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The New Outlook and Access/VBA

Updated: Dec 20, 2023


Microsoft is currently working on the so-called New Outlook that is no longer based on COM. This means that the traditional object model, the programmability and the automation of Outlook from other Windows applications such as Access will be lost. But one after the other:


What?

Microsoft had been a bit blurry with its public information about New Outlook so far. It was not always clear which programs or variants were affected by the change. For example, the references to the (also included) replacement of the less important Windows Mail and Calendar were misleading for many with regard to the "real", classic Outlook in Windows.


That has changed with this video from Sep 12. In it, it is made clear that all current Outlook variants (Windows, OWA, Mac, Android, IOS) will be unified on a common code base and interface. Cross-platform nowadays means web-based and Javascript speaking. Outlook, by its very nature as a communication application with a lot of Internet involvement, is the natural candidate for such a change.

When?

The statements about the timeline for classic Outlook replacement are intentionally vague. The manager in charge said in the video "a couple of years", "maybe a little more than 2 years", "there is flexibility", etc. I think some major uprisings of Windows Outlook users are yet to come and there are many other obstacles. So it could take some more years.


COM?

But Microsoft definitely wants Outlook to be the first classic and important Windows Office application that will lose COM, the object model and therefore the traditional programmability and automation by Windows and Office applications. What does this mean for VBA programmers with Access, but of course also Excel, Word etc. and in Outlook itself who have to programmatically generate emails, calendar entries, and much more?


Microsoft has made clear in the video that they will not "recreate" COM and that COM add-ins will no longer be supported, but only the Javascript web add-ins that have existed for some time.


So, what shall we do?

I can already hear the slightly satisfied (usually written) cries of the eternal lamenters for Access. ;-) But from my point of view, all this does not have to mean that there will be no interface and programmability at all, which we can also use with VBA and Access, if the customer pressure and the insight at Microsoft are big enough.


The New Outlook is built in WebView2. Therefore, I'm hoping for some sort of usable Javascript-based interface that can be accessed via VBA, something along the lines of what was built into Access for the modern Edge web browser control, which is also based on WebView2.


I don't know of any statement from Microsoft yet on the programmability and automation from other Windows applications. That's why I asked for it in a comment to the video. You can support my request with likes and mention additional aspects or ask questions about the matter there or on other feedback channels, so that the responsible people realize that this is not a small side issue for the New Outlook and put it on their todo list soon.


Current items on the todo list of the New Outlook team (taken from the video)

Addendum (Sep 28)

Daniel Pineault has written an item on the subject at the Microsoft Feedback Portal where you can cast your vote and comment for Microsoft to take care of the problem.


Addendum (Oct 28)

At the recent AEK25, the Microsoft Access team presented their current position on New Outlook to inform the Access community. I wrote another blog article about it.

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12 Comments


Sven Knauff
Sven Knauff
Oct 02, 2023

We are a very big company with over 10.000 employees which are using COM to do a lot of automated things with Outlook. Microsoft, whatever you want to do, please keep the progammability of the microsoft product family as it is now by using COM. Kind regards from Germany Sven Knauff

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Christian Vonäsch
Christian Vonäsch
Oct 01, 2023

We have some 50+ customers with our Access-Solutions, that use COM to access Outlook! Microsoft, please do not stop this necessary feature!


Greetings from Switzerland!

Christian Vonäsch

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K.P. L.
K.P. L.
Sep 30, 2023

Die Benutzer sind selbst schuld! Schon vor langen Jahren hatte ich im Rahmen in einer lokalen MS Access Benutzergruppe - aber auch auf einschlägigen Online-Foren - anhand zahlreicher Beispiele auf die willkürliche und vielfach destruktive Software-Politik von Microsoft in Sachen Access, VBA, Outlook und mehr hingewiesen und angeregt, aus der Entwickler-Community heraus Einfluss auf den Software-Giganten zu nehmen, um die Dinge vielleicht ein wenig mitbeeinflussen zu können. Die Reaktion: Unverständnis und vorauseilende Kapitulation ("Da habe man gar keine Möglichkeiten", "verschwendete Zeit"). Gerade bei Online-Foren wurde man mit solchen MS-kritischen Positionen gar rausgeekelt. Vielfach wurde die Software-Politik von Microsoft sogar schöngeredet. Der Eindruck: Viele wollten es sich offenkundig nicht mit Microsoft "verderben". Insofern ist dieser neue Anschlag, über den jetzt hi…

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haubnerhj
Sep 29, 2023

After loosing Pivot capabilties in MS Access we facing the next poor development, It is a must not to loose the actual capabilities of VBA between MS Access and MS Office.

It's not astonishing that the reputation of MSAccess application is going down. It's a very poor trend for MSAccess developer.

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mail
Sep 29, 2023

Reinhold Lehmann


I think access from other Office applications is absolutely necessary!

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