Microsoft is working on a completely new version of Outlook for Windows, but in the meantime, the company is changing Outlook’s main navigation to match the web app.
The main navigation buttons in Outlook for switching between mail, calendar, people, and other sections have been located at the bottom-left corner of the window. After nearly two decades, Microsoft is moving them to a left sidebar, matching the appearance of the Outlook.com web app. Outlook will also include customizable shortcuts in the same sidebar for Yammer, Bookings, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and To Do, and more will be added in the future.
Microsoft said in a community post, “the Outlook team recognizes this is a big user experience change and it will take time to get used to the new location for Mail, Calendar, etc. Because this new experience replaces the previous navigation experience and adds new functionality, there isn’t an option available for returning to the old navigation experience.”
Even though this isn’t a drastic redesign, and most people will likely adjust after a few minutes, it does change a design element that has remained in place since Outlook 2003. However, it is technically a return to form for Outlook, as the first version (Outlook 97) had the main navigation buttons along the left side of the screen.
Microsoft didn’t mention when, or if, Outlook for Mac will receive the same update. The Android, iPhone, and iPad applications have a tab bar along the bottom for switching between mail, search, and calendar — there is a panel on the left, but it is used for changing the active account.