Designed for Simplicity: User experience updates to Outlook for Windows

Published Sep 04 2018 10:00 AM 178K Views

The most prominent update coming to Outlook for Windows is the new Simplified Ribbon and it’s showcased with the new Coming Soon feature pane. Over the last two years we’ve been talking, concepting and co-creating with customers and are now ready to introduce an exciting number of updates that simplify the user experience, while keeping with the familiarity of Outlook. These updates are aimed at making it easier for you to get things done and focus on what matters with a customizable experience that keeps you in control. 


Customize your Outlook experience with a Simplified Ribbon


Since Microsoft introduced the ribbon we’ve learned a lot about how customers use this tool in Outlook. At the top of that list is this notion that how you work is highly personal. For example, people generally use the same ten commands most of the time but still need a level of customization for that 11th, 12th and 13th command, which are all different based on a user’s personal preference and what they work on most.


The Simplified Ribbon is both easily customizable and adaptable. The single row of commands can be quickly personalized to suit your work style and preferences—simply pin or remove commands from the ribbon that are important to you. You can always click back into the classic, full ribbon to access the complete set of commands anytime. You will also find that the Simplified Ribbon is now adaptive.  It scales to fit different window sizes, adjusts icon labels and moves commands out of the way and accessible via new ellipses and menu drop down experiences.


Watch this video to see the Simplified Ribbon and more updates coming to Outlook for Windows:


Focus on what matters


Many small changes in the message list help highlight the things that matter. For example, names are bolded and flagged messages stand out with a yellow background. And with a little more padding and text treatment to create a clearer visual hierarchy, scanning your inbox is easier and focusing on important messages is easier than ever.


Message subjects are more prominent in the reading pane and the header now takes up less space, leaving more room for your content.


Updates to message list and reading paneUpdates to message list and reading pane

Similarly, we made the commands you need for rich content creation available when you Pop Out your message response so you can easily access the power of the full ribbon in Outlook at any time.


And email and calendar response options, such as Reply or Accept buttons, are contextual to where you are working.


Stay organized 


In the familiar folder pane, where email messages may be distributed across Favorites, Folders and Groups, special icons make each of them easy to spot. We learned that customers who frequently use Office 365 Groups needed quicker access to the group folders. In this update, we’ve elevated Groups to show up as a peer of personal folders under each account so now they will be accessible even if you hide your Folders list.


To give you more time back in your day, updates in Outlook Calendar help speed up the process of sending a meeting request. Both Required and Optional attendees can be quickly added. And with a clean, reorganized meeting request form, by setting the meeting time first, you make the suggested Location or conference rooms time-aware.


Outlook Calendar updatesOutlook Calendar updatesThe updated Outlook for Windows experience is simpler and more customizable so you can work faster and get back to the things that matter most. Outlook helps you connect, organize and get things done. We’re excited about these changes and look forward to your feedback.


Coming Soon and the user experience updates are rolling out to customers in the Monthly Channel (Targeted) release program in the next few weeks then later rolling out more broadly to all Office 365 customers. 


When you see Coming Soon, turn it On, explore the updates and let us know what you think. 


To stay up-to-date, follow us on Twitter or keep an eye on the Office roadmap to see what is coming. You can also read about the updates coming to Outlook on the web.



Frequently asked questions

  1. When will I see the changes?

These changes will start to roll out to the Office Insider program Insiders and Monthly Channel (Targeted) customers in September and then, based on customer feedback, more broadly to production for Monthly Channel customers.  Coming Soon will continue to be available in Outlook for Windows throughout the roll out of the user experience updates.  These updates will not be available with Outlook in Office 2019 for Windows.  


  1. Can my company control when these updates roll out?

The Coming Soon feature allows users to try the new experience any time before they roll out to production to all Office 365 customers. At any time during that period, 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. 

Once the new experience has completely rolled out to production and validated with customer feedback, the Coming Soon option will no longer be needed and the new experience will not be optional.


  1. Why don’t I see the changes now?

If any of the following are true, you may not see the updates in Outlook for Windows:  

  • Your company many not be part of the Office 365 Insiders or Monthly Channel Targeted program and the updates are not yet available in production, Monthly Channel.
  • Your company may have blocked Coming Soon through a group policy setting and the updates are not yet available in production.
  • You are using Outlook in Office 2013 or 2016.


