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A closer look at Microsoft's updated Mail and Calendar apps with Fluent Design on Windows 10

Yesterday, Microsoft began testing updated Mail and Calendar apps with a small group of Windows Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring that brings with it new Fluent Design elements and a clean layout that gives Mail and Calendar a fresh look leading into 2018. Here's a closer look at an early build of the new Mail and Calendar apps.

Considering these apps are still in testing with Insiders, it is likely that there is more work to be done before these new designs are finalized. Right now, the new Mail and Calendar apps feature Fluent Design in subtle yet pleasing ways, such as adding Acrylic and Reveal effects to the hamburger menu on the left of the app windows. There doesn't appear to be any "connected animations" in use yet, but that's not necessary for a Mail or Calendar app anyway.

What we are seeing is the implementation of "borderless" UI within both apps, as content now extends to the very edge of the top of the window. This provides a much cleaner and modern appearance to the app that I really love. There's still work to be done here with the borderless design, but considering this is still an early preview build that's totally understandable.

I personally think the Mail and Calendar apps in light mode look far better than with dark mode, which is a rarity for me. Those who follow me on Twitter will know I'm a dark mode advocate, but when it comes to the Mail and Calendar apps with Fluent Designs, I can't help but prefer the light mode more. Perhaps that's because the dark mode version isn't finished yet. I can only hope.

Overall, the work Microsoft is doing to the Mail and Calendar apps is incredibly exciting. While we do not yet see anything in regards to new features, it's great to see Microsoft bringing Fluent Design to more of its inbox apps, and is something we can't wait to see more of in Redstone 4.

Microsoft says that it will be bringing this new design language to more apps and the Windows Shell over the next few Windows 10 updates, so expect to see more Fluent Design goodies in testing over the next weeks and months leading into Redstone 4 and Redstone 5 development.

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

69 Comments
  • You found it!
  • Thanks for pointing this out. I wasn't using the email app on my Skip Ahead build. Configured it last night and was blessed with the new version overnight. I prefer the light theme for email too, but after years of staring at Outlook in it's default color scheme it's what I'm used to.
  • More gimmicks, less WOW...
  •   I love fluent design... think it looks futuristic :)
  • It looks nice, while Windows 10 looked ugly when it was released. :) Though it is still inconsistent. (Talking about Win 10, not about this app.)
  • Slightly more opaque than Aero was, yet all the fanboys call Aero "Ancient and ugly". Nothing more than a cycle of fashion.
  • More is less sometimes.  Subtle changes can make a dated UI look fresh and new.  Who needs WOW :) What I am waiting for is consistency and all attributes updated to the new design langauge rather than having some aspects of all design langauges ever created by MS in the new windows system.
  • Right now consumers are more accepting of what looks good. Too little subtle improvements to the look of anything will garner a "meh"
  • Some say too little, but if a big change is made, there is an uproar wanting the old back.   Hard to know where to draw the line, either a "meh" or a "why did it all change?"    Guess we can't make everyone happy either way.
  • Long way to go...
  • Depends on where you are trying to get to. Simple, beautiful, and functional work perfectly well for me. 
  • I left the inside program when the fall creators update was released and I've checked the settings page to make sure I'm not enrolled but I still got the mail and calender update weird. Mail looks great though.
  • It's not really "borderless" (Comments in app doesn't work... again...)
  • They need to kill that 1px border with fire.
  • Amen to that. It's still miles better than the crap the XP and 7 had, but I would like for it to go completely away. Benefit is that it makes it easy to see which window is active. But personally that's something I'm willing to live without
  • coocooman3 writes:
    It's still miles better than the crap the XP and 7 had...
    XP and 7 couldn't run "apps" at all.  They could only run Win32 programs (or their 64 bit variants), which even on Windows 10 are not in this "fluent" style either.  Even Windows 10 desktop windows have a more sizable border than in the screenshot above, do they not? 
  • My god i hate it, the worst part is, i didn't even notice it until someone pointed it out. And now I can't ******* unsee it!
  • Is there a chance they will fix the unread count notification on the task bar icon (and sometime start screen tile)? I have a couple machines that get stuck for a while showing unread emails, but when you open the app everything has been opened. The app has come a long way since the original Win10 release, but man those weird oddities like the task bar icon sticking just really annoys. Not sure if anyone else has had that happen. I really love Win10 and this app has become my preference over the Outlook thick desktop client.
  • Hey - my counter was off sometimes as the Outlook thick desktop client can also generate the count notification without showing the details in the action center. Beats me if I remember how to update it - think it is the settings under notifications.
