OK so now that we have the Office 2013 Public Preview available and the general and deep dive sessions at Ignite become available Online, I guess it’s time to do a quick review on all the new functionality we will get with Outlook 2016. Being the lazy type however, I will refer you to this wonderful session presented by Sangya Singh and Misbah Uraizee, and will add some comments that build on that.
The best feature from my perspective is undoubtfully ADAL support, and god knows we have waited for this a long time. Not only it will support additional auth factors, it will put an end to the Basic auth scenarios and will bring true SSO (across all Office 2016 apps!). There are still some issues with it in the current implementation, but they are working on those.
One of the things Microsoft emphasizes in the new release are Modern Groups. If you are reading this blog, you are familiar with Office 365 and you should already have some experience with Groups, and you are most likely aware of the vision Microsoft has for them. If not, you should definitely review the Groups overview and the Groups deep dive sessions. We already have support for Groups in the current preview version of Outlook 2016 and some new features will come in the future. Funnily enough, Groups still don’t have a proper icon in the Address book and do not display membership if you check the properties of the object there (the Contact card does show membership though). One thing on which Microsoft is yet to deliver however are appropriate admin controls. These include not only more ‘server-side’ features such as controls in the EAC or PowerShell cmdlets, but also GPO support for the feature so it can be controlled client-side if needed.
The next big thing is Modern attachments – share a file as a link to OneDrive (both consumer or ODfB) or SharePoint document. We also saw one bit not currently present in the Preview version – the ability to Save an attachment to OneDrive directly from Outlook. This *should* get even more emphasis if you ask me, as it seems to me that it’s a bit hidden away in the UI.
Next, we have Search. While the reasoning behind the changes is sound, the implementation in the current version fails to deliver. I’ve experienced a lot of oddities with the search feature in it’s current state, but the version we saw on the Ignite session is from a newer build, which we are yet to receive, so perhaps I shouldn’t comment on it now I guess. Still, what was left unanswered is how search will work against additional mailboxes, archive mailboxes, additional accounts, etc.
Clutter support is also coming to Outlook 2016, which shouldn’t come as surprise now that Microsoft have announced plans to turn on Clutter by default for new mailboxes. Again, there are some things to be desires from administrative point of view, but we have promises on them.
Some of the other improvements that were announced include HTML support for meetings, improved ‘adjustability’ of the GUI across devices, themes (remember the outcry when we practically had no choice?), improved support for add-ins.
And one of the ‘bad’ things is that support for manually configuring Exchange account has been removed. Autodiscover is your only option now, and this should come as no surprise. Since the announcement of Exchange 2013, Autodiscover has become mandatory requirement for supportability, and with 2016 we will now have some more changes that further increase the importance of getting the latest configuration via Autodiscover. Sadly, this means that one of my more popular articles will have to be retired 🙂