Designed for Simplicity: User experience updates to Outlook for Windows
Published Sep 04 2018 10:00 AM 185K 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.  

Occasional Visitor

Hello ,


can you please tell how I can get your version of outlook design for example I wish to have the paper plane symbol when sending the message like you have here. Now I have the letter symbol. image.png 


thank you so much !


Frequent Visitor

I was dismayed when I moving the Coming Soon slider to On and saw that the Daily Task List under the Calendar lost showing categories as part of the streamlining.


As a project manager, I work  in blocks of time on specific projects. In order to deal with all the issues for one project at a time, I use the categories on the Daily Task List to help sort the day's e-mails and tasks by project using the category function via the Calendar view. This is what I'm used to seeing in the Daily Task List:

Daily Task lIst old.png

I do not like that the categories are lost in the streamlined version. It makes it impossible to have the e-mails and tasks sorted by category as shown below:

Daily Task List.png

I've Disabled Updates in Office to avoid losing this feature when the new roll out occurs.



Occasional Visitor

I have used the new experience for some time and I love especially the feature to remove ANY button from the ribbon, even the default ones. with this, the ribbon has become really lean and only shows what I acutally use.


HOWEVER, since about 1 week, the option to remove any button has vanished from the context menu and today all the buttons that I previously removed have come back! This is very annoying! I searched the web for any hint what is happening, but I found nothing so far.


My Office version 365 Pro Plus 1812.


Please help!

Super Contributor

I just saw this on the roadmap. It seems they are going to do something about the spacing


I saw that "Change the current view to use tighter spacing between emails in your message list and around the compose/reply buttons to leave more room for your message body" (supposedly coming this month) too, and could hardly believe it, since it was promised for last fall.


Of course, I haven't actually seen "Coming Soon" again since late last year, so it's not a big deal yet.

Not applicable

The more user interface options available (Simplified Ribbon, Prefer Tighter Spacing, etc.) the better.  BUT those and other positive aspects of the "more streamline, modern look" are completely overshadowed by the current selection of Office Themes. Simply put, they are ugly. The Black theme looks like an accessibility option for low vision users. The Dark Grey theme is drab and depressing. The White theme is too bright -- inducing eye strain. And the Colorful theme isn't colorful at all...  it's just the White Theme with a different header color for each application. With Office 2003, 2007, and 2010, users had many more options to customize and add color to the interface. "Modern" does not have to look like Apple's "1984" Super Bowl commercial!

Occasional Visitor

When do you think we can get a unified inbox for more than 1 email account? 


The Simplified Ribbon looks great except that I could neither pin nor remove commands from it.  Smiley Sad 

Occasional Visitor

I love the new look of Outlook, it really gets better with time!

However, I would really like to have my favorite folder list like in the second screenshot, where the folder are listed with a small icon. Is this an option or not released now? My favorite folder list is identical with the folders below of it.

New Contributor
Most of the changes feel like it is easier to view and navigate - no issues. However, I do wish the navigation pane folder list had been kept the indicator icons for what each folder represents (Mail - Tasks - Calendar - Contacts - Notes). For users with many shortcuts the icon was an additional indicator of what the folder holds and now it is just a bland long list.
Occasional Visitor

The number of unread messages in a folder now being displayed at the far right of the pane is extremely disappointing.  I've only had my email open a couple hours and already I am having difficulty accurately recognizing which folders have unread messages and which do not.  The numbers are now too far away.  Is there an option to bring these back to how it was - closer?

Occasional Visitor

PLEASE allow users to color code their favourites  on the left, for example I work for multiple businesses and have several email addresses, I would like to pin all my in-boxes to favourites and then colour them for quick identification, as it is now 6 addresses can get frustrating to move between.

Occasional Visitor

@Eugenie Burrage PLEASE allow users to color code their favourites  on the left, for example I work for multiple businesses and have several email addresses, I would like to pin all my in-boxes to favourites and then colour them for quick identification, as it is now 6 addresses can get frustrating to move between.


I don't understand why any of these changes have to happen in the first place. "The updated Outlook for Windows experience is simpler and more customizable so you can work faster and get back to the things that matter most."  The UI updates as of April 2019 amount to very little. We upgraded (?) to office 365 from 2010 at the turn of the year and have been amazed at how Microsoft has ruined outlook in particular.  All microsoft has ever needed to do was look at Outlook 2010 for PC and build from there with behind the scenes upgrades and improvements.  The ridiculously huge message header size ,the not quite finished look of the calendar and the unusable preview window if viewed from the bottom are  among many huge mistakes in developing outlook from 2013 forward.  I keep hearing about the "modern" look to the UI and it just disgusts me.  Why make a "modern" look if you are going to ruin functionality?   There are a few things with office 365 overall that are definitely improvements ( ie. xcell opening different files in new windows) which keep me from re installing 2010 for our entire company  but I am still on the fence.

