App for Outlook, CRM, CRM features, Dynamics 365, Mobile, Unified User Interface

Out of Preview – Dynamics 365 App for Outlook v9.0


Well today is a day of announcements, and what a day it was to be a Dynamics 365 User, Partner or ISV.

Microsoft have made a few (major) announcements with regards to their Dynamics 365 platform as a whole and there ultimately will be a few posts on this by various members of the Dynamics 365 Community over the next few weeks.

I will briefly summarise these points, Microsoft have announced the Dynamics 365 Spring Release which includes some new functionality/additions and changes to the Dynamics 365 Business Application suite.

The Dynamics 365 Admin Center has also had a small update to accommodate and manage these changes as described in the following Dynamics 365 Blog.

So there is already a lot to digest, consume, collect thoughts and finally discuss (which I will do in a future article or two!) after today’s announcements. But another small announcement also snuck in…

Under the Radar

Microsoft also announced that the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook V9.0 has finally come out of Preview (I have not yet got access to an environment the new version yet).

This means that any Organisations on V9.0 will be able to use the new version of the App for Outlook (assuming they meet the existing requirements and are using Server Side Synchronisation) and will not have to go through the additional steps of enabling the preview.

Microsoft have added a few new useful features, such as the direct link to View the email in Dynamics 365, Pinning the App for Outlook pane and Search!

So this:

No Preview

Turns to (sorry its a bad picture!):


I previously wrote a few articles regarding the App for Outlook and highlighting some of the new features and also how to configure the Preview version. I will not go into these details again as the articles can be found here:

The un-deprecation of a deprecation announcement

Back in January, Microsoft made an announcement regarding the “Continued support of the Outlook Add-in” (Dynamics 365 for Outlook) which was due to be replaced by the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook. This decision was made after taking on-board the response from the Dynamics 365 Community and Microsoft’s customers who rely on the Outlook client heavily as part of their interaction with Dynamics 365.

Microsoft have stated that they are going to continue to invest in the Outlook Client to improve its performance and stability, but will not be adding an new features. This however, did raise the following question – what is next for the App for Outlook?

Unified User Interface (UUI)

The App for Outlook is based on the UUI, which is the new interface for Dynamics 365 released for version 9 and is the future of the platform (well except now for PowerApps and CDS V2!). Microsoft are working hard at making this the default interface to eventually replace our beloved web client (which also will mean the end of the Outlook Client as they share a common rendering engine), the un-deprecation announcement means that this is someway off yet.

The functionality of the App for Outlook will be brought in-line with the Outlook Client (i.e. Task Synchronisation/Tracking); Organisations currently have to choose between the functionality that the Outlook Client provides vs the compatibility of multiple devices that the App for Outlook supports. Bringing the features in-line will hopefully eliminate that decision (for Exchange customers) and the App for Outlook will become the preferred method (as Microsoft will tell you now!).

To Come

I will be giving my two cents regarding the other announcements over the coming weeks!

Thanks for reading,


App for Outlook, CRM, Dynamics 365, Mobile

How do you install the ‘Dynamics 365 App for Outlook Preview’


Welcome to my blog, previously I had written a series of articles introducing Users to the App for Outlook and what it can do.

Microsoft  highlighted the deprecation of the Dynamics 365 Outlook Client with the announcement of the July Update and Organisations should be looking at moving to the App for Outlook as its successor/replacement.

I often see people asking or wondering how they can install the Microsoft Dynamics 365 App for Outlook (Cloud based addin). Currently (at date of publish), this is still available in preview only i.e. you can see the big PREVIEW text whilst using the App and requires additional steps to configure on top of the prerequisites.

Dynamics 365 V9.0 is currently online only, so on premise D365 V9.0 configurations are not applicable at present; I expect this will soon change due to the V9.0 Customer Driven Updates (CDU) being shortly available.


Trying to configure the preview version of the App for Outlook can be a pain if you have not met all the pre-requisites which Microsoft layout in their basic steps listed here:

Please read the disclaimer on the page that looks like this:


Microsoft assumes you have setup an Office 365 tenant with Dynamics 365 and Exchange Online where Users have been assigned a license for each product or where they have a Dynamics 365 License and access to a supported Exchange mailbox for the addin to be installed too. You cannot just go in and setup a Dynamics 365 trial and expect it to just work – in fact, you actually have to enable the preview before you can get to the App for Outlook sitemap area.

The next sections will detail the steps allowing you to complete the setup from start to finish and end up with a working App for Outlook. This can take up to an hour or so to complete due to the provisioning of services and Users Mailbox, the Exchange services and associated mailboxes take the most time to provision here.

