Close to a year ago, we heard Microsoft making plans of turning its services and products into Progressive Web Apps, but it soon seemed like a far cry, until now.
Microsoft has disclosed its plans and is apparently converting both Outlook.com and Outlook for the Webmail services into Progressive Web Apps, so-called PWA apps. It will allow any Outlook user to install the web app on Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, or any platform that supports PWAs.
Progressive Web Apps are nothing but a sound combination of traditional browser and mobile app experience. These are web-based applications, created with the purpose to help users use them on devices like laptops, desktop, smartphone, phablet, tablet, and more – a prominent reason why a number of companies are also now migrating their website to PWAs.
What this means is that these apps would seem like a website to anyone using it on a laptop, whereas to a mobile phone user, it would impart the impression and experience of an app.
PWAs, by their nature, are essentially still websites, but they include better caching, notification features, and background functionality to make them appear more like traditional apps.
It’s worth noting that Microsoft in the previous year adopted the PWAs approach for its Windows app and these new plans of transforming Outlook into one, is just a clear indication of the company’s intentions of changing its other products into PWAs too, i.e., Word and Excel.
It is considered an effective substitute or an alternative to the messy Outlook Windows desktop app version or the Windows Mail client, operating as a part of Windows 10.
Thus, if you really have to use Microsoft products at all, using the progressive web apps sounds like a much better alternative instead of the resource-heavy, and very cluttered Windows apps that Microsoft provide.
However, if you use a Chrome-based Web Browser like Google Chrome or Brave, then you can check out the Outlook.com support. It is live right now, signalling that Outlook.com is on the path of becoming a PWA.
All you have to do is “install’ Outlook.com from the address bar and it would be treated as a native app in Windows or macOS. Hopefully, support for other browsers like Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox will come later.
Another bit of rather important information is that Microsoft also has plans of experimenting with bringing Google Drive, Gmail, and Calendar support to Outlook.com. The company itself confirmed that it is “experimenting with a small set of Outlook.com users” for the integration.
This could be seen as an encouraging decision on the part of Microsoft restoring the faith of many app development companies in the PWA development. What’s missing there, of course, is offline use. But just meeting the minimum requirements of a PWA is the first step.