Please note that this post refers to a feature in a preview edition of Outlook 2013 – features and functionality may change before the product ships, etc, basic arse-covering.

Have you ever started a reply to an e-mail, saved it as a draft, and then forgotten about it and found it again weeks later? I know I have. A new feature in Outlook 2013 (preview) makes drafts instantly visible. It’s worth noting that this is associated to another new feature – previously, replies and forwards would open in a new window. In Outlook 2013 (preview, but I’m going to stop mentioning that now) you have the option of having the reply appear on the surface of the inbox’s preview pane. You can turn this off, or if you have this option set on but wish to work on the reply in a new window you can ‘pop out’ the reply e-mail.

But what happens when you move to another e-mail mid-way through composing that reply? As the reply is in-place you lose the context… but you don’t lose the e-mail. At that point the reply is automatically saved as a draft, and the draft is shown as part of the original e-mail’s conversation thread. And so you can’t forget it’s there, a big orange [Draft] marker is places against the conversation. If you click back on the thread, the draft e-mail is the one that automatically comes back into view in the preview pane (you don’t have to expand the thread and then select the draft).

A nice feature. There’s loads more in Outlook 2013, which I’ll cover off in the coming months.