Focused Inbox comes to the desktop and end of Clutter

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Just announced though known about for some time - the Focused inbox feature via Acompli originally that became Outlook for iOS and Android's standout feature is coming to the desktop:


Focused Inbox was first released on Outlook for iOS and Android and is being used daily by tens of millions of users. Now, it is coming to all versions of Outlook to give you one consistent view of the important items in your inbox. It begins rolling out this week for users of the new and will soon start rolling out for Office 365 customers in our First Release program in early September. Office 365 admins will have mailbox and tenant level control of the feature to stage the rollout in a manner that works best for their organization.


Clutter uses can switch to Focused Inbox if they wish


Active Clutter users will have to opt-in to Focused Inbox and will be able to do so from an in-app prompt in Outlook. After they opt-in, they will no longer receive less important email in the “Clutter” folder. Instead, email will be split between the Focused and Other tabs in their inbox.


Then this will eventually mean the end of clutter: 


You can keep using the existing Clutter experience through the transition. However, after the transition period, Clutter will be completely replaced by Focused Inbox.


Interesting news!

81 Replies

I wonder if Admins will have the ability to turn this off from the get go, or will that ability come later (like Clutter)?


We sure don't want another Clutter fiasco at our organization.

Hi @Cary Siemers, I know that Focused Inbox will be accompanied by controls at the tenant and user level. I will ask the team where/when this will be publicly documented.

Will this be the case for Outlook on the Web and Outlook 2016 Desktop?

I have a few questions...


What triggers the in-app prompt?  Will it happen automatically?  Where do the messages currently in Clutter go, back into Inbox?


Is this in the July 2016 release for windows apps?  When will this come to Mac Office?



This is FANTASTIC news!  Clutter, while OK, just wasn't elegant enough, I always felt it should function more like the focused inbox as Clutter felt too much like a second Junk Mail folder.  I do hope they make it a bit more accurate overall.  Anyway very cool!  

I assume we will have PowerShell command to enable/disable/see activation status for our users in September while it start to be deployed ? What about users always using Office 2013? Clutter was an additionnal folder they can see. What about Focus? Only for Office 2016 users?
Hi Cary. Focused Inbox is less likely to cause trouble. The messages are still in the Inbox. Focused View behaves more like a smart view of your Inbox than a service that files your email away to a different folder.

"less likely to cause trouble" is a debatable point. The Focused Inbox is based on a view within a folder and although the items remain in that mailbox, there are some advantages lost over the situation when messages are moved elsewhere. Two simple examples. First, you can't apply a retention policy to the messages deemed to be unimportant as you can when they exist in the Clutter folder because retention policies are folder-based and cannot be assigned to a folder view. Second, because all messages remain in the Inbox, the synchronization traffic to a mobile device is heavier than it would be if only the important messages are kept there.


All of which goes to prove that no implementation of technology ever comes without some potential downsides.

True, the retention policy was one benefit with the Clutter folder based method. 

The problem with Clutter was it didn't learn very well for some peoples working habits. It was another folder to check and messages that needed to be actioned may not be read in a timely fashion. Focused Inbox in the Outlook mobile app displays a yellow bar at the top of your Inbox when you have Other messages you haven't read. This subtle reminder is better than how Clutter operates. I don't know if Focused Inbox for Outlook will operate the same. 

It's good to know that Focused Inbox also provides a way to train the service to better recognise the messages that matter most to you.

Good point about sync traffic to mobiles. More messages in the Inbox mean higher data usage on mobile plans. 


Re. training...


As I understand it, Focused Inbox (when used for Exchange Online) uses much the same training model as Clutter. The thing is that Clutter was ahead of its time. The notion of using a learning model to understand what is important and what is not in terms of the email that is received in an Inbox was ahead of its time. The implementation was rough at the start but got better as time went on. The new implementation builds on what was learned with Clutter, so it's untrue to say that this is the end of Clutter. It is fairer to say that the new Focused Inbox is an amalgation of the initial Clutter (perhaps over complicated because of its reliance on machine learning) with the simplicity of the original Focused Inbox, which was designed to meet the needs of a mobile community who wanted to see what was important. It will be interesting to see how this develops....

Yep, the slow start to the roll-out of documentation to tell people what's happening...

@Brian Levenson wrote:
Hi @Cary Siemers, I know that Focused Inbox will be accompanied by controls at the tenant and user level. I will ask the team where/when this will be publicly documented.

With Focus supposedly starting to be rolled out to tenants soon, where are the Admin Controls that were promised by the end of August? I need to be able to turn this off for all of my users.

It is now September, are the controls for turning off the Focused Inbox feature available?

Is this coming to Mac Office 2016?

@Brian Levenson wrote:
Hi @Cary Siemers, I know that Focused Inbox will be accompanied by controls at the tenant and user level. I will ask the team where/when this will be publicly documented.

Unless I've missed it somewhere, I still haven't seen any documentation on how to turn this off for my Tenant. It's now almost end of September, do you know where it is?

I do know. The cmdlets that are used to control tenant and individual mailbox access to the Focused Inbox have been delayed in their roll-out. I was all ready to publish a piece on the topic but was asked by Microsoft to delay because they are not ready. Stay patient. Focused Inbox is coming and you will have the cmdlets to control its use. Just like Clutter...

Useful slide I thought from Ignite that shows the Focused Inbox coming to all systems -


Outlook Roadmap.png

That's a welcome sight, I wish they would fill in dates! (1Q, 2Q, etc)