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(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft has unveiled a new version Outlook.com. It's only in beta at the moment, but you can try it now, before everyone else.

The refresh includes a revamped search interface and a heavy emphasis on GIFs. But in order to see the changes, you need to test the beta. It’s an opt-in, web-only beta that you can only access after you select the “try the beta” toggle on Outlook.com. Microsoft said it should be available to all users within the next few weeks, though we know a workaround if you'd like to skip the wait and get it early.


Pocket-lintOutlook beta image 2

What's different at Outlook.com?

Microsoft doesn't update Outlook.com very often. Apart from this latest update, the email service has only seen a refresh twice in the past five years. But the company decided to give it a new design this year. It includes an improved conversation view, the ability to read and attach files more quickly, and a new search interface, located at the top of the inbox now. It gives you emails and people in its results.

Other new changes include previews for files and photos in your conversation list, an easier way to find people within your inbox (you can now tag people as favourites), support for GIFs and emojis, which you can search for and insert into emails, as well as smarter inbox features, like the ability to tag flight information and restaurants in emails. You can also add location information into a conversation.

You can learn more about the new features from here.

How to join the Outlook.com beta

To join the beta, follow these steps:

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  • Type Outlook.com into your web browser.
  • Sign into your email account.
  • Once signed in, navigate to address bar and make sure it says "https://outlook.live.com/owa/".
  • If it does, replace the "/owa/" part with "/mail/".
  • A pop-up should appear welcoming you to the beta.
  • Slide through the pop-up cards or click the arrow to access the beta.

Note: Afterward, navigating to https://outlook.live.com/mail/#/inbox should work. But if you see the “try the beta” toggle, don't untick it. That will permanently remove you.

How do you submit feedback?

Now, the purpose of a beta is to collect feedback from users. If you are using the new features, Microsoft would like to hear what you're thinking. It is collecting feedback at the Outlook uservoice site.

Writing by Elyse Betters.