I’m kicking off 30 Days with Office 365 experiment with a Day 1 post on my Outlook experience today. Being one of the more critical tools of my work day, I thought I’d start here and see how it goes. I definitely wasn’t new to OWA (Outlook Web Access), and felt fairly confident I would be ok for awhile working via the browser.
Login/Launch – I found the initial login/launch incredibly quick. The web page was responsive and I was in to my Inbox in seconds.
Touch Mode – On first login, the website asks me if I want to switch to desktop mode (instead of touch mode), and kindly asks me if I want to remember this setting. Since I’m on a touch-enabled laptop, I decided to stick with desktop mode for the first day.
Creating/Replying/Deleting – Creating a new message and replying were fast as expected. Same as with Outlook 2013, if I navigated away from a message (new or reply) a draft would be saved for me automatically.
Moving Messages – No issues moving messages into other folders. Right-click exposed a context menu just like in Outlook 2013 and drag-and-drop worked as well.
Browser Tab – There wasn’t an easy way to open a second tab for things. A fairly easy work-around, I simply created a second tab and navigated to the Calendar.
Threading – Every once and a while, this still throws me off. Threading works as expected, but if you fork a message, the threading does not portray this like it does in Outlook 2013. It just shows the messages in chronological order, which can give the impression that they were replies of one another, when in fact they just share the same subject. There are some dots to the left of the threads, but without an authoritative answer, I’m only guess what they mean.
Signature – I am also missing the ability to store multiple signatures, but this is very minor and hasn’t been an issue for me.
Multiple Email – Since I’m in the context of one user account, I don’t have the ability to view/send email from multiple accounts like I would in Outlook 2013. Easy work around was to have another tab open for my personal accounts. I didn’t actually do this method, and found myself using my phone more for this scenario.
Meeting Preview – With that out of the way, the Calendar functionality really is good. The single click preview is awesome.
Single Pane – The general ability to do almost everything in a single window is really productive.
Personal Calendar – The biggest downfall for me was the inability to overlay personal calendars. I have several calendars that I use and having multiple windows open for them is a bit of a hassle. However, this won’t be the case with everyone and my phone still does an excellent job of aggregating appointments so I can see free/busy across all of them.
I will cover the “People” update under the Lync overview, Day 5
Task Lists – Like Outlook 2013, Tasks are shown from Exchange, but can also be linked from SharePoint Online. With that, the same great “merged” view of different task lists
Message Followup – I rely on Tasks a lot for following up on email requests and a simple right click allows me to set a follow up flag for emails.
I really couldn’t find any thing that didn’t work.
The email search works as good as Outlook 2013. However, the filters aren’t easily identifiable. Here is a list of the filters that work:
|Searches the From field.
|Searches the To field.
|Searches the Cc field.
|Searches the Bcc field.
|Searches the To, Cc, and Bcc fields.
|Searches the subject.
|Body or Content
|Searches the message body.
|Searches the date sent. You can search for a specific date or a range of dates separated by two dots (..). You can also search for relative dates: Today, tomorrow, yesterday, this week, next month, last week, past month. You can search for the day of the week or month of the year.
|Searches for the date received. You can use the same search terms as for Sent.
|Searches the Category field.
|Searches for the specified attachment by title. For example, attachment:letter.doc will find any message with an attachment named letter.doc.
|Use has:flag to find items that are flagged.Use has:attachment to find items that have one or more attachments.
I found Touch Mode great for tablet like scenarios (triaging email, quick responses, managing calendar, etc). Though, I did have a little bit of trouble initially finding the option to switch back to desktop mode.
|Touch Mode On
|Touch Mode Off
All in all – it was a seamless transition for the day. No challenges navigating or working with the Outlook in the browser. I definitely did not experience any productivity loss, which was most important. I don’t think I would have any issues converting over to Outlook (online) long-term, especially with the anticipated release of Office 365 Groups, which will integrate with Yammer.
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