Link unfurling and search based message extensions in Outlook generally available

Namrata Khubchandani

Sharing external content and workflows from business applications has been a common use-case for Outlook enterprise users. Collaboration and day-to-day coordination with internal and external teams, vendors, and suppliers requires users to constantly switch between business applications (task management, incident management, file sharing, approvals, CRM and many more) and productivity apps such as Teams and Outlook, potentially disrupting their focus and flow of work.

Earlier this year, we announced public preview for search based message extensions in Outlook, allowing developers to extend their existing search message extensions and link unfurling in Teams to Outlook without any new technical investments. We’re now announcing the General Availability (GA) for this feature in Outlook. As part of this milestone, Outlook users will soon be able to:

  1. Insert a link, and have it expanded into a rich actionable preview card (where a corresponding message extension supports it through link unfurling), allowing recipients to get additional context on the link and complete their workflows in Outlook, without context switching.
  2. Search external systems using message extension apps (where available) and insert rich content in their emails.
  3. View full details of an item through the cards where supported via the Stage view capability (e.g., viewing a task or video without leaving Outlook).

Let’s take a look at a video outlining these features using our demo ‘Northwind Orders app’

As seen in this scenario, search based message extensions and link unfurling in Outlook allow the users to collaborate and coordinate effectively, without switching context and allowing end-to-end workflow completions without leaving Outlook.

Who can use this?

Users using Outlook for Web or Outlook for Windows Desktop will be able to use link unfurling and search based message extensions to add rich contextual information to their emails. The inserted content will be visible to users receiving these emails on Outlook for Android and iOS as well.

For developers, if you’ve built a search based message extensions app for Teams, you can easily extend it to Outlook without any additional development effort following the two simple steps outlined in this article – Extend a Teams message extension across Microsoft 365 – Teams | Microsoft Learn.

What scenarios light up in GA?

Some of the top category of apps where search based message extensions will add value in Outlook include project management, CRM, content or utility sharing, support desk management, Productivity and a lot more. Some of the available key apps to try out these scenarios hands-on include JIRA, Power BI Priority Matrix, Zoho Projects, Zoho SDP, MURAL, YouTube, Trello, Confluence and more!

Task management – Now instead of sharing just task links or titles from JIRA, Priority Matrix or Zoho Projects in Outlook, you’ll be able to automatically give additional context through these previews and recipients will be able take actions such as update status, re-assign tasks or add comments without having to switch context to visit these links in browser.

Data visualization – With Power BI, you can share critical reports with your recipients who will be able to see details and click on actions to subscribe to these reports.

Productivity – With MURAL, you’ll be able to share and collaborate on MURAL items from within Outlook – keeping you in the flow of your work – improving focus and productivity.

Support Desk Management – With the Zoho ServiceDesk Plus Cloud, users can easily collaborate on and track their IT requests and incidents, assign tasks, add notes and perform other actions relevant to their ServiceDesk requirements right in Outlook.

Content sharing – With YouTube, you can now share and view videos all within Outlook, without having to switch between multiple applications as you get your work done!

The only question that now remains is – have you tried these out yet?

Note: To use link unfurling or search based message extensions, ensure you’ve installed the app from Teams / Outlook store. If you’re unable to see the apps in your Outlook, please contact your administrator.

Action-based message extensions now in public preview on Outlook

Alongside this GA announcement, we have some more exciting news for you! Action-based message extensions, a highly requested feature, is coming to public preview in Outlook. With action-based message extensions, developers can enable their users to interact with their external application through rich task module experiences and trigger rich workflows to insert rich actionable cards in Outlook. This helps light up new scenarios like creating approval requests, surveys, tasks and many more!

If your app already has action commands in your message extension which sends cards via the user, you can start testing the capability now in the targeted release program. Please note, sending cards via the bot is not supported on Outlook today.

Let’s take a look at another demo with Action message extensions in Outlook:

Who can try this out today?

The Preview roll-out of this new capability has started for users enrolled in the Microsoft 365 Targeted Release program or who are members of the Office Insiders program and have Outlook for Windows installed from the Beta Channel.

For developers, if you’ve built an Actions message extensions app for Teams, you can easily extend it to Outlook in simple steps (without any additional development effort) using Extend a Teams message extension across Microsoft 365 – Teams | Microsoft Learn.



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