Retirement of entity-based contextual Outlook add-ins

Sam Ramon

Today, we’re announcing that entity-based contextual add-ins in Outlook will be retired in Q2 of 2024.

Contextual Outlook add-ins were introduced in Mailbox requirement set 1.1 to identify entities in messages and appointments, such as an address or a phone number. The add-ins would then initiate tasks based on these entities without leaving the mail item. Over time, the adoption of contextual add-ins decreased, while the cost to maintain it remained substantial. After careful consideration, we believe that we could provide you with a more valuable experience by focusing our resources on other areas. Because of this, we’ve decided to retire entity-based contextual Outlook add-ins.

Once retired, contextual add-ins will no longer be able to detect entities in mail items to perform tasks on them. Support for Microsoft add-ins that rely on this feature, such as the Bing Maps, Action Items add-ins, and Suggested Meetings will be discontinued.

We know this change may cause some inconvenience and disruption to you. To help minimize potential disruptions, the following will still be supported after entity-based contextual add-ins are retired.

  • We’re developing an alternative implementation of the Join Meeting button in meetings, which is activated by online meeting add-ins. Once support for entity-based contextual add-ins end, your online meeting add-in will automatically transition to the alternative implementation to activate the Join Meeting button.
  • Although contextual add-ins will no longer be able to activate on detected entities after support ends, we will continue to support your add-ins activating on regular expression rules. To learn how to configure your add-in with regular expression rules as an alternative solution, see Use regular expression activation rules to show an add-in.

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we make this change. If you have any questions or concerns about this change, please raise an issue on GitHub.

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