As this guide is creating a trial (most likely for demo/testing purposes) – then it is assumed that the User is the Global Office 365 Admin; this speeds up any privilege issues that may arise. But otherwise you will need a CRM Service Admin and Exchange Service Admin privileges in O365 for the initial configuration.

What are the configuration steps?

So from a high level – what actually needs to be configured or created?

  1. Creation an Office 365 Tenant
  2. Setup a Dynamics 365 Trial
  3. Setup an Office 365 Trial (E3 or E5)
  4. Assign User Licenses
  5. Create the Users Mailbox and set it up
  6. Configure Email Setting and User Mailbox in Dynamics 365
  7. Enable the App for Outlook Preview
  8. Add the App for Outlook the Users mailbox in exchange

Once all these high level steps have been completed, the Users will be able to use the App for Outlook! Simple huh?

Steps 1,2 – Provision a Dynamics 365 Trial

The quickest way I have found to kick start this whole process is to create a Dynamics 365 trial (which also creates the Office 365 tenant), this process can be kicked off at the following site (UK link):

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page
  2. Click Try Dynamics 365 > Start Free
  3. Complete/follow the steps to create the CRM instance.
  4. Choose your additional solutions.
  5. Login to Dynamics 365 after it has been provisioned.

Once you can finally see the D365 Sales area – your done! (This part at least).

This process can take up to 10 minutes to complete depending on what items you select when you want to use CRM. When setting up a Dynamics 365 trial, I usually install none of the additional solutions as you can do that separately with the Dynamics 365 Admin area once CRM is provisioned unless I explicitly know what the trial is going to be used for, i.e. PSA or FSM.


Step 3 – Exchange/Office 365 Trial

To set up Exchange (just the basic setup, no special requirements) – the easiest way is to select one of the Office 365 E3 trials to the Office 365 tenant. To do this:
  1. Navigate to the Admin area in Office 365.
  2. Click on Billing > Subscriptions > + Add Subscriptions.
  3. Select Office 365 E3/E5 – click Start Free Trial.
  4. Confirm the Order.
Microsoft will be provisioning the services in the background and may take up to half an hour to complete the set up of Office in your tenant.

Step 4 – Add Users/Assign Licenses

Whilst you are waiting – add any Users you require to your tenant and the assign them licenses to both Dynamics 365 and Office 365 E3/5 plan.
To add users:
  1. Navigate to Office 365 Admin area.
  2. Click on Users.
  3. Click on Active Users.
  4. Click + Add User.
  5. Fill in required information.
  6. In the Product Licenses area, select the Dynamics 365 and Office 365 Licenses.
  7. Click Save.


To add Licenses to existing users:
  1. Navigate to Office 365 Admin area.
  2. Click on Users.
  3. Click on Active Users.
  4. Select the User(s) you want to assign licenses to.
  5. Click on the Edit product licenses menu item.
  6. Select add existing assignments.
  7. Select the Dynamics 365 and Office 365 Licenses.
  8. Click Save.
Users will then eventually have access to both Dynamics 365 (when they are assigned a Security Role) and their Mailbox in Exchange. This may take up to 15 minutes or so! The next set of steps can be performed whilst this action occurs in the background to save some time.
Additionally, Users in CRM will need a Security Role with the “User Dynamics 365 App for Outlook” Security privilege:

Step 5 – Mailbox Configuration

Users actually have a few more steps to complete personally to configure their mailbox; this could probably be done in an automated way by an exchange admin – but I have not investigated this or know how to do this.
  1. When the Office Mail icon appears – this means that their mailbox is ready!
  2. When Users click on this – they will be asked to select their Timezone and Language/Format.
  3. Set this accordingly and then they should be able to log into Outlook for Web (OWA).
This step will confirm that the mailbox exists in Exchange – and will ensure that the addin will be installed first time and not get stuck in a pending state.

Step 6 – CRM Email and Mailbox Configuration

For the App for Outlook to work with Exchange/Dynamics – all synchronisation methods must be set to Server Side Synchronisation.
The default CRM setting should be set and each of the Users mailbox records should also be set accordingly, their email approved and the mailbox Tested and Enabled.
  1. Navigate to Settings > Administration > System Settings
  2. Click on the Email Tab.
  3. Set the Synchronisation Method to Server Side Synchronization for all, Incoming Email, Outgoing Email and Appointments, Contacts and Tasks.


