Microsoft’s Garage is the company’s software skunkworks of sorts, a group of developers who spend some of their working time developing unofficial and often experimental apps. Quite often, those apps are cross-platform and sometimes even exclusively for competitive platforms, and they’re usually aimed at solving a very particular problem.
The latest Garage app is Email Insights, and it’s for Windows 10 only. The specific problem that this Garage project is directed at overcoming is the challenge of finding email messages faster and more efficiently, and Microsoft provides an overview on its news site.
For now, Email Insights works with the Outlook desktop app and with Gmail — there’s the cross-platform support aspect. Once you install the app, you’re directed to select either Outlook or Gmail and the app configures itself accordingly. Once it finishes configuring itself and creating an index complete with autocomplete and fuzzy logic, you’re ready to go. You can create separate tabs that connect to both email services and switch between them as you need to search your messages.
The app’s purpose is best described by Suresh Pathasarathy, senior research developer on Microsoft Research India’s Applied Sciences team, who says, “The idea is to remove the cognitive load of a user while searching. A user need not remember all the exact keywords or spellings for their queries. Contextual fuzzy name search obviates the need to remember spellings of peoples’ names. For instance, ‘Chris’ gets corrected to ‘Kris’ and ‘Philip’ gets corrected to ‘Philippe,’ depending on your inbox.”
According to Parthasarathy, Email insights is a search companion for Outlook and Gmail. Its entire purpose for existing is to make it easier and faster to find messages that might be difficult and time-consuming to locate in other email clients. The app is best when it’s pinned to the Windows 10 taskbar, essentially moving the Outlook or Gmail search button from the application or browser to its own easily accessible spot.
As with most Garage projects, Email Insights is an experimental project that’s laser-focused on a specific task. Garage projects don’t always last forever, and so users should be aware that the tool could be discontinued without notice. One example of a Garage project that was unceremoniously cancelled is the Cache note-taking app, which is shutting down at the end of the month.
In the meantime, you can check out Email Insights by downloading it from the Windows Store. You might find that it helps you locate that elusive email that you thought you’d lost, but really was only buried in your tens of thousands of spam messages.