  • Yup, same issue here. And when this number gets stuck, it is also displayed on the lock screen. Also, on mobile it syncs flagged emails up and down, but on desktop it syncs down flagged emails, but if I flag something on the desktop, it won't sync it up.
  • I have that problem as well. I reset the counter by toggling the Email sync slider that is associated with the account in question. I also have all Email accounts updating every 15 minutes.
  • I love this borderless design.
  • Me too but now they added frames for every button, some shadows and shining effects :/ It's a christmas tree :/
  • And, it will look great on an Ultramoble Surface.
  • How about some Fluent Design on non-menu components? It is interesting to see how other components looks on FD, like text input, drop down, checkbox, buttons, etc. Something else that is interesting is how fast they can upgrade from MDL to FDL, right now it seems that it's requiring some effort and I don't think that we'll have the OS with only one DL. I hope they will reduce the dependency between components and design in the near future.
  • Shouldn’t they be fixing bugs instead?
  • agree, and adding features! sad that fashion sells better than functionality.
  • Yeah, but when it bugs people will just give it up, and keep it simple: use the browser. Not to get me wrong, I use it myself, and I'm the one who tried ti suggest my colleagues to use it, but on the browser it works perfectly, while in the app it doesn't, so...
  • How do you use the browser in Enterprise? There is only thick Outlook Client for you. Which you ought to use whether you like out or not. The Mail app can't handle appointments, no voting option, not even a notification, that there is voting inside you dumass, use your Outlook for this, can't open file locations from hyperlinks. No signatures. Plain useless in Enterprise, but at least a lot faster than Outlook and now looks even better. I mean looks better 2 years from now, when Enterprise will finally deploy the FCU. We just upgraded to AU.
  • Start calling people dumbass, and yet you know nothing. For start, we don't even use outlook.com email accounts at work, but we use our own. We don't have any callendars, etc., we simply use it for emails. Dumbass. And why do you care? I hope you're not relying your business on a Microsoft's UWP application. That's what a dumbass would do. :) But I agree with your points that it is unacceptable that they still haven't fixed those major issues. Several months ago it used to sync flagged items perfectly, and now it doesn't. That's one example. And why use it... It may be limited, but it is more convenient. Simple as that.
  • So first you reject me calling anyone a dumass using Mail for work and then you call me one for the same reason. ☺ Nice touch there. Second I called myself a dumass there, cuz that is exactly how one feels when missing out on a voting option. Third, why wouldn't you use an outlook.com email account at work? Maye what you mean was FOR work. And we don't. But I can perfectly integrate my outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo and other POP3 accounts along with my enterprise user in a single client. I may be a dumass for that too, but that's how I like to do it for reasons, instead of having to fire up something that loads up for a minute with a counting splash screen. And I was only reflecting to your comment that one not liking the Mail app should simply use outlook.com. But outlook.com does not integrate with enterprise. So that's not an option. And that point still stands erect.
  • We both know I didn't call you dumbass because I think you are one, but because you called somebody else a dumbass for their decision, and without any knowledge why does that persion use things the way they do. It was just because of attitude. :) I don't use outlook.com for work becauswe have our own email accoutns for business, our own servers, etc. It might be more convenient to use outlook.com, but I guess the reasons for that were not wanting our email addresses look unprofessional. (They they could work out something with Outlook or Gmail if they wanted to, but they didn't, I don't know the reasons. Maybe it's about long term reliability.) I understand, we all have our reasons. :) My only point actually was that we shouldn't be talking like to others. It's easy to say "hey, dumbass", but that leads to nowhere good. :) You're here to spend some nice time. Me too. ;) But if you say those guys from Microsoft are dumbasses, yes, I agree! I have noticed another issue with this app on my phone. I move an event from today to tomorrow, and it somehow forgets that change. It moved it back from Friday evening to Thursday evening. WFT... :/ It also happened that I edit some stuff in one event, I deleted some text, and it reverted my changes after a day or so... Unbelievable. So... even though I use this Microsoft's product for myself, I couldn't recommend it to somebody else. Sadly... That damn dumbass company called Microsoft. :/ And you are cool, I actually agree with many your points, but we shouldn't be calling each other dumbass. That's for Microsoft. :)
  • No, actually you know that. What I know, I called nobody else a dumass but again only myself, as I even stated in my previous comment. If you still think I called someone else a dumass and you say "we both know that" that is just something I can give a dumass blinking of eye on. :)
    BTW, the UWP app does not seem to have privileges to delete stuff from an Outlook server. So even if you move mails from one folder to the other, it will only put a copy of the original there, while hiding on its own interface in the source location. If you open the same in Outlook, you will see the mail in both source and destination location. Prolly the same applies to some appointment features.
