Back a few days ago, Microsoft published the Outlook Web App as a progressive web app. Basically, it means you can now install the OWA app in any chromium based browser (e.g., Google Chrome) as an app and use it in a more commonly way.
Wait, why should I install a web app if I already use the client?
Well, that is an excellent question to ask, but it is pretty easy. Outlook on the web has some really cool features you don’t want to miss in your daily life!
Some OWA advantages over the classic one
You have the choice of using the directly integrated To Do features! You can, for example, click on the top right hand on the small icon with the well known To Do tick, and your “My Day schedule” pops up at the right of your calendar. From there, you can drag and drop tasks from different lists onto your calendar, and there will be auto-created events where you can achieve your To Do’s – how great is that?
Even though I don’t really recommend to use the whole To Do app because it takes some time to load, I think it is great to have it all together in case you need it.
I can’t tell you why but I think in some cases, it’s more intuitive to control than the classic experience even though I used it for many years now. The OWA controls fit better in the general operating concept we get with the other Office 365 apps and services. For example, I feel the overall design is more similar to the iOS App I use very often, and I can find myself navigating more straightforward in the OWA than in the classic experience. In addition to that, the usability is excellent! Even though we are still “in a browser app”.
Of course, things like “Charm” in the calendar is a really decisive thing. Just kidding, but I think those small features make a difference and are also pretty useful to stay on top of a busy schedule! Another useful feature is pining mails just like you pin channels in Microsoft Teams. You can pin emails to the top of the current folder, so you don’t have to search for them anymore. In addition to that there is an update rolling out which shows you room cards where you can discover additional information about the room you are about to book – check it out.
Also, there are some other smart features you will notice once starting to work with it – I promise! If you can’t wait you can also have a look at this video from Microsoft for some more features.
Okay, cool, you sold me on it. How can I get it?
First of all, you need a chromium-based browser like Chrome, for example. Then just go to your office.com page and log in as usual. After clicking on your Outlook app icon in the app launcher, your new tab pops up, and OWA is starting.
If you look closely, you will notice an additional icon in your browser’s address bar. It looks like a small circle with a + in it, as you can see in the screenshot down below.
After hitting the icon Chrome will prompt you with an install request. Just hit “Install” and let the magic happen – now you are good to go! In my case, there was also a desktop shortcut created, which I used to stick it to the taskbar.
What I think
In my opinion, it is somehow a bit slimmer and more modern in many ways. Personally, however, it has kept me from working in the browser environment for a long time, I know it sounds stupid, but it didn’t feel as enjoyable and productive as in the classic client. For a few days, I have replaced my client with the progressive web app, and I am really excited!
Of course, there are, for sure, features that are not supported in the OWA app yet. In case you are using those, you may want to stick with the classic experience for a bit longer. In my daily life, I barely switch back to the classic Outlook and stay most of the time in my progressive web app.
Just a small tip: If you really want to switch, replace your shortcuts in the taskbar with the alternative to the progressive web app. Humans are creatures of habit, and if you leave the classic Outlook sitting there, you will continue to use it!
The best thing? If you do not like it, you can get back to the classic version every time within the snap of a finger. But give it a chance!