UPDATED 06:12 EDT / OCTOBER 01 2015


About time too: Microsoft’s Outlook gets all Facebooky with new Likes and @mention feature

Microsoft is taking a leaf out of Facebook’s, er, book, and is now adding a Like and @mention feature to its Outlook on the Web. The Like function, says Microsoft, can be triggered in the reading pane by clicking on the ‘thumbs up’ symbol and thereby endorsing or showing your support for a particular email or statement in that email. Anybody who is on the email thread will be able to see the Like, and if your message within that thread has been Liked you will receive a notification.

In an Outlook blog post Microsoft said, “Email is a great way to share and collaborate on ideas, make plans and drive consensus with friends and coworkers. Email threads often grow in length with any number of suggestions, thoughts and counter-points added through the course of a discussion.”

Much more useful, and less of what sometimes feels like added pressure relating to Likes, is the @mention feature. During email exchanges with numerous people you can now simply call out a specific person within the group. ‘@Mike What do you mean I slept through the meeting, I was merely meditating on your words.’ This is the kind of feature that should prove to be a good asset to Outlook, and it’s surprising really that email has taken so long to do this.

You can also add someone to an email thread using @mention who is not one of the original recipients, thereby bringing someone in who might be able to add something to the conversation. That person will be notifed and become part of the thread. In the body of an email add the @ symbol and your contacts will come into view. Once selected they will then receive an @ sign in their inbox notifying them their input is needed. If someone is popular a @ person they will also be able to sort through all their @ messages.

Microsoft says: “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.” Late in October Office 365 commercial customers can expect to see the feature, while @mention will be available for First Release customers in mid-October, and commercial customers mid-November. Outlook.com users who are using the new version of the service will start seeing @mention in December.

Office 2016 clients for Windows and Mac and Outlook for iOS and Android will have to wait until sometime at the beginning of 2016 for @Mention, while Microsoft says the Likes will come at a later date.

Photo credit: Microsoft

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