  • I hope you'll accept my apology then. :( I have misunderstood parts of your first reply. Sorry. That's interesting. In my case it works fine. But I think you mentioned POP somewhere above. Maybe that's the issue? I mean, that would be how POP works, while IMAP would actually do what you want. POP only syncs down stuff from the server, while IMAP syncs everything with the server. For this reason if you delete something with POP, or read it, etc., it won't be deleted, or read, on the server. And if you mark something as read, or delete it, from IMAP, than it is deleted on the server as well. I hope this helps, and sorry for making it longer than necessary.
  • No apology needed. I just want us to be on the same page. :) No, I use several accounts, including a POP one. POP even has issues collecting folders on the server. Only standard deleted items, sent items and inbox seem to be supported in general. The above mentioned issue happens to the enterprise outlook account.
  • Damn... Then maybe trying it on another device. Maybe it wouldn't happen in general, but that it has some issue on your device specifically. It happens... If it works on another, then maybe re-adding the account would help, or something like that. That was so frustrating to see how they are going to introduce the option to reset apps in CU, but they didn't actually make it possibe to reset some of their own preinstalled apps. Those were the apps we were asking for the reset option in the first place. :/ I hope there is some workaround for that problem you're having. And that thing with folder... I noticed that too. I had my sent items in the app, and sent items in the webmail app, but those were disjoint. On my phone I couldn't find those ones from the PC... Later I noticed that in the webmail I actually had two folders for sent items, so my solution for the problem was setting the webmail to save the sent emails into that folder which was used by the app as well. It would have been easier if the app could notice that other Sent items folder, but it couldn't.
  • I'm getting a new device next week, will see how it works. But again, enterprise is still on AU. Could be the cause for a lot of things.
  • Actually I feel like AU is more reliable than CU. Is there a way to force a Lumia to enterprise, so it could get stuck on AU?
  • These kind of comments again... It's not like they only work on one thing at a time and different people probably focus on different areas.
  • Not again. Still. ...for over a year. So who is working on Mail features? As if Microsoft was a start up with 10 courageous pioneers. 🤣 Who dare to expect them fixing year-old bugs and to add some voting banner to their app before it implements shiny reflections. 😆
  • I see all these things about bug issues and what not.  I admit I am a more basic user than most on here, so I probably represent the type of user more commonly using Mail and Calendar, as most with more complex requirements would use a client such as Outlook. I have multiple IMAP accounts and an Exchange account.  I no longer use POP3 admittedly as I have my mail on multiple devices and like to have it fully synced.    Anyway, I have not seen really any bugs in my basic usage of Mail or Calendar.  There was one a month or so ago where the unread item counter was messed up, but the next update fixed that.    I wonder if these bugs that are encountered are caused by other things rather than the app itself.  99% of my apps are Microsoft applications admittedly. 
  • This is a perfect example of a wrong understanding of "interface design" and it's frustrating that the author isn't able to tell this and be more critical. It is focused on the look and feel, not the actual interaction. "There doesn't appear to be any "connected animations" in use yet, but that's not necessary for a Mail or Calendar app anyway." How can you even say this? Connected animations can help to improve navigation, for example when you go from an email back to the inbox, in Windows Phone 7 there was always an animation so you see wich email you were coming from and you know exactly wich one is the next item in the list. Same for calendar entries. "What we are seeing is the implementation of "borderless" UI within both apps, as content now extends to the very edge of the top of the window." Is this supposed to be a joke? They just changed the color of the title bar. The layout is exactly the same. The margins are still wrong in both apps, and a lot of elements are inconsistent with other Windows 10 apps (ellipses and settings icons for example). I don't want to be rude, but the author is obviously not qualified to judge on the UI. It's just one opinion, and not a strong one, to be honest.
  • Noted.
  • They didn't just change the colour of the title bar. You can see that the left menu (at least the menu colour) extends to the top of the window. In the old version there is a same coloured title bar that runs the extent of the top of the window. The author is prefectly qualified to judge the UI from a user perspective. You are judging it from an expert or designer prespective. I like your opinions, they make sense, but I'd rather read them in a way that doesn't patronize someone. If you have to preface something with "I don't want to be rude..." then you are likley being rude. 
