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Microsoft One Outlook: Big Changes Coming in 2021 and Beyond

Big changes are coming to one of the most popular email clients in the world. Microsoft Outlook for Windows and Microsoft Outlook for Mac are both going universal and will eventually be largely based on the already available Outlook Web app. According to Windows Central, the changes are being called the “end-goal” for the Microsoft One Outlook vision of having a single Outlook version for Mac, PC, and the Web.

In making the changes, Microsoft plans to standardize the Outlook app experience across all platforms and the Mail and Calendar apps on Windows 10. Through a project called “Monarch,” the process will allow Microsoft to transition Outlook to one app built with web technologies. In 2022, this standardization will conclude with the same app on all three platforms, Windows, macOS, and the Web.

By offering a single product with the same user experience, Microsoft hopes to “have a much smaller footprint and be accessible to all users whether they’re free Outlook consumers or commercial business customers,” according to the report.

Window Central’s Zac Bowden explains:

I’m told the app will feature native OS integrations with support for things like offline storage, share targets, notifications, and more. I understand that it’s one of Microsoft’s goals to make the new Monarch client feel as native to the OS as possible while remaining universal across platforms by basing the app on the Outlook website.

One Outlook Vision

Availability

Users don’t necessarily have to wait until next year to experience the new app. Instead, Microsoft is likely to offer a preview version before the end of 2021. Only in 2022 will the Mail and Calendar apps on Windows 10 get discontinued.

To get a feel for the cross-platform Microsoft Outlook experience, you can log into your account Outlook account via your web browser, then install a Mail Progressive Web App (PWA) through Edge Chromium or Google Chrome.

To install on Edge:

  1. Visit the Outlook website.
  2. Click Sign In at the top right. If you don’t already have an account, you can click Create Free Account and follow the directions.
  3. Log into your account with your information.
  4. Select at the top right of the screen.
  5. Choose Apps.
  6. Click Install Outlook.

Install Outlook

On Google Chrome:

  1. Visit the Outlook website.
  2. Click Sign In at the top right. If you don’t already have an account, you can click Create Free Account and follow the directions.
  3. Log into your account with your information.
  4. Click on the Customize and Control button at the top right of the screen.
  5. Choose Install Outlook …

Looking Ahead

For this year, Microsoft’ likely to still release maintenance updates for each Outlook version and Mail and Calendar apps. The first preview version of the new integrated app should arrive for testing before December. The final update should launch sometime in 2022.

Back to the Windows Central report:

I’m told that the existing apps will get a minor UI update later this year to bring them in-line with other UI updates going on with Windows 10’s big Sun Valley update, but the apps themselves will eventually be replaced by Monarch.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft tried to unify its mail offerings. During the days of Windows 8, as ZDNet noted, Microsoft considered the built-in Windows Mail and Calendar apps the future of email. When that didn’t work, it started adding the newest features to the web version of Outlook before anywhere else. At the same time, it continued to maintain Windows Mail and Calendar apps while also offering different versions of Outlook for Windows, Mac, iPhone,iPad, and Android-based devices.

Microsoft One Outlook looks like a worthy goal and one that could find great popularity across multiple platforms. And yet, the devil will be in the details. In its post, Windows Central admits Microsoft could change its plans between now and 2022. Assuming things do run smoothly and a universal Outlook app appears next year, perhaps Microsoft will try the same thing with other apps in its library such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Time will tell where things go from here. Hopefully, in one direction!

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