  1. Will Coming Soon always be an available option?

No, Coming Soon is designed to share significant changes that will soon roll out to Office 365 customers.  The Coming Soon button and on/off toggle not be visible once those updates are fully rolled out to production and will appear again only when Microsoft plans to introduce additional, material changes in Outlook for Windows.


  1. What if I don’t want to accept the changes?

While Coming Soon is available, customers can return to the classic experience at any time.  Once the updates are fully rolled out in production, the option to return to the classic experience will no longer be available.  However, the Simplified Ribbon will always be expandable and collapsible.


  1. Are there more updates coming?

Yes, as announced in June 2018, the updates to the Office 365 and Outlook user experience are rolling out slowing over the next several months.  For example, updates to Search in Outlook for Windows are expected to roll out by the end of 2018.  Additional information will be forthcoming with more details closer to the roll out of additional updates.


  1. Can administrators turn off Coming Soon?

[Updated 9/11/18]   If you're an admin, you can use a regkey to hide the Coming Soon feature in Outlook for Windows.  Learn more.



If Coming Soon is not available for your users to try the new user experience and provide feedback at their convenience, they will receive the updates in Outlook for Windows once we roll them out to production for all Monthly Channel customers.  

Super Contributor

Can you explain "Similarly, we made the commands you need for rich content creation available when you Pop Out your message response so you can easily access the power of the full ribbon in Outlook at any time." ? I don't get it. How it is different from the current version? If you want to bold text or change colors/fonts/etc. you have to Pop out.


@Oleg K Thank you for your message.  When you Pop Out your response in Outlook for Windows today, you will have the classic ribbon experience.  However with the new user experience updates, when you Pop Out a message response, you will have the benefit of more room for your content with the Simplified Ribbon or expand it to have the full set of commands - Similar to the experience when you expand and collapse the Simplified Ribbon in the main mail canvas.  


I see what you mean by a "little more padding" in the screenshot, but I hope this aspect is configurable, as similar things have been in the past. As it is, you can only get X messages fitted vertically in the view you're showing (which is my preferred view), and I'd hate for that to drop by 3 or 4 all for a little more vertical spacing, which it never has even occurred to me before as something needed.

Occasional Visitor

We definitively appreciate the redesign and it looks gorgeous. I hope that it didn't divert resources to fix more important issues such as :


- Support of alias/connected account : . 2 years still in the making.

- Support of proper MFA for Outlook accounts : Also few years in the making.

- Proper integration with the notification center of Windows 10 (not the popups that are not integrated). I'm sure you could convince your colleagues in the windows team to introduce missing features.

- Proper support of dot not disturb/focus assist.

- Move to proper UWP or modern infrastructure so we don't have to restart the application if we have multiple monitors of different resolutions. See . MacOS (and Outlook on macOS) adapt perfectly without any restart/sign out. I hope that the design above is ready for high-dpi/multiple resolutions.

- Proper conversation support with quoting (also when replying, not like the current support) : and . See also . Microsoft claims to <3 open source and all the open source mailing lists are using this type of conversations and email. A big issue in my corporation btw.

- Android notifications not clearing when I read my email on Outlook for PC. (over 2K+ votes from the community). 


Globally I like Office 365 but Outlook on the PC has been lagging and lagging to the point that either we moved platforms (the Microsoft offer is better on Mac or iOS) or move service because it works better.


This is really good work, it looks slick.



>Proper integration with the notification center of Windows 10 (not the popups that are not integrated).


I'm not following this one. You have the choice, depending on how you have Outlook set in Settings/Apps, for whether the toast notifications accrue in the notification center. What else could "proper" mean?  I leave that setting off, because I don't want them stacking up there, but you have the choice.


>Move to proper UWP or modern infrastructure so we don't have to restart the application if we have multiple monitors of different resolutions. 


Please dear god no. Solve that another way, a truly "proper" way, which UWP most certainly is not. Outlook is faaaar too complex of a program to be put through that sieve. MS couldn't even translate Skype(!) properly to a modern infrastructure, so something with a ton more to it like Outlook stands no chance. If they tried, they'd get a toy app like Mail that comes with Win10, and that would be the end of Outlook. UWP just doesn't support complex things--not even something simple as a tray icon.

