In July 2016 Microsoft announced that Focused Inbox, a new feature in Outlook that helps you cut through the noise of email to focus on what matters most, would be coming to Office 365 customers.
With Focused Inbox now rolled out, Microsoft has shared more about their plans for Clutter. As they mentioned in July, Focused Inbox is the long-term replacement for Clutter. It carries forward Clutter’s capabilities but removes the need to visit a separate folder to check your less-actionable messages. Because Clutter and Focused Inbox use the same algorithms for sorting messages, there are no changes to how email is classified, just a better user experience.
They will continue to make Clutter available to Office 365 customers until January 31, 2020. To prepare for Clutter’s eventual retirement, they have turned the feature off by default for new users. It’s also deactivated for those with extremely low usage (less than 12 emails per month being moved to the Clutter folder), however they can re-enable Clutter at any time, if desired.
If your organisation is using Clutter today, the process for transitioning to Focused Inbox depends on what version of Outlook you are using.
Subscription version of Outlook (Outlook 2016 as part of Office 365 ProPlus or Office 365 Business): As users in your organisation update Outlook to the latest version, those who currently use Clutter will be prompted to give Focused Inbox a try. If they decide to switch, Clutter will be turned off automatically for that user—no administrator action is required. If they don’t switch, messages will continue to move to the Clutter folder until the January 2020 end of service date arrives. As an administrator you can also activate Focused Inbox for your whole organisation rather than giving individual users the choice. See the resources at the end of this post for details.
Perpetual version of Outlook (Outlook 2016 MSI or earlier version): These versions of Outlook do not support Focused Inbox. To transition from Clutter to Focused Inbox, you can upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus (available today) or Outlook 2019. If you don’t upgrade Outlook before January 2020, messages will stop being moved to the Clutter folder, and will revert to being placed in the inbox.