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What you need to know about Outlook.com as Microsoft brings it out of preview

Mark Hachman | Feb. 18, 2016
Running your email as a web app can give you access to Microsoft's latest and greatest features for Outlook.

Microsoft has also begun to recognize that an email itself has a certain weight to it; if we send an email, it usually means something—there’s a document attached to it, for example, or it may include a formal request for assistance. Outlook.com now launches complementary Microsoft cloud services, alongside email.

Microsoft’s revamed Outlook.com allows you to open and work on a Word document right next to the email that discusses it.

For example, if you send a Word document, you don’t need to send the actual document; instead you can send a copy of the file that’s already stored in OneDrive, rather than downloading and re-uploading it to the Outlook.com service. (This works for Box and Dropbox, too.) And if you receive a Word document, Word Online will open the document in an adjoining pane, so you can work alongside it. 

Likewise, Microsoft now recognizes that email isn’t necessarily the most appropriate medium in certain situations. Perhaps your mother sends you an email, and you need to respond now; Outlook.com can trigger Skype calls and chats right in your browser.

Those are just the Microsoft-authored tools. A number of plugins now can be triggered right from the menu bar at the top of the screen. Did your buddy send you a teasing reminder that you skipped out on the check? Tap the PayPal icon at the top of the screen, and a sidebar pane will open and allow you to settle the bill. 

Microsoft’s added similar plugins for Uber (a code, OutlookLove, allows you to get a $20 discount), Wunderlist, Evernote, and Boomerang. You can also now embed cat GIFs with Giphy, and check out online reviews at Yelp. If you use the dedicated Office apps like Outlook 2015, you can get most of these via downloadable plugins at the Office Store

Look at the top of the Outlook screen for a list of plugins to integrate with your email.

Microsoft said moving Outlook.com to the Office 365 platform will help all the platforms work together better, but its online apps have always been test beds of sort for new features. Expect that to continue. “Email remains the backbone of digital communications in today’s world and we’re committed to making email awesome with Outlook experiences at home and at work—across all the devices you use,” according to Javier Soltero, vice president of the Outlook team, in a blog post. “Today’s milestone with Outlook.com is one more key step in that journey, and you can expect to see more improvements and enhancements over the coming months.”

 

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