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Document collaboration made easy

Steve Chew is a senior product marketing manager and Joey Masterson is a senior program manager on the Exchange team.

When people send files as attachments, they’re often looking to collaborate with others and get feedback. Up until now, this has been a cumbersome process. For example, when you email a document to your colleague, she must first download the document to make her edits. Once she’s finished editing the document, she then needs to reattach the file to a new email before sending it back to you. This requires multiple steps and context switches, which can be distracting and time-consuming.

Earlier in the year at the Microsoft Exchange Conference, we announced an enhanced document collaboration experience in Outlook Web App for Office 365 users. Today, we’re thrilled to introduce the first of these enhancements, which aims to improve the way people interact with files as attachments in their email. Now, you will be able to edit a document straight from Outlook Web App and attach this edited document to an email response in just a few clicks! Let’s take a closer look.

Side-by-side view of document and email

Your colleague has sent you a document to review, and you see this document attached to an email in your inbox.

01-Traditional Attachment

When you open the attachment, you can now see the contents of that document in context (or “side-by-side”) with the email itself; you can see both at the same time. No more flipping back and forth between windows to get all the information you need. You can perform all of the standard messaging actions (reply, forward, and so on) right from within this view.

02-Traditional Edit & Reply - Document Load

03-Traditional Edit & Reply - View Document

So our first big change as part of this enhanced document collaboration experience is the ability to view photos and Office files in a unified view. With this new view, it’s easy to review the information in the email alongside the attachment itself.

Easy document editing and reply

When you’re ready to edit the attachment and send your comments back, you no longer need to download the attachment, make your changes, rename the file, reattach it, and send your email reply back. You can now do all of this without leaving this new side-by-side view.

To do this, you simply click Edit a Copy right above the attachment and message.

08-Traditional Edit & Reply - Edit button

When you do this, a few things happen automatically.

A draft Reply-All message is created for you to store this new edited version of the attachment.

04-Traditional Edit & Reply - Automatic Draft CreationA new editable copy of the attachment you received is created and renamed with your name at the end of the filename, for example, “Northwind Energy (Garth Fort).pptx.” This way, you can differentiate the new copy of the file from the original one.

05-Traditional Edit & Reply - Edit Document

This new copy of the attachment is live, and any changes you make are automatically saved. Once you’re finished with your changes, you can simply type a response in the email and click Send.

06-Traditional Edit & Reply - New Edits & Reply

07-Traditional Edit & Reply - Automatically Attach Document and SendJust like that, you’ve replied to your colleague’s email with the edited version of the document automatically attached.

08-Traditional Edit & Reply - New Attachment Version

No more having to switch back and forth between different windows, because you can now edit the attachment and reply with changes all in a single action. Collaborating on attachments in email has never been easier.

Additional enhancements

In addition to the side-by-side view and edit-and-reply enhancements, you’ll also see two more new capabilities. The user experience for attachments in the attachment well has been updated, so now when you attach files, they’re bigger and better looking than they’ve ever been before. And you can now download multiple attachment at once in the form of a single zip file.

09-Download All

We’re excited to deliver the first step in this enhanced document collaboration experience in Outlook Web App. We’ll have more enhancements to share later in the year. In the meantime, we look forward to your feedback on how we can continue to meet your needs.

—Steve Chew and Joey Masterson

Frequently asked questions

Q: What types of files are supported for viewing in the new side-by-side experience?

A: Today, we support viewing all Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, as well as .PDF files and most types of pictures. We will be adding more types of files to view in our new experience in upcoming releases.

Q: What types of files are supported for editing in the new Edit/Reply workflow?

A: Currently, we support editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files created in Microsoft Office 2007 and above.

 

Join the conversation

11 comments
  1. Looking forward to trying this out. You missed the obligatory question and answer in your FAQ’s.
    When’s it due Mr. Chew?
    Is it rolling out now to a tenant near you?
    Will First Releasers see it before you?

    I guess this all depends on the definition of “announce” or “introduce”.
    Either way, I’m excitedly impatient ;)

    • Darrell beat me to it. I love the constant enhancements and improvements!!! But, I’m just like a kid at Christmas…. running to try out the new feature and not knowing when it will/should work. Keep up the GREAT work and just end by letting us know when we will see the feature working.

      • 15gdm – Thanks for the support and glad to hear you’re enjoying the continuous innovation!

    • DarrellCWebster – Glad to hear your enthusiasm! The feature has already started rolling out to Office 365 customers and will continue over the next month. As it goes with these staged rollouts, some customers will start to see the features sooner than others. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we’re expecting the rollout to be completed in August.

  2. Great feature – thanks! This may be a stupid question. Never the less: Is this feature planned to be a part of Outlook for desktop as well?

    • We live in an Online-First world now and some online features will never make it to the desktop. It should be interesting to see if and when it does appear in Outlook desktop.
      I’m picking that once Outlook modern app (Outlook Touch, Outlook Windows 8 Start Menu) is out, it will share the same code base as OWA and we may see features like this available both online and on-”desktop” (modern mode).

    • Aslak Gottlieb – Thanks for your interest! The announcement in this blog post applies specifically to Outlook Web App. Our research suggests that most customers on Desktop Outlook prefer to use the Desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to edit documents, and thus don’t require the integrated Office Online support highlighted in this blog post. That said, we’ll have more to share regarding the rest of our Document Collaboration story later in the year, including our plans for Desktop Outlook. Here’s a refresher on the full Document Collaboration story that we announced earlier in the year – http://blogs.office.com/2014/03/31/the-evolution-of-email

  3. Hi

    We have just received this update but I do not see the edit option,. Is this going to be released latter?

    Paul

    • Paul Bourne – Edit should be there, although there is a latency in the rollout for editing Excel files. Are you not seeing editing for all types of Office documents? Or just Excel files?

      • I can not see edit on all types of documents word, excel and powerpoint.

  4. Is this feature available on E1 and E3 licenses?

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