Microsoft Outlook update wants to boost the hybrid working spirit

Keeping track of your team in this new hybrid working age should soon be more straightforward thanks to a new update to Microsoft Outlook.

The email service is working on a new feature that it says will allow workers more flexibility and efficiency when working away from the office.

According to an entry in the Microsoft 365 roadmap, the update, simply entitled “working hours and location” will allow users to set a notice showing where they are working, whether that be at home, in the office, or anywhere else in particular.

Flexible working

“New working hours and location options in Outlook lets people set more flexible working hours each day and specify the location from where they plan to work,” the roadmap entry adds.

The update is scheduled for general availability for all Web Outlook users across the globe, with a targeted release date of June 2022.

The news does mean that Outlook is finally catching up to some of its rivals when it comes to having flexible working-linked tools enabled.

Google Calendar launched a similar feature in August 2021, allowing users to highlight exactly where they would be working, with the options of home, office, or a specific other location.

Users can also create a weekly working location routine if they plan on going into the office on certain days and working remotely on others, which can be updated at any time if plans change. There was no information as to whether Microsoft's Outlook update will do the same, but we're hopeful it will.

In July, Google Calendar also added an option that allows users to specify whether they would be attending a meeting in-person or virtually using video conferencing software.

Outlook has released a number of updates recently as it looks to maintain its place as a leading email service for users across the world. Most intriguingly, the company says it is working on a tool that will help users eliminate mistakes from their messages with the launch of spelling and grammar checks for its Outlook on mobile platform.

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More

The best Christmas Zoom backgrounds to help you get into the festive spirit

Many holiday celebrations will take place over video conference again this year, which means plenty of people will be on the hunt for an excellent Christmas Zoom background.

Whether you're attending a virtual office party, present exchange or Christmas dinner, a festive background will only add to proceedings.

To help make your virtual festivities feel a little more like the real deal, we’ve compiled a selection of Christmas Zoom backgrounds that are bound to get you in the holiday spirit.

How to use Zoom backgrounds

Before picking out a Christmas Zoom background, you’ll need to know how to configure custom backgrounds on the platform. Thankfully, the process is really simple.

First, ensure the Zoom backgrounds feature is enabled in your account settings. You can do this by accessing your account page via your web browser, navigating to Settings in the left-hand bar, clicking on In Meeting (Advanced) and toggling Virtual Backgrounds to on (the slider will turn blue once the feature has been activated).

To configure your Zoom background, log into the desktop application and click on the settings icon in the top right corner. Under the Virtual Background tab, you can choose from stock options, or upload an image or video via the + icon below the video feed.

Whichever background you select in the settings panel will automatically be applied when you next log into a video conference.

For the best results, it’s important to ensure the video is bright and evenly lit. Your Christmas Zoom backgrounds won’t perform quite as well in partial darkness or glaring light, which can both result in unwelcome distortion.

Using a green screen backdrop is ideal, but impractical for many, and a plain background of any colour works perfectly well so long as your clothing isn’t the same color.

Christmas Zoom backgrounds

Thanks to a few generous elves, you're not short of options when it comes to selecting a Christmas Zoom background for your next video call.

Here’s a rundown of a few different selections you could choose from.

On the Zoom website, you can find a curated list of virtual backgrounds of all varieties. Under the Seasonal section, you’ll find a range of suitably festive options.


(Image credit: Zoom)

You’d bet your house on greetings card company Hallmark producing a fine selection of holiday-themed Zoom backgrounds – and the company has duly delivered.


(Image credit: Hallmark)

Image library Unsplash has a wide selection of wintery Zoom background options for you to choose from. You’re bound to find an option that suits you.


(Image credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt)

Cookie Monster
Everyone’s favorite Sesame Street resident is also getting in on the act. This snap of Cookie Monster doing what he does best makes for an excellent Zoom background.

Cookie Monster

(Image credit: Sesame Workshop)

Christmas HQ
We can safely assume that the experts at Christmas HQ know plenty about cultivating holiday spirit. This classy selection of backgrounds is attractive, but not obnoxious.

Christmas HQ

(Image credit: Christmas HQ)

Frozen – The Musical
The Broadway rendition of hit movie Frozen has offered up a selection of icy Zoom backgrounds for “those of use working from our kingdoms of isolation”. That might not sound very Christmassy, but the backgrounds are rather striking all the same.

Frozen - The Musical

(Image credit: Frozen – The Musical)

Walt Disney World
Disney World has to be up there with one of the most festive places on earth, as demonstrated by this selection of Christmas Zoom backgrounds from WDW Magazine.

Walt Disney World

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

The best webcams

TechRadar – All the latest technology news

Read More