Table of Contents
This One Outlook Build is Worthwhile
Updated 13 March 2023
In May 2022, a leaked build of Microsoft’s new One Outlook (“Monarch”) client emerged. A week or so later, Microsoft made an official beta available to members of the Office Insiders Beta Channel. At the time, I called Monarch a slightly prettier version of the OWA client available for Exchange Online, albeit one that missed important functionality.
A refreshed Monarch client is now available to all Office Insiders. Based on working with the new Monarch for a couple of days (and years of Outlook), it’s still a slightly prettier client. The big difference is that the new build is usable for real-life day-to-day work, especially if your preference is to use OWA rather than desktop Outlook.
Update: According to message center notification MC526128 (11 March 2023), users of the Current Channel for Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise will be able to try out the new client in early April, while those who use the Monthly Enterprise Channel will see it in May.
New Features Highlighted by Microsoft
This isn’t because of the features touted by Microsoft. I use Monarch with a Microsoft 365 account, not a Microsoft consumer account (OWA is more than sufficient to deal with my consumer email). The current build is still limited to a single account, but Microsoft says that support for multiple accounts is coming. I don’t use Quick Steps because my triage of email is simple: read and keep or delete immediately. And while I like the way that calendar gives the current day more space in calendar views, I couldn’t adjust the column width as promised. Every attempt resulted in Monarch trying to create a new event. Maybe it’s just me.
I did like the ability to customize the ribbon bar (Figure 1), if only because I could get rid of the button to move items to the dead-end street called the Archive folder. I’m not sure I think of the ribbon as having a sleeker look and feel, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
As you might expect, features that appeared in the previous build are still there. This includes support for Loop components, which didn’t appear in OWA and Monarch for some time after Microsoft issued the original beta. The same oddities appear with the Loop implementation, including adding the sender as a Cc recipient for messages and setting the sharing link for the Loop component to be read-only (Figure 2) if that’s what’s defined for files and folders in the organization sharing policy.
Sending out read-only sharing links makes little sense when email is used as a vehicle for collaboration, and it’s surely possible for Microsoft to come up with a way to allow organizations to implement a different sharing link policy for loop components used in OWA, Outlook for Windows, and Teams chat.
Microsoft’s blog post refers to the “new Outlook calendar board view.” This has been available in OWA since July 2021 after they decided that Outlook Spaces (the Moca project) wouldn’t move forward.
The post also refers to Sweep as a way to “to keep your Outlook inbox tidy.” This is another feature that appeared in OWA and then submerged to have more work done to improve its functionality before reappearing. I rather like Sweep because it’s an easy way to get rid of a lot of messages at one time. Select a sample message (in Figure 3 it’s a missed message notification from Teams) and with one click, the client moves all matching messages to a nominated target folder (Deleted Items is the default).
If you choose to use options other than an immediate move (like keep the latest but move everything else), Exchange Online creates a “sweep rule.” The rules are available in the Mail section of Outlook settings. They can also be seen by running the Get-SweepRule PowerShell cmdlet. Background processes run the sweep rules defined in mailboxes periodically, so don’t expect messages governed by these rules to disappear immediately after delivery.
Although OWA users will find it easy to switch to Monarch, offline access remains the big blocking factor for those who might consider switching from Outlook desktop clients. Offline access is on the list of features Microsoft plans to release in the coming months. Even in an always connected world, network outages do happen… and having that offline data to work with can be awfully important.
Keep up to date with developments like the development of One Outlook and the Monarch client by subscribing to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. Our monthly updates make sure that our subscribers understand the most important changes happening across Office 365.