Microsoft has reportedly been working on an updated mail client for desktop platforms, based on the company’s Outlook service. Now we have our first look at the app in action.
Windows Central shared images on Friday of the in-development Outlook email client running on Windows. Even though Microsoft’s Outlook email service has offered Android and iPhone/iPad apps for years now, there has never been a desktop app except the Outlook application included in Microsoft Office and the Microsoft 365 subscription. That version of Outlook is more complicated, and isn’t available for free like the mobile apps.
The screenshots look nearly identical to the Outlook web app, likely confirming earlier reports that the app is based on web technologies. There’s a tab bar on the left side with buttons for mail, calendar, contacts, and some Microsoft services, and a similar column-based layout as Apple Mail and Gmail on Android tablets and iPads. A few differences compared to the web app are visible, though — there’s a ribbon along the top that can be configured to look more like the classic Outlook app, and the search bar is integrated into the window title bar.
Notably, this isn’t supposed to replace the classic Outlook client for Mac and Windows — at least not anytime soon. Even though Outlook.com can sync with multiple (or third-party) email accounts, much like Gmail on the web and mobile, there are countless power-user features that aren’t accessible in web Outlook (which this is based on).
We first heard about a possible Outlook.com desktop app back in January 2021, when Windows Central reported that Microsoft was building a universal Outlook app for Mac and Windows. The app is also expected to replace the Mail & Calendar apps on Windows 10 and 11, which is somewhat of a mixed bag. It’s not great that Microsoft is replacing even more native Windows apps with a web-based application, considering it will probably need to stay running in the background at all time to receive new messages — possibly leading to more memory usage than the existing Outlook or Windows Mail apps. There’s also no sign of Microsoft’s ‘Fluent’ design language that is present on many Windows 11 apps, but the design might change before the final release.
The pre-release version is already available for work and education accounts (download link), but it doesn’t work if you have a normal Microsoft account.
Source: Windows Central