Microsoft spruces up Outlook in a bid to catch up with major G Suite upgrades

Revamped email platform features dark mode, snoozing and a new UI

Outlook is set to get a range of new features this month including a dark mode, a redesigned email experience and improvements to calendar synchronicity as part of a major overhaul of the platform.

Users of Microsoft's Office 365 email service will see a number of improvements to the way messages can be read, categorised and organised, the firm announced. Changes to calendar and meeting functionality, and a series of significant aesthetic tweaks, make up the full complement of changes.

The new Outlook will feature categories that make it easier to tag, find or organise messages, with users able to add multiple categories to a single message.

A favouriting mechanism, in which contacts, groups or entire categories can be highlighted, also offers easier access to certain aspects of any user's inbox. As with Gmail, meanwhile, users can also draft multiple emails on-the-go using 'tabs' that rest on the lower portion of the user interface (UI).

There's also a snooze function for emails that need to be dealt with later. Snoozing a message removes it temporarily from the inbox, with it reappearing as an unread message at top of the pile once the snooze period expires.

Among the most eye-catching features, however, is a new dark mode, which lets users personalise their UI for night-time or low-light browsing. The lights can be turned back on when reading a specific email or composing one by configuring this mode in the settings menu.

The firm's main rival in this space, Google, has spent the past year or so updating G Suite productivity suite, including a number of significant changes to Gmail, notably the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for predictive responses and inbox management.

Meanwhile, tweaks are also being made to Outlook's calendar functionality, including the ability to search across multiple calendars, as well as filters to adjust the parameters when hunting for a person or event.

It's also now possible to quickly create events and book rooms for meetings from the calendar surface on Outlook, while the 'week view' dedicates a larger screen area to today and tomorrow.

The changes will be implemented from in late July, with 'targeted release' customers no longer able to see an opt-in toggle that switches between the old Outlook and the beta version of the latest iteration.

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