New Microsoft Tool to Keep 'Reply All' Messes at Bay

'Reply All Storm Protection' feature to keep Office 365 users' inboxes clear of 'reply all' messages
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2020 9:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – Other than a reaming from your boss or a missive announcing a daylong company meeting, there are few work emails that prompt more dread and annoyance than one that ends up getting caught in an endless "reply all" chain. Per ZDNet, Microsoft now says it has a solution to this existential e-dilemma, at least for Office 365 users: the "Reply All Storm Protection" feature, which IT staff can implement to stop such email maelstroms. How it works: If an email sent to more than 5,000 recipients gets more than 10 "reply alls" within an hour's time, the Exchange Online system will stifle any further replies for the next four hours. Those who try to send a reply to everyone in the group will see the message "The conversation is too busy with too many people," along with a recommendation not to reply to all.

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The new feature comes not only because employees get irritated by the resulting deluge of emails during a "reply all" session that spirals out of control (aka a "reply allpocalypse," per the Verge): It can also lead to such a large amount of traffic that it causes a company's server to get sluggish or even crash. Microsoft itself has suffered from two recent "reply all" incidents: one in March and one in January 2019. The company's "reply all" remedy is rolling out to worldwide users this week. Microsoft says it will eventually make the feature more flexible so that IT workers can set their own parameters for smaller businesses. (Read more Microsoft stories.)

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