Modular productivity software such as Notion, Airtable, Coda, Milanote, Roam Research, etc. has taken the market by storm. They are redefining the workspace and at the same time challenging traditional solutions from Asana, Jira, and the productivity suite from established names like Microsoft and Google. Microsoft is quietly building its take on modern tools with Outlook Spaces.
What Is Outlook Spaces?
Codenamed as Project Moca, Outlook Spaces is Microsoft’s idea of bringing modularity to Outlook web. Currently available to select users, Outlook Spaces can work as the perfect alternative to a bunch of tools with Microsoft 365 integration. Let’s explore it.
Where Is Outlook Spaces?
As I mentioned above, Outlook Spaces is currently in preview. Meaning, it’s not widely available on mobile or desktop. The software giant is testing and improving Outlook Spaces through Outlook web.
Visit Outlook on the web and sign in using your account credentials. On the left menu bar, you will find the Project Moca icon at the bottom.
We expect Microsoft to release mobile apps and dedicated desktop apps for Outlook Spaces as soon as the software reaches the beta stage.
Outlook Spaces Home
Outlook Spaces is fairly easy to understand and navigate. On the home page, you will find two sections – Templates and Your Projects. Pick up a template and you are ready to start your project.
Outlook Spaces Templates
At the time of writing, Outlook Spaces is offering only five templates to choose from – Weekly plan, Project plan, School plan, Meal plan, and Personal Wellness.
Once again, I expect Microsoft to release more templates down the line. Five templates are simply not enough to cover every use case scenario. Maybe, it will also support user templates in the future like other modular project management apps.
You can hover the mouse pointer over any template and start creating a project or preview the template before use.
Users can also build a space from scratch. Outlook will ask for the name, people associated with space, and a couple of keywords to make it easier for you to find it later.
Outlook Spaces Features
In the example below, I’m using the Project Plan template to manage my articles at TechWiser. Allow me to share my experience.
You can imagine Outlook Spaces as a giant digital whiteboard. The company is offering different elements that you can pin anywhere on the board. Unlike other software, there is no fixed limit or length to stick elements on the space.
Users can add different elements to a board such as Collection, Note, File, Weblink, Task, Goal, Weather, and Person. Simply drag the element from the left menu bar and place it anywhere on the board you like.
As soon as you select an element, Outlook Spaces changes the background with rulers so that you can have a perfect alignment between objects and elements.
The company also offers a reminders function with the Milestone block. Attach it to a card and you can add a due date and time for the task.
In a classic Microsoft style, what separates Outlook Spaces from rivals is the Microsoft 365 integration. The tasks get synced with Microsoft To-Do. Your Sticky Notes, OneNote notebook, the next Skype Call, Outlook Calendar, and of course, the Outlook Email are just a click away. If you are already invested in Microsoft ecosystem then you will enjoy the seamless collaboration among Microsoft products.
My Experience With Outlook Spaces
The current version of Outlook Spaces can be best termed as an alpha product. I expect to see Microsoft focusing on adding more features and functionalities ahead of the public launch.
The software lacks the ability to import tasks and boards from other services such as Trello, Asana, and Jira. I would also like to see an Arrow as an added element so that you can connect your thoughts visually on the board.
The template collection is dry as well. I’m sure Microsoft is working on adding more built-in templates before public rollout and after that, you can expect to see many community-based templates as well.
Speaking of positive experience, I enjoyed the Microsoft 365 integration. I’m a power OneNote and To-Do user and I like how Outlook Spaces completely blends with these two services. Aside from some glitches here and there, the overall Outlook Spaces experience has been smooth and bug-free.
Give Outlook Spaces a Try
Of course, it’s not for everyone and you probably won’t ditch your current setup from Trello or Asana to Outlook Spaces. But if you are invested in the Microsoft ecosystem and got the preview enabled on Outlook web, then give Outlook Spaces a try.