At the end of June, Microsoft announced that Dynamics 365 for Outlook (“Outlook add-in”) is deprecated with the July 2017 update for Dynamics 365. The Outlook add-in is a legacy feature that has been around for a while. Microsoft provided more details regarding this announcement on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Team blog.
What deprecation means
When a Dynamics 365 feature is “deprecated,” it means Microsoft intends to remove the feature capability from a future major release of Dynamics 365. The Outlook add-in will continue to work and is fully supported until it is officially removed. However, Microsoft will not invest in new functionality for the add-in. After removal, the Outlook add-in will no longer work.
The add-in is deprecated with the upcoming July 2017 update for Dynamics 365 (online), which is a major release (version 9.0). Microsoft will remove the add-in with version 10.0, which will be the major release after the July 2017 release. The removal applies for versions 10.0 and onwards. Microsoft will continue to support the add-in in versions earlier than version 10.0 until the Dynamics 365 version itself is not supported.
The following diagram shows how they plan to support the add-in in existing and future versions of Dynamics 365.
Why deprecating? Why now?
Today’s users expect products to be fast, contextual, and easy to navigate. While the add-in has many capabilities, the user experience is not as up to date as the rest of the Dynamics 365 product. COM add-ins (which Dynamics 365 for Outlook is based on) are older, slower, and supported only in limited versions of Outlook. In the last few years, Office released “Office add-ins,” which, unlike COM add-ins, don’t have any code physically installed on the user’s device or Outlook client, and therefore results in better maintainability and reliability. Also, the new add-ins are not limited to Outlook running on Windows; they also run on Outlook Web App, Outlook for Mac, and Outlook for mobile. With the latest Dynamics 365 enhancements, improvements to Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, and with enhancements Microsoft plans to release in the near future, users will have a better experience while using Dynamics 365 App for Outlook and will have the functionality they need to run their businesses.
Also, as previously mentioned, Microsoft is committed to supporting the add-in for the upcoming major release (July 2017 update for Dynamics 365 online) and previous releases, so customers have time to plan for this change. The combination of the new Office add-ins, enhancements to Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, and the long time they provided to prepare for this change is the reason for announcing the Outlook add-in deprecation at this time. See the contrasting Dynamics 365 App for Outlook (first image) with the Outlook add-in (second image).
For the duration of the upcoming major release, the add-in is available and supported. Customers can use the add-in while exploring Dynamics 365 App for Outlook. An organization can use server-side sync as the syncing mechanism, and have a set of users working with the app and another set of users working with the add-in, but it’s not recommended for a single user to use both the app and the add-in on the same client.
The current version of Dynamics 365 App for Outlook supports tracking, linking, and viewing Dynamics 365 information for emails, appointments, and contacts with Outlook on the desktop, web, or phone. For full details on what’s supported, see support metrics. The July 2017 update for Dynamics 365 (online) will add much more functionality and flexibility to the app.
In the July 2017 update for Dynamics 365 (online), Microsoft invested in a new Unified Interface framework that provides a uniform experience for all new applications. Starting with this release, when using Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, users have access to much Dynamics 365 information. In addition to tracking and viewing information for the records that relate to the email recipients, or the regarding record, users can search for any record, navigate to that record, and edit it, all within the app. This experience is like the existing add-in, where it’s a “one stop shop” for users.
Dynamics 365 will continue to offer offline capabilities by using Dynamics 365 for phones and tablets. With the add-in, you can use Offline mode only on Outlook for Windows. Working offline with Dynamics 365 for phones and tablets provides a better, richer, and more intuitive mobile experience.
Microsoft will also provide a solution for Excel dynamic worksheets, which is available today with the add-in.
Deprecating a legacy feature is never easy, but we’re very excited about the new Outlook app and the business value it provides to our customers. This new app brings the most up-to-date experience for pairing Dynamics 365 with Outlook. The long period between the deprecation notice and the removal of the legacy Outlook add-in ensures customers have enough time to prepare for the change.