Microsoft Enables Feature That Blocks Reply-All Emails

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. disruptive / dɪsˈrʌp tɪv / (adj) – causing a disturbance in the flow of something

    During meetings, you should avoid disruptive behavior like yawning or using your phone.

  2. succeeding / səkˈsi dɪŋ / (adj) – following after something

    The succeeding seasons of the TV show weren’t as popular as the first season.

  3. thread / θrɛd / (n) – a series of online or electronic messages related to each other

    The popular post has a very long comment thread.

  4. moving forward / ˈmu vɪŋ ˈfɔr wərd / (idiom) – from now on

    Moving forward, the government plans to create policies that will keep the economy stable even in times of crisis.

  5. real-time / ˈri əlˈtaɪm / (adj) – being shown at the same time that an event is happening

    Nowadays, people can get real-time updates on current events through social media.


Read the text below.

Microsoft has introduced a new “Reply All Storm Protection” feature in Office 365.

This email protection feature is intended to detect and stop “reply-all email storms,” which happen when a large group of people use the reply-all option in mass emails and trigger a flood of messages. Email storms are disruptive to company operations because they increase server activity and may cause servers to slow down or even crash.

Microsoft said that the feature is designed to help large companies, which tend to have high email activity. The feature was first announced in 2019 but was made available only in May 2020.

The feature automatically activates if 10 “reply all” messages are sent to more than 5,000 recipients on a company’s email server within an hour. When this happens, succeeding replies to an email thread will be blocked for four hours.

According to Microsoft, a couple of internal incidents served as inspiration for creating the feature. The company has experienced two instances of “reply-all email storms,” one in January 2019 and another in March 2020. Over 52,000 employees were involved in these incidents, which disrupted internal servers for hours.

Microsoft said that moving forward, it still wants to make improvements to the feature, such as adjusting it to be suitable for smaller companies.

The company also plans to add controls for customizing email storm detection limits, as well as real-time notifications that alert administrators when email storms are starting. These notifications can help administrators monitor the status of email servers to prevent them from slowing down or crashing.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What else can companies do to prevent issues with emails (e.g. setting company email guidelines; teaching email etiquette to employees)? Explain.
• What are the possible downsides of having the “Reply All Storm Protection” feature on work emails (e.g. Once activated, it will block incoming urgent emails for four hours.)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What do you consider to be proper email etiquette (e.g. responding in a timely manner, not using emojis)? Discuss.
• Do you think a lot of people in your country practice proper email etiquette? Why or why not?