Defunkifying Your Inbox with Office 365's Coming Clutter Feature

Defunkifying Your Inbox with Office 365's Coming Clutter Feature

As part of the initial Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) keynote on Monday, Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper announced three distinct features that will be publicly available in the coming months. In, MEC Keynote Unveils New Office 365 Features: Clutter, Collaboration, and Android Support, I sketched an outline of the future feature announcements. But, in this post, I wanted to dig a bit deeper into one of the announced features and that is "Clutter."

If you're familiar with Exchange and Microsoft Outlook email rules (and, who isn't?), these can help you better manage your inbox stream, allowing you to apply filters to incoming email and then have them automatically do things. Depending on your needs, the rules can be very simple or very complex.

Announced on Monday and slated for release later this year, Clutter utilizes the power of Exchange and Office Graph to intelligently manage your inbox for you. These automated rules track your email reading habits over time to determine which messages, recipients, topics, and threads are most important to you, or really those things that are not important at all.  Over time, only those emails that you care most about will remain in your Inbox. Those that have been identified as clutter, will reside in a special "view" within the email client. Switching to that view, allows you to browse those items that have been filtered away from the main view.

Think of Clutter as email usage profiling and, as one example, an automated way to organize business versus personal emails that flow through your work inbox. And, since Clutter works through usage profiling personalization, each individual that uses the feature will have a completely different experience.

Clutter is still in development, and Microsoft has supplied no definite date for release. To me, Clutter sounds nice, but I'm an email rule diehard and am pretty adept in creating my own functionality. I've been using the same set of email rules for years, migrating them whenever I upgrade Microsoft Outlook or start using a new computer. I'll wait to see what the final product looks like when made public, but it may actually cause me more work having to keep checking a special view all the time to see what I missed. Clutter will probably be most useful to those that don't already have a good handle on client-side and server-side rules.

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