Microsoft wants email to learn some tricks from social media. The company today announced it’s bringing Likes and @Mentions to Outlook on the Web.
Indicated by the classic thumbs-up, Microsoft says the Likes are meant to help you endorse a specific email, or bring attention to it.
Or as on Facebook, it could simply be used to acknowledge you’ve read something or empathize with it, without having to type a full response.
As you might expect, you’ll receive a notification when someone likes an email, and it will show up highlighted a top the message.
Meanwhile, you can also tag people with the @ symbol in the body of an email. It will automatically pull up contacts to use, and if you haven’t already included them as an email recipient, it Outlook will automatically add them to the ‘To:’ field.
Tagged people will be highlighted in blue, and messages they are tagged in will be flagged in their Inbox to make them easily identifiable. You can also filter emails to only include the ones you’re tagged in.
It’s not hard to see why the features would be useful; Likes can make it easy to feel involved in a long company thread, without having to respond to everyone or carefully word an email, while Mentions can help ensure your colleagues attention instead of just hoping they’ll read a message.
On the other hand, if you’re a manager or head of a company, an overabundance of likes from employees could also quickly get annoying. Others might just prefer the quiet nature of traditional email, which contrasts from social media in that there are less expectations of interaction.
It won’t be available to everyone from today though:
The Like feature in Outlook on the web will begin to roll out today to Office 365 First Release customers whose Office 365 plan includes Exchange Online. We expect the feature to roll out broadly to eligible Office 365 commercial customers starting in late October. The Mention feature will begin rolling out to First Release customers in mid-October and broadly to all eligible Office 365 commercial customers in mid-November.
In addition, our Outlook.com users who have been migrated to the new version of the service will start seeing Mentions in the December time frame as well.
We expect to roll out the Mention feature to the Office 2016 clients for Windows and Mac, as well as Outlook for iOS and Android, in the first half of 2016. We will provide updates in the expected availability of the Like feature at a later date.
In other words, the average Outlook user won’t be able to get in on the fun until December.
Still, given years of conditioning by Facebook and Twitter, we’d expect Outlook users to immediately start using Likes and Mentions. Frankly, it’s surprising that major email providers haven’t provided this sort of functionality before.
➤ Likes and @Mentions coming to Outlook on the web [Outlook]