The outlook 2010 UI did not need to change much with newer editions.  All of the "fixes" Microsoft is doing are just an attempt to respond to sensible users and really get back to what worked and actually make it easier to "work faster and get back to the things that matter most".   Some of our company PC's still have office 2010 because those people use outlook extensively and we are not going to make them suffer through the joke of outlook 2016.  All users should look at that UI and especially the Microsoft development  team  to get a better idea of what to do to fix outlook 2016 and future editions.  How anyone can think the current version of outlook is anywhere near as good as 2010 and before is a complete mystery to me.



Occasional Visitor
Add a Universal inbox option to Outlook for Windows like ALL the other email apps out there for mac and others Outlook 365 / 2019 / 2016 etc... Why not add a universal inbox option like the ability to add this as a favorite even - one that consolidates multiple inboxes much like Outlook for mac or mail on the mac or many other top rated email apps out there? This has been a much desired feature in Outlook for Windows for a LONG time now and nothing much has changed in it not being added.. seems odd to me.
Occasional Visitor

Is there an option to move the "Unread" total back to be next to the folder name rather then all of the totals being right aligned? I find it really hard to glance now at the folders with unread emails. It's really frustrating.

Occasional Visitor

Please ensure that the vertical padding is adjustable in a setting. Not only does it allow for fewer emails per page (particularly difficult on laptop screen), I also find it makes the email list harder to read. That extra space makes for a mental jump between each email, instead of a quickly scannable list.


View > Current View > Use Tighter Spacing

Frequent Visitor

So when will you add more theme options? Seems to me that modernize might at include more than 3 options for colorizing the interface ...

Occasional Visitor

I might be a little off topic, but I also use Outlook for Android and I'm very frustrated about the lack of an important feature, the ability to search the calendar.


I've been consistently requesting this feature for several years (4 at least) and believe I'm not alone in this. Why do you continue to add "features" to the Android version but still omit this very important one?


Apologies if I'm asking the wrong community, I'm getting no where using the Android APP feedback route.



Is there an option to turn off text descriptions and leave only icons in the ribbon? Cannot find this anywhere...

Not applicable

With regards to highlighting flagged emails, please either make it so only past due and due today flags are highlighted yellow or offer an option to toggle to that functionality. If I have emails flagged as due next week highlighted the same as emails flagged for today, this is not helpful.

Occasional Visitor

The "modern look" with the thinner icons makes it harder for old people to see.  I especially do not like the Outlook Message format for the To:, Cc:, and subject lines.  The blue line that indicates which field you are in is too subtle.  Preferred it the old way - I think there was a color change for the whole field, not just the line.

Occasional Visitor

Did the attachment icon used to be on the left side of the email in the list view (next to sender)?  I keep looking for it there, because that is one thing that I usually quickly glance at in incoming emails.  With it on the right side, it makes it harder to quickly see if there is an attachment.  

Frequent Visitor

All looks good, and fresh but only on the outside.

I mean seriously, for example the Address Book doesn't seem to be even looked at since like Office for Windows 3.11, or at least Windows 95, come on guys.  21st century and when I look to my Address Book I can't sort it by any of given columns, I can't modify (add or remove columns) it's ancient!

Would you please address that!

I don't know how about the others, but I would really appreciate address book getting a redesign.


There is another few features that didn't change since like 2000 :(


Occasional Contributor

@Eugenie Burrage 

"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."


PLEASE do not remove the classic experience.  the new modern look is awful and i will have to quit my computer job over it.  Keep the classic look forever, its what makes outlook good.  otherwise you're turning it into gmail which is a joke

@Eugenie Burrage - I came into work yesterday to find my screen the same as @Geoffroy Ménard has shown. Without being too dramatic I am finding this new layout unusable, to the point of asking our IT support to roll back all office 365 installs to look for another solution. I am using a laptop with an external screen, when replying to an email now I can use less than 1/5 of the total real estate of my screen... whats the point..? (please factor in our emails need to be sent to multiple people & have multiple attachments) Additionally the contrast has changed to such a degree that the entire window is now whitewashed to become unusable. We appreciate outlook is constantly evolving but I struggle to get excited about these new features as I primarily use it to send emails, unusual I know! These new changes seem to be cosmetic rather than functional so why are they not offered as "options" that the user can selcet based on their particular setting? Can I remind you its 2019 and this feels like a windows 3.1 solution. Please please please can you join us in the modern world?
Occasional Contributor
As @PawelTomal indicated, there are still ancient dialogs in outlook. * Address Book - resizable but you can't sort it by any given column * Signatures - wow. You can't even resize it * Rules and Alerts * View settings * Color Categories * Outlook Options - should be the part of File menu - the same way as Office account settings .....
Occasional Visitor

The only annoyance is in the e-mail editor. I'm used to the address and subject portion being clearly separated from the message body. Because the "Subject" title is so faint and not surrounded by a box, I keep typing the subject line into the "Bcc" section.

