Microsoft Unveils UI Updates for, OneDrive for Business

Microsoft rolled out new user-centric features for its Web-based email and OneDrive for Business cloud storage service.

Users of Microsoft's Web-based email and OneDrive for Business cloud storage service will soon notice some user interface (UI) changes, along with expanded functionality, if they haven't already.

Currently in the process of issuing updates to both offerings, Microsoft is outlining how a bevy of new features and UI tweaks can help power users tame their inboxes and better manage their files. On the email front, Mike Schackwitz, principal director of program management, showed off his company's new time-saving additions, while revealing a couple of interesting statistics in the process.

"Billions of emails in are moved from one folder to another every week," introducing several opportunities for mistakes to happen, said Schackwitz in a company blog post. A new Undo button (or Ctrl+Z) makes it "even easier to undo mistakes in range of commands—delete, categorize, flag, mark as junk or move—for one email or a whole group," he said.

Microsoft also set out to help users get more organized with Advanced Rules.

"You can create multi-condition and multi-action rules and set your inbox to organize itself automatically. Advanced Rules allow you to combine your existing rules together and customize them to suit you," explained Schackwitz.

In a company-supplied example, Microsoft demonstrated how users can stack conditions that trigger a wide range of actions. For instance, users can instruct to flag emails from their contacts that have gone unread for a certain number of days, surfacing potentially important emails that may have been missed.

A new feature, called In-line Reply, allows users to respond to emails without launching a separate view. The time-saving feature could collectively add up to a significant time savings. " customers use the Reply button almost 8 million times a day," revealed Schackwitz.

Users of OneDrive for Business are being treated to a new Web interface that emphasizes quick access to the most used features. A new touch- and mouse-friendly pod, called Simple Controls, gathers several popular functions (new, upload, sync, edit, manage and share) into a menu that persists across several views.

Site Folders displays the SharePoint Online document libraries that users are following. OneDrive for Business also begins to generate search results, along with in-context options like sharing documents while users type out their queries.

Incidentally, the search box has been moved to the upper left "for greater consistency across the Office 365 experience," Mark Kashman, a Microsoft SharePoint senior product manager, said in a statement. The placement of profile pictures and the recycling have been changed to provide more visibility.

The OneDrive for Business updates are currently being rolled out in a process that is expected to take weeks. Office 365 users may notice that their UIs don't match those of their colleagues, even if they belong to the same organization. "It is possible that users' peers in the same company tenant may see the changes at different times, depending on how we update the various farms, tenants and users in Office 365," explained Microsoft.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...