  • Don't worry, being a writer on the web, I'm used to it. A lot of people have no idea how to communicate properly on the internet. It's not hard, all you have to do is be nice. Guess that's too much to ask for some people. We're living in the age of "I don't agree with your opinion so therefore you are wrong." This article is mine, I wrote it, starring my own opinions. If tN0 disagrees, he's welcome to write his own article on his own site. There's no need to be patronizing or rude.
  • "We're living in the age of "I don't agree with your opinion so therefore you are wrong." This article is mine, I wrote it, starring my own opinions. If tN0 disagrees, he's welcome to write his own article on his own site. There's no need to be patronizing or rude." Well, I thought I put out some arguments and even said that this article is reflecting your opinion (which I respect) but could be more objectively because UI design is not about personal taste as much as you might think. It's never my intention to being rude. But very interesting to read that readers who disagree with your opinion aren't welcome and should write their own articles.
  • You are welcome to disagree. I never said you weren't. What isn't welcome is rudeness.
  • They just changed the title bar color from blue to transparent. And while I didn't attacked anyone personally, I can't hide my frustration that the tech media has matured technically and financially, but a lot of content still sounds like the good old fan blog. Pointing out missing useful features (search in Calendar), meaningful animations and a helpful consistency throughout major Windows 10 apps is not an expert's or designer's perspective, in my opinion. That's what matters and what people want (take a look inside the Feedback hub) but when Microsoft doesn't deliver, we need someone to point this out and ask them some though questions. Albert Shum is holding a Fluent Design session soon, so ask him why it's more important to add some fancy effects to *some* UI elements when the most requested thing in the whole Insider Program is a more consistent interface. But yeah, that would be real journalism. I guess most have already given up on quality.
  • We all want more from Microsoft, but in this case, I don't think this article has problem. You can't write more about this topic, if Microsoft doesn't deliver things. We know what's missing, they have one the biggest feedback of all software companies, but they are slow unfortunately.
  • Do you read this site? I've written about Microsoft's design inconsistencies many times. This article is simply pointing out some improvements to the Mail and Calendar apps in regards to design. You don't have to like the design changes, but I do, hence this article. You are looking for a problem where there isn't one. The new Fluent Design Mail and Calendar apps are nice. There's still work to be done, as I mention in the article, but what's been updated so far is good. Please do some research before you claim we're not doing any "real journalism". https://www.windowscentral.com/heres-3-things-we-dont-about-windows-10-fall-creators-update Plus, I mention design inconsistencies several times in my review. Sheesh.
  • Yes I have a problem also with all these effects, make Windows looks like a toy, but the design itself is simple, flat, and very nice.
  • All this Fluend Design is nothing more than just putting a lipstig on a pig
  • Cool
  • Actually for some reason I find fluent design apps run smoother on my Lumia 950. And I don't mean noticeably. I mean way better.
  • Yes, thats probably because of the additional resource consuming effects, for sure!
  • I love the new look and getting rid of the title bar color. Have always hated how thick the bars were on most windows applications compared to Mac and Linux.
    However, this new design makes the settings flyout look absolutely awful, because there's no solid top. Hopefully they colour the bar the same background as the settings flyout when you open it. Would complete the look. And add some light glow to the settings as well. Weird to not have them.
  • Yeah, i switched from fast ring to release preview, and i get this update. I love how the UX improves with Fluent Designado, expecting to ser more un the insiders builds.
  • Looks good. Better than the screenshot we seen yesterday.
  • I just want Mail to use my contacts in People correctly. You know, little things like display the contact's current name instead of whatever display-name/-email from the very first use of the contact. Little things like propagating contact edits across all my devices in seconds instead if when some server finally gets around to it, even after doing a manual sync. The new look is nice, but personally I'd like some of these long-standing (for years now) obvious issues taken care of.
  • Any news of customizability of account colors in the calendar? I am currently managing 5 calendar accounts in outlook. The fixed color coding for each calendar account is mess to look at, at a glance, in the current calendar app. User control of the calendar account would greatly help improve the viewability of the calendar events.
  • I like the dark mode. I think the frosty pane should remain subtle, to prevent legibility issues with text. A pity it is still not possible for the email body to have a dark mode color. It does work with reading mode in Edge.
  • Microsoft killed UWP and its mobile platform, it killed zune and groove music streaming.   And now I need to be excited about some glass panels on a calendar app? It is not exciting and extremely silly.  
  • I still do not understand the need for and HYIP around the nominal version of this design from Microsoft.
