Outlook is Microsoft’s email client solution, offering users the ability to access their email from a software program installed on their desktop, a mobile and tablet app, or via a web browser. The Outlook desktop email client has been the professional email solution of choice for businesses since its popularity rose in the late 90s. Outlook is more than just an email solution though; it also includes a robust calendar application, task management, contact management, notes application, and more. Work more efficiently by having all of these business productivity features in one place, integrated with one another. Users also have the ability to connect an Outlook account with Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint to facilitate collaboration within a group, sharing mailboxes and calendars. Organizations now have the power to work together more efficiently and with greater visibility. Outlook is great for anyone looking for a robust email, calendar, contact, and task management tool.
Microsoft Outlook's capabilities
Microsoft Outlook’s extensive features, app integration, and reliability make it the professional mail and calendar management industry standard
It has long been the front runner for business-based email clients. Since offering mobile versions such as Outlook on the web (previously Outlook Web Access [OWA]) and the Outlook app for iOS and Android, Microsoft has made this tool portable and more user-friendly. Now, critical business does not only have to be done in front of your work computer. You can schedule a teleconference for tomorrow morning from your phone and send and receive important emails after hours, all from your mobile device or home computer. One of Microsoft Outlook’s biggest hurdles has been keeping up with more mobile-based email providers like Google. Microsoft, never to be outdone, has upped its portability while remaining the most robust email and calendar provider on the market.Outlook’s features simply cannot be overstated. The complexity of its mailbox options alone are impressive.
Like all Microsoft programs, features are sorted by tabs and toolbars across the top of the interface. Users can execute all the basic email features (send, reply, reply all, forward, save as draft, mark as important, mark as unread, mark as spam, etc.). What really sets the Outlook desktop interface apart is its unique features such as comprehensive folder structures, permissions, and organization, mailbox view customization, integrated help features, training, and diagnostics. Its integration with other relevant tools such as Microsoft OneNote, Adobe Acrobat, and countless other available add-ins add to its appeal. That’s just the mailbox differentiators.
Calendar management is a breeze with Outlook’s capabilities. Users can schedule meetings, invite attendees (as mandatory or optional), share their calendar, create private appointments, add location and dial-in meeting information, check the weather, and even integrate with Microsoft Teams. Teams is Microsoft’s premiere chat and business collaboration tool where users can instant message, audio call, video call (one-on-one or in a group), share files and folders, and more. Teamwork flows with the ability to schedule a meeting in Outlook, integrate it with the Teams add-in, and join the conference call via the integrated Outlook calendar within Teams. Manage both tasks and contacts within Outlook as well, organizing each in unique ways.
Users can create virtual business cards for their contacts within Outlook, share contacts, create group contacts, aliases, and more. The Tasks feature helps keep the procrastinators on track with the ability to manually create custom tasks and to-dos or to automatically extract them from important flagged emails.The Outlook email client is hosted on an organization’s exchange server, while Outlook on the web (Exchange Online) is hosted on Microsoft servers within the cloud. Outlook for desktop is part of the Office 365 subscription or as a standalone software download. The Outlook web version is available via web browser for free, with limited functionality compared to the installed, paid version.
Where can you run this program?
Microsoft Office 365 (subscription) is compatible with Windows 7, 8.1, 10 or macOS 10.10 or greater. Outlook for desktop (software installation only) is compatible with Windows 10 or Xbox One.
Is there a better alternative?
As expected, Microsoft Outlook’s two main competitors are Apple and Google products. Many companies are connecting their business domains with an email account that can be accessed via Google Mail but has a customized @domain address. On-the-go business owners love the ability to log into their custom mailboxes anywhere, anytime. Similarly, the free Apple Mail / Mac Mail comes with every Mac OS. Mac Mail offers only a portion of Outlook’s functionality but predictably has stronger compatibility with other Apple products. However, Mac owners using the rest of Microsoft’s Office suite do not have a strong reason to use Apple Mail over Microsoft Outlook.
Integration, ease of access, and portability are king in today’s market and Microsoft Outlook has cracked the code on them all. Outlook works well with other Microsoft (and non-Microsoft) add-ins and applications, it can be easily accessed via desktop, mobile app, or web browser, and has the most robust functionality. Microsoft Outlook comes included with an Office 365 subscription, which you likely already have.
Should you download it?
Yes. If you are a working professional and desire the most comprehensive personal information manager out there, download Outlook to your desktop and get the mobile apps for full integration. If you are more of an “against the norm” type and want something slightly less commercial, but equally as reputable, go for Mac-installed Apple Mail or connecting your custom domain with Google Mail.