Today on the Official Gmail Blog, Google announced it is rolling out an all new compose and reply window that pops up in a small window similar to chats. As Google explained in its blog post, the new window will make it easier to view your inbox while composing drafts as well as providing the ability to compose multiple messages at once. New features that come with the redesigned compose window include “the ability to easily insert inline images” and profile pictures next to contacts in autocomplete. However, there are a few old, familiar features missing.

This makes it easy to reference any other emails without ever having to close your draft. You can even do a search or keep an eye on new mail as it comes in. And because the compose window works the same way as chats, you can write multiple messages at once and minimize a message to finish it later… You can also drag and drop the new address chips between to:, cc: and bcc:. When you’re done adding recipients, the address area collapses automatically to get out of your way.

Google also explained that the redesigned compose experience also applies when replying to messages:

The reply experience has been designed to fit better inline as part of your conversation — replies take up much less vertical height, intelligently expand to fit your content, and always keep the recipients and other controls in view no matter how long your message gets.

A preview of these new features started rolling out today, and Google said they will roll out to all users in the coming months. Instructions courtesy of Google for enabling/disabling the preview below:

Once you click the Compose button, click the “new compose experience” link right next to the Labels button at the top of the message. Until the change is fully launched, you’ll be able to choose whether you use the new or current experience.

Google also noted some of the familiar features not yet available for the new compose experience that will be added in the near future: 

A few familiar features aren’t yet available yet, but we’re working hard to make them available to you soon.

  • Insert emoticons and event invitations
  • Print drafts from the More menu
  • Add labels to outgoing messages from the More menu
  • Send read receipts (Google Apps users only)
  • Canned responses