Back in 2014 Microsoft acquired Acompli, a company that had developed the popular mobile apps with a feature called Focused Inbox. A server side algorithm was used to “learn” the difference between important email and less important email, providing the users a very clean view of their mailbox showing only the most relevant messages.
The Acompli apps have then been rebranded to Outlook Mobile and the algorithm was migrated to Office 365 and Azure’s machine learning capabilities. The next step is to bring Focused Inbox to Outlook and Outlook on the Web, which Microsoft recently announced. See Outlook helps you focus on what matters to you.
I’m sure that any Exchange Online admin remembers how Clutter was introduced, a new and potentially confusing mailbox feature without any admin controls. With Focused Inbox Microsoft is planning to do a better job and has announced admin control before the actual roll-out to the Office 365 tenants.
Admins will be able to disable or enable Focused Inbox on the tenant level with Set-OrganizationConfig and the -FocusedInboxOn parameter. Similar to Clutter there will be cmdlets to manage the feature per mailbox as well, expect something like Get-FocusedInbox and Set-FocusedInbox.
Focused Inbox will begin to roll-out in the September-October timeframe, starting with First Release customers. More information on admin controls will be available before roll-out, giving admins more time to develop a strategy on how to handle the implementation of this new feature.