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The Microsoft Access Team's Position on New Outlook

Updated: Nov 7

In a recent article, I described that Microsoft is working on a New Outlook to replace all current Outlook variants, including the classic Outlook for Windows in a few years. New Outlook does no longer support COM and thus all VBA solutions that automate Outlook would no longer work.

I asked the Microsoft Access team to present their current position on New Outlook in their session at my German Access developers conference AEK25 on Oct 14+15, and they delivered.

Update (Nov 3): You can now watch the recording on my Youtube channel. Here is a picture from the recording showing their slide on the topic, as well as four members of the Access team. Software engineer Shane Groff and technical lead Dale Rector spoke on the topic.

The Microsoft Access team's slide on New Outlook at AEK25

The most important is in the last bullet point. The Access team assumes that the classic Outlook Windows client will be included in the next perpetual Office (LTSC, presumably 2024) and therefore will be supported at least until 2029 due to the usual support period of 5 years. This is not yet official, and the Office and Outlook departments will not give more specifics until next year. But still, this is a strong hint that the Windows client will not go away soon.

Another statement from the Access team was that if New Outlook really does replace the Windows client, they expect the Outlook team to provide a solution to the automation issue, which after all affects not only Access, but also Excel, Word and others. It was emphasized (see bullet point 4 on the slide) that - thanks to our noisemaking ;-) - there are ongoing discussions with the Outlook team about the issue. So, the responsible team has been clearly informed that there is a problem with a few million applications.

It was also said that should this "general" automation solution not come, the Access team would provide a solution specifically for Access, because they are aware of the importance of the matter for Access users and developers and the product. To put it differently:

Plan A, B or C?

In the discussion with the Access team, I mentioned that I had presented 3 possible plans for solving the problem in my previous conference session:

A) New Outlook fails to replace classic Windows Outlook, for whatever reason. Definitely the best solution for us Access and VBA people.

B) Windows Outlook is replaced and Microsoft delivers a satisfactory new automation solution. Be it an overall solution for all affected or the Access team specifically for Access.

C) Microsoft does not deliver anything usable for us. We as customers and developers have to create workarounds and solutions ourselves. That would be the worst option.

The Access team responded that they are strongly committed to plan A or B and certainly want to spare us C, not only out of customer orientation, but also because Access-internal methods for working with Outlook are based on COM.

Shane Groff said he could only stress that as much as they constantly stress that neither VBA is dead, nor that Access is dead, knowing that they can't stop the eternal rumors with it. There are always people with more insight than the manufacturer.

Summary message to all Access developers:

Don't panic!

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