There were a couple of interesting announcements around Outlook this week. 

First, Repstor announced the release of affinity 3.0. The affinity solution gives users direct access to content without leaving the Outlook interface, regardless of where that content is saved, online or offline.

This is a full point release so there are multiple upgrades and improvements, including enhanced Word, Excel and PowerPoint integration.

You can also compare documents in Word and convert documents to Adobe PDF directly from affinity. It also offers new supported repositories including HighQ Collaborate and Meridio, along with the existing SharePoint, OneDrive, HP WorkSite and HP Records Manager/TRIM support.

Access to Repstor affinity folders and content is possible using the file system through the Repstor drive product. This enables users to save from any Microsoft Windows application directly into affinity. This release also delivers enhanced email and content management by providing deeper integration with Office 365.

These are welcome additions to affinity. However, it doesn’t remedy the biggest problem with content management, notably the lack of a well-constructed content strategy. Without that, no amount of technology is going to help.

Outlook’s New Interface

After previewing the new version of Exchange 2016, Microsoft turned its attention to Outlook, which now has a new look and a new name.

From now on “Outlook Web Access” is now “Outlook on the Web,” which will probably make it easier for users unfamiliar with Microsoft products to remember.

It also has a simplified and cleaner user interface that features a new action bar across Mail, Calendar, People and Task experiences. This offers quick access to the most common commands.

There are other improvements that will help users better manage their inboxes, including Pin, Sweep, Archive and Undo.

Sweep is a simple set of actions that provides a way manage email from specific senders.  Undo lets you reverse actions in emails quickly.

There are also additions to the calendar function that you can check out here.

To improve email and calendar experiences on Windows Phone, iOS and Android, Microsoft built the mobile Outlook apps. Improvements to the tablet experience will be released later.

SpringCM Tracks Documents

SpringCM has upgraded its document management this week with the addition of the Track-It for Deal Visibility app, which provides control and insight into the status of sales documents and contracts via Salesforce.

Track-It combines SpringCM’s cloud-based document and contract management platform with its workflow engine. It was developed to help users who need to closely track documents “in motion”.

Track-It also gives users visibility into documents like contracts or proposals as they go through the review and approval workflows. Among the features that come with this upgrade are pending activity tracking, past activity tracking, remind actions and contract analytics.

Accusoft Manages Annotations

Accusoft, which provides document, content and imaging solutions, announced the release of Prizm Content Connect v. 10.3 with enhancements to the Client API, internal document links, document signing and content conversion services.

Accusoft claims to provide a more seamless and efficient experience for end users, while also making it easier to implement them on the back end.

The principal offering in this release is the management of annotations from multiple reviewers. With it, users can assign permissions to view annotations, and each set of annotations will be on a separate layer, allowing users to focus on annotations one set at a time or all at once.

This new feature makes viewing and managing annotations easier for both the manager of the document and the reviewers, the company claims.

IBM’s Medical Imaging Play

IBM is an unusual player in the document management space, but dips its toe in with the acquisition of Merge Healthcare for $1 billion.

Big Blue isn't bringing this anywhere near a document management system, but instead will add Merge to its Watson Health analytics unit, which will combine data and images with Watson computing platform's image analytics in order to provide better medical insights.

Merge, if you haven’t come across it before, develops medical imaging and clinical systems, which explains the document management element of it.

The deal is IBM's third major health-related buy since launching its Watson Health unit in April.