Tuesday, Microsoft announced a new plug-in for Outlook 2007. Information Week reports on this collaborative effort between Microsoft Research and Office Labs. The plug-in targets email overload and “uses various algorithms to automatically identify the importance or urgency of e-mail messages delivered into an Outlook 2007 in-box.”

It will allow automatic prioritizing of emails, and allow user to pause email delivery.

Email Prioritizer affixes e-mail with between zero and three stars to represent the urgency or importance of a given message. The program uses a number of algorithms that take into consideration things like the name of the sender and whether the receiver is on the “To” line or the “Bcc” line of an e-mail to determine priority, though at this point Microsoft isn’t forthcoming with a full list of exactly what Email Prioritizer takes into consideration.

“Users can also set e-mail priorities manually by changing or assigning a star ranking themselves. These user settings can inform automatic prioritization: for example, if someone always sets e-mails from his manager to three stars, those e-mails will eventually begin to arrive already bearing the three stars.

Email Prioritizer also comes with a “do not disturb” feature that allows users to tweak Outlook’s settings so that no new e-mails arrive until set periods of time between 10 minutes and four hours have passed.

Office Labs is one of a number of public-facing Microsoft “labs” attached to product groups that Microsoft has created in the past few years, including Live Labs and AdLabs.”

by Bill Stroll, Sales Manager, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
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