Following Microsoft’s news that they will no longer be supporting the technology that most email management systems rely upon; see Does Microsoft’s new Outlook spell the end of email management systems?, we have had many requests for clarification, which are summarised here to help you understand the possible impact to your business.
When is the new version of Outlook going to appear?
It’s already being rolled out globally and Microsoft aim to have it completed by early June as mentioned in their news release:
You will then have a toggle in the top-right of Outlook enabling you to switch between the old and new versions:
If you want to get it now, visit this page Join the Microsoft 365 Insider Program (office.com)
Does Microsoft plan to end support for the current desktop version of Outlook?
Whilst they have not disclosed when support for the current desktop client will end, they are recommending customers move to ‘web add-ins’ because the old COM/VSTO add-in will not work in the new environment. Here is what they advise:
Whilst there is no need to panic, you would be wise to investigate this further and plan accordingly.
Will Microsoft continue to develop the old desktop version of Outlook?
Microsoft have already added capabilities to new Outlook that won’t appear in the old desktop client including: Pinning emails, Snoozing emails, using Loop within Outlook and Hybrid RSVP; you can see the full details on Microsoft’s Getting started with the new Outlook for Windows page.
Whilst this handful of new features may be of no interest to your business, you can be sure that Microsoft will be doing all they can to entice people to move to the new version so that they can retire the old one.
My email management vendor already has a ‘web add-in’, so are we unaffected by this change?
This depends on how you file your emails. Some vendors have provided web add-ins to integrate with third-party systems like document management products. If this is how you currently work, you may be fine. However, if you file emails to Windows Folders and want to continue to do that, a ‘web add-in’ is not going to work on its own, and just because the web add-in will work on a phone does not mean that searching will too, so ask your vendor “Following the update, will we be able to file to Windows folders and will we be able to search from phones, tablets, etc., too?”.
NOTE: You may be encouraged to switch to filing emails into SharePoint as a quick fix. This is not only an expensive way to store emails but can hammer SharePoint because each PC downloads every email to build its search index. This impacts the performance of SharePoint for everyone too and can also be perceived as a potential denial-of-service attack causing SharePoint to throttle all services to that user.
Our Vendor is planning to roll out a web add-in soon, so we should be fine, shouldn’t we?
As mentioned above, it depends on what you expect from your software and what the proposed add-in will do. You should check with your vendor and be clear about where you want the emails to be filed and how you want to search for them; consider asking them the question above. If you currently file to Windows folders it is very unlikely that a new web-add will help.
Will web add-ins allow us to both file and search from all devices?
Not necessarily. If your vendor provides full support for the new Outlook you will indeed be able to file & search with phones, tablets, Macs and browsers, but existing desktop search tools can’t be repurposed to provide web based search in support of mobile devices, browsers and Macs. In addition, the existing tools typically rely on Windows folder permissions to control access, allowing you to keep confidential email away from prying eyes, but a web based search tool needs a completely new security model to give you the ability to control access. So ask your vendor how they will support your search requirements on all your devices.
When will Microsoft fix this bug and add the missing features?
It’s not a bug. Microsoft have created a completely new way for applications to interface with both Outlook and other Office applications. Legacy software needs to be re-written to work in the new way as Microsoft are ending support for the old methods.
The new method uses web technologies and can’t write MSG files to your local folders.
Does CloudFiler support both the old and the new versions of Outlook?
Yes. You can use Outlook 2013 through to the new ‘One Outlook’ and with Exchange on-line, allowing you to file and search from any Outlook client, including Macs, browsers, phones, tablets and of course Windows PCs, and you can file messages into Windows Folders on your office network, SharePoint and other storage systems too.