Microsoft Adds Intelligence to Windows 10's Mail and Calendar Apps

New updates bring some of Outlook's most popular, productivity-enhancing features to the stock email and calendar apps for Windows 10.

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One of the most popular features in the Outlook mobile apps is coming to the built-in Mail app for Windows 10.

The stock email application is getting a major upgrade, Microsoft announced this week. The company is currently rolling out an update that brings the Focused Inbox to the operating system's bundled Mail app. Focused Inbox hails from the company's Outlook mobile apps from iOS and Android, which in turn are based on the popular Acompli email app Microsoft acquired in late 2014.

The feature will also be available to all users of the Outlook.com web email client and Mac users in April. The release data for Outlook 2016 on Windows is still up in the air as Microsoft works to polish the feature.

Focused Inbox helps combat email clutter. Essentially, it monitors and analyzes a user's inbox, automatically filtering its contents into two tabs. The Focused tab collects emails from important senders, like bosses, colleagues and friends. The rest appear under the Other tab.

"Emails that you likely want to act on appear under the Focused tab, while the rest remain easily accessible—but out of the way," explained Lynn Ayres, group program manager of Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps at Microsoft, in a blog post. "What lands in your Focused tab is determined by an understanding of the people you interact with often, and the content of the email itself (e.g. newsletters, machine generated email, etc.)."

Mentions, which is another feature borrowed from Outlook, is also making its way to the Mail app.

Users can now type the @ symbol within the body of an email to include other recipients. When the app detects the @ sign, it displays a list of frequent contacts and provides access to the full address book. If the mentioned contact isn't already part of the conversation, Mail adds that person to the To: field.

The new Focused Inbox and Mentions features currently work with Outlook.com and Office 365 accounts. Microsoft is planning to add support for other email providers down the line, said Ayres.

The Calendar app is also getting some upgrades, including a new Interesting Calendars option. Similar to Holiday Calendars, the Bing-powered feature allows users to track TV schedules and sports teams. Also new are color-coded categories, enabling users to better organize their events.

A new notification system now displays summary cards for travel reservations and package deliveries in both the Mail inbox and Calendar. In addition to viewing flight times, duration and other details, the cards contain links to flight check-ins and delivery-tracking status updates.

New options allow users to enhance their calendar invitations. While composing an appointment, Calendar will pull Bing location suggestions and display a contact picker to speed up the process. It also offers the option to schedule a Skype-based online meeting and helps Office 365 users agree on suitable meeting times with a scheduling assistant.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...