Outlook
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JP Mercier

Outlook 2013: Is It Upgrade Worthy?

Outlook 2013 has just been released by Microsoft. And that means all SherWeb’s Hosted Exchange 2007, 2010 and 2013 customers can now download and start using Outlook 2013 as of now.

Microsoft is promising that Outlook 2013 will make our busy lives easier and more efficient with the improved management of emails, schedules, contacts and social networks—not to mentioned our ever-growing to-do lists.

Does Outlook 2013 live up to Microsoft’s promises? More importantly, how will it affect your Hosted Exchange 2013 experience? And even more importantly, is it upgrade-worthy?

Here’s an overview of some of the key requirements for Outlook 2013, as well the more notable changes…

What’s New in Outlook 2013

- A Cleaner, Uncluttered Look

Microsoft has kept most things in the same place for Outlook 2013, which will make upgrades relatively painless. It has also made a few small design changes (many of them courtesy of its recently-launched Windows 8).

The good news? Most of these changes make viewing and using email, contacts and calendars easier:

- Faster email replies

Instead of clicking on “Reply” to pop open a new email, you can simply start typing and reply in the message itself. If you need to click away in the middle of responding, your reply will be automatically saved as a draft, and will be indicated as such.

- Helpful quick peeks

Thanks to new Peek features, you no longer have to switch views to see your calendar, contacts or other areas. What’s more, you can quickly access specific information by hovering your mouse over the mode buttons—a pop-up window appears:

- Easier access to contact information from social networks

The Contacts section has been renamed “People” and now includes a “People” view. The social connector is better integrated, with more unified contact data: mail contacts are cross-referenced with their social network data. In Outlook 2010, pulling contact information from various social networks resulted in multiple entries per person. Outlook 2013 fixes this with People cards, which is the new default view for contacts. These cards merge information to eliminate duplicate entries and are available across more Office 2013 apps. When available, your contacts’ profile pictures, job information, and additional information are also shown.

- No more forgotten attachments

Everyone will love this feature because we’ve all sent emails without attachments. No more. If you mention the word “attachment” in the body of your email, MailTips will let you know if the attachment is missing. If you’re trying to send an urgent message to someone, MailTips will also let you know if that person is currently able to receive email. That way, you can decide if you want to send an email or contact him or her another way.

- Embedded weather in calendar

Sure, we won’t always need the weather feature in the calendar view of Outlook 2013, but it’ll be handy to have when we do. This feature displays the weather forecast for the next few days for one (or more) locations.

Now, if only they could ensure the forecasts are correct…

- Touch-friendly

Like Office 2013 suite and Windows 8, Outlook 2013 is touch-friendly. Now you can pinch to zoom on items, or hold your finger on it to see available options.

- Better email searches

When searching through emails, a new search location filter lets you search between the current folder, the current mailbox, all mailboxes, etc. A quick filter also lets you toggle between all your mail and just your unread mail.

-Quick deletes

Kudos to Microsoft for making deleting unwanted emails faster. Now we no longer have any excuse for letting our inbox spiral out of control.

    Compatibility

Here’s what Outlook 2013 supports:

- Mailboxes supported by Outlook 2013

Supported:

Exchange (including Outlook Anywhere)

 IMAP

POP3

Microsoft's ActiveSync API used by smartphones and tablets for push mail, contact and calendar sync, etc. (ActiveSync is natively supported by Exchange, although Outlook is set by default to use Outlook Anywhere with Exchange servers.)

 

- Versions of Windows supported by Outlook 2013

Supported:
Windows 7
Windows 8
Release preview of Windows 8

Not supported:
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Consumer Preview of Windows 8

- Versions of Hosted Exchange supported by Outlook 2013

Supported:
Hosted Exchange 2013
Hosted Exchange 2010
Hosted Exchange 2007

- Better control of offline mail caching for Exchange users
Unlike the binary toggle in Outlook 2010 that simply specified whether mail was cached for offline use or not, Outlook gives you more control by letting you determine just how far back offline mail should be cached. This is done with a simple slider. By default, it’s set for one year, but can be easily changed from one month to forever.

Final word? Upgrade worthy!

Outlook 2013 is by no means groundbreaking, but it does have a number of useful improvements and new features that users will appreciate—and regularly use. All in all, it’s a better application and definitely upgrade-worthy.

Good to know:

• SherWeb customers using earlier versions of Outlook can upgrade at no additional cost (no cost to upgrade, same monthly license cost).
• For customers not currently running Outlook, we offer plans at $1.50/user/month.
• More information on Outlook 2013 can be found on our support website at support.sherweb.com.

When do you expect to be using a touch-screen desktop? Within the next year? Within 5 years?

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JP Mercier

About JP Mercier

JP is SherWeb’s community manager. He has been working for IT companies since 2010, in both the software and cloud computing industry. JP has a degree in communication and specializes in online marketing. As a good Canadian, he is (overly) polite and loves hockey.

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