Outlook on the web gets new people experience for increased productivity

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The Outlook team has announced today several new features for Office 365 business customers using Outlook on the web. According to the blog post, these improvements which make the web app smarter are powered by Microsoft Graph, the company’s unified API endpoint for accessing data coming from the Microsoft cloud.

Improvements to contacts cards and the contact pane

You can now bring up contact cards by simply hovering your mouse over an individual’s name. Each contact card will display the person’s job title, who they report to, recent email, as well as shortcuts for sending an email, IM, place a call or creating a calendar appointment.

Outlook Contact Cards.

Additionally, the new Contact pane which is opened each time you click on a name in the Mail, Calendar, or People view now displays more useful information on your contacts such as reporting structure, who your contacts commonly work with, Office 365 Groups and more. “Because the Contact pane slides out in your existing Outlook window, you are able to maintain the flow of your work without managing pop-ups and tabs,” explains the Outlook team.

The new contact pane.

Improved search in the Mail, Calendar and People modules.

The search box in the Mail, Calendar, and People modules can now give you more relevant search results based on your past communications. Moreover, Outlook on the web can now figure out how names are spelled:

If you frequently communicate with Sarah Davis, typing an “S” or “D” in the search box will bring up her name first—even if her name is not alphabetically first in your company’s directory. Outlook knows Sarah is likely the person you are searching for as she is the most relevant person to you based on your communications, collaborations and business relationship.

In addition, we extended “fuzzy name” matching to Outlook search to catch common variations in how names are spelled. For example, an Outlook search for “John” will also will bring up “Jon” or “Katheryn” in addition to “Catherine.”

A more useful Contact list in the People module

The People module is getting a new “Featured People” section that includes dynamic smart lists that make it easier to find people by favorite interaction mode (email, shared meetings or more). Additionally, the Contacts lists now features a cleaner look and it’s now easier to see names, email address, job titles, and office numbers.

The new Contact list.
The new Contacts list.

The Outlook team says that these new features are currently rolling out to Office 365 First release customers. In the coming weeks, they will start rolling out worldwide to all Office 365 commercial subscriptions that include Outlook on the web including Business, Enterprise and EDU plans. Eventually, all these new features will make their way to other Office 365 products as well including Outlook on the desktop.