enough to write about a bad change are being listened to. I have not seen a single UserVoice post where the user preferred Focused Inbox to Clutter. And yet MS is going ahead with killing Clutter.

 

Your stupid decision will not make me use the Outlook app on my phone - I will continue to use BlackBerry Hub, thank you very much. I just don't understand a company's desire to deliberately frustrate its users.

Occasional Visitor

Hello, again.

 

My problem with Focus is that it really doesn't set the email aside as the number of new emails placed in the Other view is counted in the number of new emails that continues to distract me from focusing on focus work. Please remove the count of new emails placed in the Other view.

 

Thank you.

Visitor

Really disappointed that there is no way forward for Clutter users. If Focused Inbox is supposed to be the way forward, then tell me: how do I use it with iOS's email app? There is no way to change the default email app on iOS - Apple doesn't allow that. So what are iOS user supposed to do - run two email apps (iOS and the Outlook app)? Sorry, I don't want to use the Outlook app - I prefer to use the native email app on my phone and tablets.

 

So essentially MS is making me choose between Exchange email accounts that require their own special email client or switch to an email provider that can work with existing standards on all my devices. Seems like the same old MS from decades past...

 

I'd almost understand MS's stance here if they were trying to push all us iOS users to their own phone platform, except they don't have one anymore.

Visitor

It also strikes me that there could be an easy solution, so here's a new suggestion:

 

When something is flagged for focused inbox to be "Other", how about adding an X- style mime header to the msg. Then all of those who use Exchange but also use other popular email clients like the native iOS mail app can simply create an Exchange server Rule to move those messages elsewhere so they don't end up cluttering our inboxes.

 

Seems like a workable solution since Exchange already add all sorts of other headers to incoming mail. Please give us users who can't use Outlook mobile an option!