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Office 365 Clutter Feature Gets More Manageable

Microsoft has started to roll out a few management improvements to its Clutter service for Office 365 subscribers.

The Clutter service, which Microsoft released in November, is designed to clean up user in-boxes by moving e-mails deemed of low interest into a Clutter folder. The service uses a combination of machine learning, as well as user indications and actions, to "learn" what users don't consider of interest. It works with the Outlook and Outlook Web App clients for Office 365 subscribers and acts on messages that have passed through an organization's e-mail spam filters.

With its latest update to the Clutter service, Microsoft is adding three new controls for IT pros, the company announced this week. The improvements are rolling out to Office 365 subscribers now, but Microsoft plans to deliver the new capabilities to all of its Office 365 subscribers by month's end.

The first improvement lets IT pros specify exceptions when using the Clutter service. IT pros can now set up rules so that some messages won't go into the Clutter folder at all, which can be useful for legal compliance purposes. That's done by writing an Exchange "transport rule" with a condition, such as a particular word occurring in the e-mail's subject line. Next, IT pros specify an action to take, such as bypassing the Clutter service. Transport rules take effect when the message is in transit, instead of after it arrives in an in-box, according to a Microsoft Exchange library description. One catch is that IT pros need to configure these transport rules via PowerShell, as described in this article.

A second improvement is the ability to set "retention policy tags" for the Clutter folder. It's another potentially useful solution for organizations with e-mail compliance policies. These tags are applied to the Clutter default folder that exists in the Outlook client or Outlook Web App, allowing IT to set a retention period in days. They also specify an action to take, such as "delete and allow recovery" or "permanently delete," according to a Microsoft TechNet article, which shows a graphical user interface being used to create the tags.

Lastly, Microsoft made it easier for organizations to personalize system notifications to end users. An example might be the initial notice that gets sent to end users on how to use the Clutter feature. IT pros can specify the display name to use for such notifications. They also can set up a mailbox for end users to get these notifications. In a future update, Microsoft is promising the ability to add logos to the body of the message.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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