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The New Outlook and Access/VBA

Updated: Oct 28

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:


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.


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.


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 23)

Making our interests known here and elsewhere (please continue to support this) has already led to some constructive dialog and initial movements at Microsoft. I'll keep you posted here, as much as possible with respect for confidentiality.

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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