    1. It is not trite cute. Are the effects of translucence all that designers in Microsoft can do? Well, this is an achievement ... Maybe it's time to hire a team of good designers?
    2. It takes up a lot of system resources. (just compare the performance of your PC with the included transparency and without it).
    3. All these updates from 2015 only cosmetic (mostly, and just fixes), when already a new design and the whole system offer me a new work experience for my tasks? I want simplification and not the next addition (removal) of transparency (and other nonsense). Function People? Yes, drop it, it's easier to turn it off and that's all.
  • While I agree that this is nothing exciting, I must say that I'm tired of all the "performance whining" that follows ANYTHING that looks better than the ugly grey Windows 95 theme.
    This ~10% transparency (Way too opaque for my taste but whatever) is only applied to the focused window, not all of them, so if you're having performance issues, I'd say it's about time to upgrade that 90s desktop or that cheap chinese tablet with 1st generation Atom that you're using.
  • Sargon Aelther writes:
    I must say that I'm tired of all the "performance whining" that follows ANYTHING that looks better than the ugly grey Windows 95 theme.
    The beautiful gray Windows 95 theme was, to many of us, the pinnacle of UI design from Microsoft with regard to non-touch PCs.  The Win2k/XP (in Classic mode) UI was essentially the same as the 95 theme, and it remains my gold standard by which all others are judged even now.  Windows 10 doesn't even come close, even in its ugly gray UWP blahness.  Gray expanses without the skeuomorphic cues of Windows Classic (and with the relative paucity of UI elements) don't look like anything in particular; it's just a sea of gray that looks like something should be there.  It always feels to me like a broken UI on an older version of Windows where something failed to render and it's in some kind of half-working state. Gray works with the skeomorphic design; the borders and shadows make it look like an object that can be interacted with rather than a blob of nothing.  The content is supposed to be the focus, not the UI, and the combination of neutral gray and the skeomorphic design is just enough "look at me" to make it intuitive without so much of it that it competes with the content (like Aero Glass on Vista/7 did).  Gray in a flat UI like UWP is terrible.  Without clearly-defined skeuomorphic edges, it doesn't process immediately as an interactive object in a human brain that has evolved to interact with physical 3D objects over hundreds of thousands of years.  The recognition of a flat window is better if you add a little color to it, and even more so if you draw a solid 1px black border around it, like the default desktop theme in Windows 8.   The flat UI needs help to overcome the excessive neutrality of the gray with no skeuomorphic edge effects.  It still will tend to compete to some degree with the content, but that can't be completely avoided with flat design (which itself should be avoided, IMO). Point is, what's "better" in UI terms is a matter of opinions... we all have 'em, and they can vary greatly.  That's why we need options, not "this is the way it is going to look, and you're going to LIKE it!"  I won't use a flat UI, no ifs, ands, or buts, Fluent or otherwise.  It sounds like you feel the same about the classic design I demand.  There is no one UI that will satisfy us both.
  • I am finding these so called fluent designs to be so dumbed down they have removed any form of control for power users and they are not offering a way to stay with what you have. I for one am finding these solutions to be limiting and have already opted to find more robust solutions. This is fine for the average user but there are many of us that are not average users and need more control and options. This for me just proves more dumbing down of the people and helping lazy people become even more lazy!
  • Oh wow another UWP app... When are we gonna get transaprent System-wide Win32 titlebars?
    Nobody uses UWP apps (Outside of this fan circle) other than a few basic stock ones like calculator.
  • I would rather MS fixed the missing group email feature first, rather than focussing on fancy graphics that add little to functionality.
  • I'm sure Mail and Calendar have some uses... but Microsoft is killing itself with repeated UI changes for little or zero impact. Business (and anyone with a 365 subscription) already uses Outlook. Then, I don't know how many people use some form of web mail -- Google Mail, Outlook.com, their own service provider's program, etc. Then anyone with a phone... has some sort of email and I'm wondering how many still need an 'app' on their PC. If you are doing serious work (sorting, searching, lots of folder organizing, etc.) humm... that would be Outlook.  I'm wondering who uses Mail or Calendar? Those without cell phones, or who can't manage mail in Outlook.com or GMail, don't need Outlook, and who aren't invested in Apple, Google, etc. and who still need what... tablet access? Let's assume there is a market for Mail. Ok... why does it need to be rewritten three times in six years? 8.1, 10, and now Fluid? Finally, exactly why is Fluid useful if you don't have mobile devices? Most laptops and tablets have higher resolutions than desktop monitors these days. Any reason a surface can't run Outlook or web mail?