Occasional Contributor

I've been told by q microsoft employee that the goal is for outlook to be exactly the same on PC, tablets, and phones...3 very different devices


So instead of outlook for PC being designed for PCs...all outlooks will be designed to work insufficiently on all systems, instead of being configured specifically for the type of hardware its being used on...


they called it One Outlook but its just a lazy excuse to only develop 1 outlook that only partially works on each type of hardware

Super Contributor

Even with this new design Outlook on desktop and on mobile are night and day. Actually i would like more features to come from desktop to mobile, like creating reminders when flagging emails, proper folder management and so on. After using new design for a few weeks I don't mind notice it anymore. Just had to enable tighter spacing :grinning_face:


One Outlook design for all platforms?  Impossible. They might have been able to pull that off with Skype (much to great user dissatisfaction), but desktop mail and mobile mail are two different things. Not that they can't share some elements where it makes sense.


Hi there,


I have a few questions regarding Outlook for windows in its current state:


1. where all of these Favorites folder icons are on folder panel?

2. why collapse arrows on folder panel are so close to titles?

3. why search field have been moved to title bar and looks ugly because of its small size"

4. why there is no options to display contact icons in the message list?

Super Contributor

Regarding the search i think they did that to unify how search works and looks in other Office apps and web services (SharePoint, Office portal, etc.). I wouldn't mind this that much, although now i have to click more to get the results as i usually look for emails, not for contacts or documents in other systems. But what irks me is that they put so much stuff into Office app titlebar that it looks crazy now. So many buttons and fields, that you have to click carefully not to trigger something if you just want to grab and move a window..


I agree, the unification of the search field makes sense. Although ... the search field on title bar is very narrow (in its height), which is inconvenient to use and looks awful.

Frequent Visitor


You're polishing and polishing on the outside and on the inside it is just getting worse and worse.

Why didn't you do ANY change to the address book since Office for Windows 3.11/95. I mean, 21st century and the AddressBook is the most dead application I can imagine! 

Screenshot 2021-01-12 104038.png

Like seriously you open it and you can do NOTHING, like literally NOTHING. You CAN'T click on Tabs to sort by title, location etc. default sort is by name. Search is primitive...
One has a choice to either use OWA or try a different platform. Stop polishing the externals and playing with cure buttons and ribbons and concentrate on actual functionality. Maybe you could learn a bit from Apple - OS release - 1-year: bugs, functionality and speed, 2-year: cosmetics.
We don't need unicorns and rainbows, we need an app that meets our productivity requirements and collaborations.
You invest so heavily in Teams - integrate. Or maybe, just maybe scrap Outlook and make Teams be the main communication/collaboration client.
It's been far too long... 

Occasional Contributor


You summed it up perfectly, the same goes for the outlook properties box of an email you cannot resize the window  to read the headers in that tiny screen!

outlook properties dialog box.png

  • You still can't easily share a centralised contact folder without messing around with public folders, or sharing a contact folder (which you then can't use as an available address book) etc ....
  • The office 365 group calendar in outlook does not show in teams
  • The office 365 group files tab in outlook is not the same one as in teams
  • You can't create a central shared calendar and have everyone get reminders without inviting everyone or adding that mailbox to your profile
  • The signature settings for outlook are not shared with outlook Web access 
  • Auto added mailboxes cannot automatically set the right signature when you reply from that address
  • Auto added mailboxes do not have independent control over the notifications for that mailbox
  • if a user shares their mailbox with you - you just get inbox by default, you can't access any of the sub folders like sent items etc, when you go to File -> open & export -> open other users folder
  • outlook open other users folder.png

these are all far more important than constantly tinkering around with icons and the ribbon


@PawelTomal @technonath You are so right guys. But honestly, you expect company that was trying to make IMAP to work correctly in Outlook for like a decade to act serious? I wouldn't keep my hopes high.

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‎Sep 11 2018 11:56 AM
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