Super Contributor

Oh, i agree that it just feels embarrassing to advice my users to restart Outlook after they come back from a meeting or connect they laptops to external monitors at home, so it won't be blurry. Yeah, in 1803 Windows 10 it is better as you don't have to sign out. Still. It is not how OS and apps should operate in 21 century. This is not innovation. Windows 7 was better about this and this feels like step backwards.

Occasional Visitor

By proper integration in notifications center, I meant rich toast notifications, quick actions (that you could personalize like “mark as read” or “archive”). The Windows Mail have some of this features for example. Same for calendar events with a button to Join a Team meeting (or Skype for Business).


And UWP or something else it doesn’t really matter as an user point of view, I wish some of the features that are in there (touch vs mouse, hi dpi, tiles) which I think would be great to have in Outlook for Desktop PC.


Regular Visitor



Took 2 years to redesign the ribbon and add couple cosmetics visual changes? There must be 10 times as many product managers than devs on that team. This is not innovation, it’s just going thru the motions MS cares about Outlooks future. You guys can do so much more like integration with Teams and other third party tools, etc

Frequent Contributor

I'd just really like the same save as options that Word/Excel has now.


So my clients could actually save their attachments directly into the cloud location and subfolder they choose rather than having a two step process OR third party paid solution forced on them.

Frequent Contributor

whether it is applicable to all the outlook versions


The "Coming Soon" toggle appeared in my Outlook (Insider) today independent of a new build. However, enabling it and restarting Outlook doesn't change anything that I've noticed, so maybe actual changes will require a new build. Update: Enabling it on a different system (same Insider build) DID enable the changes though, so maybe it's just a slow/targeted rollout, even for those who opt in.


@Alexis Menard, that reminds me of many years ago when we could also simply delete an email right from the toast notification (there was an "X" on one side of it). I assume, like the actions you mention, this capability was lost when Outlook opted to use Win10's notification system. I'm amazed that these features haven't been restored yet, but I have a feeling that it's yet another limitation of the system (i.e. the OS, not Outlook).


+1 on the padding point: please do not reduce the number of emails visible in the same vertical height from the current design 

Not applicable

OK - I followed the link and installed the latest ADMX for office and do not see any setting for "Preview Place" in User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Outlook 2016\Outlook Options\Other


I would like to disable this feature asap so it doesn't bite us later.



Chris, I don't see it either. I suspect that those policy files, which are over three months old, aren't the ones they meant to point to.

Not applicable

Thanks Brian, 

At least I'm not losing my mind.  


I can't immediately find a newer version - Anyone else?


Also Brian I think you're correct because searching in the excel sheet that comes with the package listed above for 'Preview Place' doesn't seem to find anything either.


Occasional Contributor

@Eugenie Burrage Thanks for sharing the above. The new meeting invitation form has a button for a Skype Meeting, but not one for a Teams Meeting. Since Teams is Microsoft's strategic direction and Skype for Business is being deprecated, is there a Teams Meeting option? Can it be set as the default? Thanks.

Occasional Contributor

@Eugenie Burrage One other question: why the different opt-in terminology between the new Outlook on the web and the new Outlook on Windows? Both opt-in sliders seem to do the same thing, but the terminology is different, e.g., "The new Outlook" versus "Coming Soon".


If anyone figures how how to revert the vertical spacing ("padding"), both for the folders on the left, but mainly for the message summaries in the middle, please share. I switched the whole preview off because of this, which is a shame, because I like what they did with the look of fonts in the message summary column.

Occasional Contributor

I'm all for simplifying and streamlining so this is good news. Will you be adding a combined Inbox view for multiple accounts as you have in the Outlook Mobile app? This really is a killer feature for people with multiple email accounts.  


@Chris Gibson We've identified the issue with the ADMX for Office and will rectify.  In the meantime, as an administrator, you can use a regkey: for the group policy:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00





I've updated the FAQ.  But I do want to point out that by hiding the Coming Soon feature, customers will not be able to try the new experience and give us feedback before we roll it out more broadly to all Outlook for Windows Monthly Channel customers.  We've learned from customers that the opportunity to try it out really help to introduce new updates. 

