Inspired by the company's Outlook.com webmail service, Microsoft's Windows 8.1 operating system update will include a default email app that is designed with tablet users in mind.
A new Mail app awaits Windows 8.1 users when it is wrote Dawn Martynuik, director of Outlook.com Product Marketing in a blog post. She added that one of Outlook.com's most popular features, Sweep, "is coming to the Mail app exclusively for people with an Outlook.com email account."
Sweep is a time-saving option that automates common email tasks and allows users to organize their inboxes. By invoking Sweep, users can move or delete all emails from a certain sender in one fell swoop. Users can optionally set Sweep rules for future emails or schedule the deletion of emails from certain senders after 30, 60 or 90 days. Other Outlook.com integrations include automatic replies and newsletter and social update categories that automatically organize emails fitting those criteria into separate views, further uncluttering the main inbox.
Mobile devices and their increased use also factored into the redesigned Mail app. Ryan Gavin, general manager Microsoft Apps and Services, wrote in a Windows Experience Blog post that "email is one of the most frequently performed activities for consumers on a tablet." Data collected by Microsoft backs up those claims.
Gavin wrote that a majority of Outlook.com users (68 percent) access their Outlook.com accounts on a mobile device and that more people use the webmail service on a smartphone or tablet than in an Internet browser.
Indicating that the service is growing fast, he added that "Outlook.com mobile usage has tripled in the last year." On May 2, the company reported "over 400 million active Outlook.com accounts, including 125 million that are accessing email, calendar and contacts on a mobile device using Exchange ActiveSync," according to Outlook.com Group Program Manager Dick Craddock.
As a reflection of these mobile trends, Microsoft is touting the touch-enabled strides the company made with the Mail app for Windows 8.1. "Building for touch brought a wide range of improvements across the Mail app in Windows 8.1," wrote Gavin.
Among the enhancements are "easier ways to select one or more messages" using checkboxes and the new ability to drag-and-drop messages into a folder. The app bar has been rearranged to offer faster access to new features and now also sports a message preview.
A new feature called the "power pane" adds a dash of intelligence to help users further organize their inboxes. The Mail app populates the Frequent view within the People menu by analyzing an inbox and identifying contacts that keep in regular touch.
Business users will "find support for advanced IT policies (like authenticated proxies and special certificates), thanks to our complete implementation of the EAS protocol," Gavin wrote. New multi-account features help users juggle personal and work emails, he added.