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New Outlook for Windows 11 Arriving Now for Organizations

Organizations are getting the preview version, with the word "preview" removed.

Microsoft this week announced that the new Outlook for Windows 11 is now at the "general availability" release stage for personal account users, but it's also arriving for organizations as a so-called "enterprise ready" release.

Earlier this month, Microsoft Outlook team members had indicated that it might take Microsoft two years to get the new Outlook for Windows ready for organizations. Those straightforward declarations now seem to have gotten plowed over with the consumer release of the product, which also brings a commercial release for organizations. Microsoft did suggest back then that organizations using enterprise channel releases of Microsoft 365 could see the new app, though.

Microsoft doesn't define what an "enterprise ready" release is, but, in the case of the new Outlook for Windows, it's actually a preview release with the word, "preview," removed. Here's Microsoft's statement to that effect, as described in this post for Microsoft 365 administrators:

Although the “PRE” tag will be removed from the new Outlook for Windows, work and school accounts are still in preview.

Microsoft further explained that the release of the personal version of the new Outlook for Windows signaled a commercial-customer product release, too. Here's that statement:

We recently announced the general availability of the new Outlook for Windows for personal accounts. This means that the new Outlook for Windows will start showing up, with the recently introduced redesigned icon, in both personal and commercial Windows 11 devices starting on 9/21.

Consumer and Commercial Releases
Usually, a consumer Microsoft product release does not imply a commercial product release, too. They typically get announced separately. However, Microsoft seems to be adopting a new sneaky release tactic to get organizations using previews.

Such a tactic has been seen before. For instance, earlier this year, Microsoft gave advance notice that Outlook Web links will open in the Microsoft Edge browser by default, despite personal browser choices. That notice was originally announced as a change for Microsoft 365 Personal or Family edition users. However, Microsoft later indicated via a Message Center post that the new default behavior also applied to organizations using business Microsoft 365 products, and IT pros would need to make a configuration change in advance to block the new behavior, if wanted.

Administrative Controls
Microsoft's post for admins lays out various options to use policies to block the arrival of the new Outlook for Windows, if wanted. Apparently, what gets blocked by policy is a "toggle" switch option that will appear in the old Outlook for Windows client. End users will see this toggle switch located on the top right corner of the old application.

Microsoft has also released management capabilities for the new Outlook for Windows, which can be found in Administrative Template files "from build 16.0.5401.1000."

Microsoft explained that the new Outlook for Windows can be managed much like the Outlook on the Web client, noting that "since the new Outlook shares codebase with Outlook on the web, most of the same policies that apply to Outlook on the web also apply to the new Outlook."

The new Outlook for Windows brings a new user interface and will ship with new devices running Windows 11 version 23H2 or higher next year as the default installed application. The new Outlook for Windows application will displace the Mail and Calendar apps that are seen in present-day Windows 11 releases. However, the Mail and Calendar apps will still be available as a "download in the Microsoft Store through the end of 2024," Microsoft explained, at its FAQ page.

New Outlook for Windows Features
There are lots of perks in the new Outlook for Windows, but Microsoft's admin post admitted that "for some organizations it may lack some of the familiar features from the classic Outlook for Windows at this time."

The new Outlook for Windows can bring together the e-mails and calendar details from other service providers, such as "Outlook.com, Hotmail.com, Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, or a provider that uses IMAP (or all of the above)."It has a "My Day" calendar view, which gets automatically updated via e-mail confirmations. E-mails can be pinned or set for "snooze." The delivery of e-mails can be timed for when a recipient might be active. It has a "sweep" function to set rules for cleaning up in-boxes. Spam and malware filtering gets used, and subscribers will also get "end-to-end message encryption."

Personal or Family Microsoft 365 subscribers will get access to artificial intelligence (AI) support for spelling and grammar checks when writing e-mails via the Microsoft Editor feature. Microsoft also is planning to add "other advanced AI features" at a later date to the app.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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