Not applicable

Thanks! @Eugenie Burrage


I understand that users won't see the changes but by disabling the button I can roll out the preview to specific users so we can test and document rather than having 800 users all see this new button and call the help desk to ask why it's there.

Occasional Visitor

This is not what we want. We want fixes not pointless face lifts!


@Eugenie Burrage, is there going to be (or is there already) a way to adjust the padding spoken of in your post?  It may be all well and good for some, but for others it introduces completely unnecessary vertical spacing/white space, allowing for fewer messages.

Regular Visitor

Are Coming Soon and User Experience Updates going to get rolled out together, or Coming Soon will be rolled out first and then the User Experience Updates? And these will be rolled out to Insider Program and Targeted Monthly Channel customers first, correct? Just wasn't sure if Coming Soon will be rolled out to all O365 customers or not (from what I read, it looks like its not), so double-checking.


Pretty cool updates though. Can see it saving users a lot of time.

Occasional Visitor

When I try to browse to that registry key location, I get as far as [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\ but the only options I get under Microsoft are Internet Explorer, SystemCertificates, and Windows.  I don't have a listing for Office.  Any ideas on what I might be doing wrong?


@Alex Garcia The correct reg key is: [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Options\General] "DisablePreviewPlace"=dword:00000001


The help topic had an incorrect reg key for a short time yesterday. We apologize for the inconvenience.


@Sneh Thakkar Yes, Coming Soon will be rolled out to Monthly Channel (Targeted) which will give users access to the new user experience at the same time.  These will both then be rolled out to all Monthly Channel customers in production.  Eventually Coming Soon will disappear and the new user experience will not longer but optional.  Until then Coming Soon toggle is the way you can turn on the New Experience. 


@Brian .  @Mary Branscombe    Yes, we are developing the capability to adjust the message list density.  Monthly Channel (Targeted) customers should see it in the coming weeks. 


@Sankarasubramanian Parameswaran 


Yes, please refer to this article that explains the updates for Outlook more broadly.  It also includes a link to the June 13th announcement about the Office 365 user experience updates which will be rolling out over several months across Outlook and Office apps.   

Occasional Visitor

The url at the end of the article to "use a regkey" has a typo so it doesn't load when you click on it.  This is what it points to:


i think its supposed to be:


 Also, those instructions seem like they are for making the change on an individual machine, how would I do this via GPO to apply it to all our end user machines?

Occasional Contributor

When should we expect the updated ADMX files so we can deploy the disable via GPO to all users?  We are a large organization and if 10k users see this all at once, it will undoubtedly cause a ton of calls to our helpdesk.  Very frustrating that MS continues to deploy new features and apps to all by users by default instead of letting admins decide first if users should see them or not.   I've brought this up to our TAM and he tells me this is a very common complaint among all his clients.


@Richard, shouldn't they have implemented the reg key via GPO by now (see previous post)?  It amounts to the same thing.

Senior Member

Exciting! Looking forward to seeing the the new changes!


@Eugenie Burrage, being on Insider Fast, which is ahead of Monthly Channel (Targeted), the density setting could already be there...if I knew where to look. Could you give us a hint as to where it'll be so that as new builds come out I can check?  Otherwise, it's a bit of a needle in a haystack.

Regular Visitor

I just received the update as a "targeted" user. I have to say I am disappointed.


First off, can we stop removing contrast? Yes, you added color to icons, but where did the contrast between sections and tabs go? Why have a theme called "colorful" that is anything but?


Also, I never received the "Coming Soon" toggle, nor do I see any way to choose the "simplified ribbon". I also notice that the screenshots above do not match what I currently see in Outlook. Did they remove some of the changes between "insider" and "targeted"? They also removed the ribbon "tab" and replaced it with an underline. Microsoft, this is a Windows application, not a website! If it were not for the reduction in features, I would switch to strictly using the Outlook web app.


@Daniel Voyleswhat you're seeing is the icon refresh (that Microsoft tells me is still being worked on); that comes before the simplified ribbon - I got the icons maybe 2 weeks ago and only saw the Coming Soon button appear this week)

Regular Visitor

@Mary BranscombeThanks for the insight. I will patiently wait for more (and hopefully better) updates.

Super Contributor

So, today our users started receiving updated look (so far only icons and new tabs animation). I use compact tabs and i don't like that expanding animation now is significantly slower. Even switching between tabs in the ribbon is slower now. Not sure if this is by default or some improvements are needed.

