Does Microsoft have Google envy?
After Google launched it’s own, new, algorithmic inbox sorter last year, many of us wondered how long it would take Microsoft, Google’s neighbor in soggy Seattle, to come up with their own version. It took about 6 months, but the FOCUSED inbox is here!
Microsoft Office 365 definitely made everything simpler than Google’s version by only dividing up our mailboxes into 2 parts: The Focused inbox and the Other inbox. Google has multiple tabs (see next paragraph), but all this change only makes sense if you trust algorithms and robots to do your email sorting for you. We, here at Cloud Advantage, appreciate robots (and sometimes dress like them for Halloween), but we don’t trust this one. So we went to work trying to figure out if we could turn Microsoft’s new inbox robot-thingy OFF. We just want the option to get back to the classic version that we know, and almost love.
FYI: Microsoft decided to follow suit with their own version of the divided mailbox model. Microsoft only has two: the FOCUSED Inbox and the OTHER Inbox. By comparison, Gmail has five mailboxes: INBOX, PROMOTIONS, SOCIAL, UPDATES and FORUMS.
Putting Focused Inbox to the Test
I, ever the rebel here at Cloud Advantage, decided that I would give the new Microsoft Focused Inbox a try for one of my private email addresses (I have 4). I kind of liked it at first, but soon the flaws were bumping into my eyeballs. After rejecting the new Google system a while back for my home email, I kinda’ felt like I was put back on the merry-go-round right after getting sick the first time.
Both companies decided they knew better than me about where my mail should go. They were both wrong. If I don’t know where to put my email, how could these conglomerates know? Yes, of course, they know everything about me including what kind of Chinese Food I order every Friday night, but this was too much! I want to turn the new Microsoft mailbox divider off so everything arrives happily in one inbox folder where it has always been. I want to be the one to sort it out. Or throw it away. Or ignore it.
The good news is that it is possible to turn the FOCUSED Inbox off, and we will show you how in just a minute. The bad news is that once the new inbox is launched for your email, the Focused and Other option is the default. Many millions of already frightened people will completely freak out as they desperately try to find the other half of their email.
This is not good. We all know how we “get” about our email when someone messes with it.
Our customers just want their email to work! They want to send and receive their messages. They want their mail to be simple. They don’t want their inbox to be re-arranged by a robot (even if it’s a robot with the best intentions). Are these victims of progress the people that Microsoft thinks they are helping as they try to compete with Google, and stay “cutting edge”?
The concept makes sense in our world of ever-increasing artificial intelligence… and way too much communication. With the likes of Constant Contact and MailChimp pumping out millions of emails each day, the need to divide and conquer important emails from promotional emails has reached critical mass. Today, I noticed that my OTHER inbox has over 5,000 emails and I just cleaned it out a few weeks ago! All those emails are not technically spam because believe it or not, most of my OTHER mail is from people I know, businesses I have contacted, previous customers, or social media contacts I would never remember otherwise.
This is how the Focused Inbox view initially looks:
To turn it off, click on Filter, then at the bottom, click “Show Focused Inbox” and remove the checkmark.
Oh No! What About My Phone?
Sorry to break the bad news, but your mobile devices have been thrown into this messy mix.
There are several ways to access your Office 365 Exchange Online mail on your phone.
OWA, the Outlook Mobile App, ActiveSync, or default email setup, to name a few. Not every phone app is compatible with the Focused Inbox, and in some situations, if the Focused Inbox is enabled, your phone app may only see the default inbox view (and some messages may be missing in action).
This is how the Focused Inbox looks on your phone’s Outlook App. The first time it opens, you’ll notice an introductory screen (shown below).
Next, you’ll notice that your inbox has two new tabs—FOCUSED, and OTHER.
Select “settings” in the bottom right corner. You will be redirected to a series of options surrounding your Outlook app. Click on the toggle switch next to “Focused Inbox” to turn it on and off.
Summary. I love competition and progress when it comes to technology, but I’m going back to bang my head against the focused wall.… or maybe I’ll just use my Etch-a-Sketch!