New Contributor

In the new outlook web (when you toggle to the new outlook) - the LinkedIn integration disappears - is there a reason for this or when will that be fixed?

Note when I toggle back to the old outlook, the LinkedIn integration is there, just not in the new.



Frequent Contributor

When I switch to coming soon view, I cannot add the inboxes of shared mailboxes to my favorites. Interestingly, all other folders in the shared mailbox work fine. Where do I report this?

Frequent Visitor

The composer's To,CC,BCC and Subject fields were given extra high padding, now looks much less elegant and taking a lot more space. There was no reason to do this, please fix it.

outlook extra padding new interface.png


Occasional Contributor

So, @Eugenie Burrage, will the ribbon and menus just eventually move to AI control?

Start with standard ribbon and menu items. 

Over time, for the ribbon items and menu items that I never use, have them fall off into the ellipsis (more) icon.

Each ribbon icon or menu item gets a pin/unpin context menu action to override the AI. 


(No problems so far using the the new look.)

OK - I followed the link and installed the latest ADMX for office and do not see any setting for "Preview Place" in User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Outlook 2016\Outlook Options\Other


It's available now with the October policy files

Note that it's called "Disable Preview Place."

Coincidentally, and completely separate from any policy, as of Thursday or Friday, "Coming Soon" seems to have vanished for everyone that I've checked with. Anyone who had it enabled is back to the old look automatically. Perhaps MS is rethinking it?  Temporary glitch?


@Brian .I still have Coming Soon and the simplified ribbon on two PCs with Office 365 e5, one Windows 10 Pro, one Home

@Eugenie Burrageannoying bug with the simplified ribbon; whenever Outlook crashes (and the options/Mail dialog is causing me repeat crashes) any icons pinned to the simplified ribbon disappear.

Super Contributor

I have also noticed that dragging Outlook window with new icons make it stutter a bit when it tries to reposition icons (when dragging between monitors with different resolutions or dragging to the side and back again. I don't remember such thing with old design.


 @Mary Branscombe But those aren't in either Insider ring, right?  The logic that MS is using to remove the toggle from Insiders boggles my mind. They say:


"The new UI has been rolled out to production so it is no longer an Insider feature."


Which is not true. The TOGGLE has been rolled out to production. Not the new UI as a default.


So, unless the entire point of Insiders having access to the toggle for approx six weeks was to test the toggle and only the toggle (toggle goes on, toggle goes off, toggle goes on, toggle goes off), then Insiders should still have access to it so that they can test what the real point of the testing was: the new UI!


So, now I have to figure out what the Registry value is (assuming there is one) that corresponded to the toggle in order to test the new UI as an Insider.


@Brian .I still have the simplified ribbon on Insider builds 


Occasional Visitor

So I have allowed Outlook 365 on my laptop to show me the new format.  There are fewer lines of email displayed per vertical inch than there were on the old format. The email header bar on the preview screen is now smaller than it was, but the option to compress it seems to have gone away, the result being the new look uses more screen real estate than the old one. 


I am SO disappointed. Believe it or not I've only just converted from Outlook 2003 and the layout, the contrast, the colours, the readabilty was far better with O2003 than a product 15 years younger.  And  I am afraid that the new Outlook 365 on the PC is not better than the old.


Come on Microsoft,we don't all work on massive screens with 1920 x 1080 resolution.  My ageing eyesight prefers my laptop with a 13" screen set at lower resolution. Please bring back the better use of screen real estate seen in O2003, and at the very least make the current version configurable per user.  For example, I don't need the search bar there all the time. But I can't turn it off. 


So - configurable layout please with the ability to turn bits on and off, bring back the ability to collapse the preview screen header, let us display at least as many emails as before and do something about the awful low contrast environment.


@APB_Blockley Sorry to hear that vertical spacing issue is still there. Months ago in this thread, we were told that there would soon be a way to adjust it (remember, @Eugenie Burrage?), but I haven't heard anything more about it, and I haven't seen "Coming Soon" available in a couple months, so I can't look to see if they've added it as an option somewhere.


I don't even have the prettified ribbon, but that's a different subject.

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‎Sep 11 2018 11:56 AM
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