Once these items have been completed – navigate to each Users Mailbox record and perform the following:
  1. Navigate to Settings > Email Configuration > Mailboxes.
  2. Select the User(s) mailbox records.
  3. Click on Apply Default Email Settings button in the Command Bar.
  4. Click on Approve Email button in the Command Bar.
  5. Click on Test and Enable Mailbox.
  6. If their mailbox has not yet been configured this will fail – so please complete step 5
  7. Once successful – this will be highlighted:
The App for Outlook pre-requisites should be now met.

Step 7 – Enable the Preview – App for Outlook

For Dynamics 365 V8.X – the App for Outlook sitemap area would be visible under the Settings area.
With V9.0 by default – it is not there:
This is where it needs to be enabled as it is in Preview.
  1. Navigate to Settings > Administration > System Settings.
  2. Click on the Preview Tab.
  3. Read the License Terms (Optional) and check the I have read and agree to license terms.
  4. This enables the sections that were greyed out.
  5. Navigate to MailApp Preview > Enable Dynamics 365 App for Outlook Preview = Yes.
  6. Click OK and close the System Settings window.
This is where the magic happens – hit CTRL + F5 to refresh the page, the Sitemap item should appear under the System group!

Step 8 – Add the Addin

One the Preview has been enabled – you can now add Addin to all Users whom meet all the pre-requisites.
  1. Navigate to Settings >System > Dynamics 365 App for Outlook.
  2. Select the User(s) you wish to add the App for for Outlook too and click either Add App to Outlook or Add App for all Eligible Users.
  3. Whilst the installation is pending, this will be installed to the Users Exchange Mailbox.
  4. When it has been completed:

Once it has been added – the User can use the Addin in Office!

Step 9 – Use

  1. Open OWA – open an email or send one and the addin should be viewable!
  2. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading – I hope this article helps you take a trial run of the App for Outlook for Dynamics 365!


App for Outlook, CRM, CRM features, Dynamics 365, Mobile, Unified User Interface

Introduction to the Dynamics 365 Mobile Apps for V9.0: Part 2

A Quadrilogy?

I am writing a series of blogs that will serve the readers as an introduction to the Dynamics 365 Mobile Apps for the latest version of CRM known as Dynamics 365 July Release (V9.0).

This is part 2 in the series – I hope the (series) blogs can be used as a reference guide for CRM Consultants/Customisers or administrators when deploying Dynamics 365 in their organisation or on behalf of their customers. I will highlight the key functionality of the mobile apps within the UUI framework.

Proving Ground

I will assume you have now decided that you intend to use the Dynamics 365 Mobile Apps – so my aim for this blog is to cover the following questions:

  • What are the mobile apps and types (of app) available with Dynamics 365?
  • How can you get the mobile apps and what are the prerequisites that need to be met?
  • How to you install the app to your devices?

I will post links to the official documentation/articles by Microsoft from their new documentation site for Dynamics 365.

Mobile Applications for Dynamics 365

Types of Mobile App

There are several types of mobile applications available to Users for accessing their Dynamics 365 data on their device, these are:

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Mobile Apps
  • 3rd Party integrated – developed externally by 3rd party providers

Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Mobile Apps

Base Phone and Tablet Apps

There are currently 2 offerings of the mobile applications for Dynamics 365, these are:

  • Dynamics 365 for Phone
  • Dynamics 365 (for Tablets/Windows 10 Devices)


These two apps are the focus of these articles and the topics will be based around the functionality provided by Microsoft. From a customisation perspective – they are using the same set of Dynamics 365 customisations*, but the content that is displayed will be in a different manner on the smaller phone screens compared with the larger tablet screens.

The next few sections will list out other options available for mobile applications which are linked to Dynamics 365 but are not the focus for this blog series. (There are 1 or 2 I will not be mentioning as they have either been deprecated, like the Project Services Finder App – which has been replaced with the base apps or have been removed from the product).

*depending on which modular app they are using

Modular Apps

Before we talk about the additional out of the box app offerings, I need to briefly describe about the concept of modular apps (a set of customisations and sitemap) within the XRM platform in Dynamics 365. These type of ‘Apps’ could be created using the App Designer to build up a particular area of CRM with a distinct set of functionality.


The app then filters the users view of CRM (via Entities/Forms/Views and sitemap) to the areas which are apart of the App allowing to them to stay focused on the key Entities that they interact with to complete their day to day tasks.

These have now been expanded to be configured to use the Unified User Interface (UUI) (more to come in a later blog). These apps will form the framework of a set of customisations that will be used for the base mobile apps for Dynamics 365.


App for Outlook

The new Outlook integration is now based on the UUI and actually runs in the context of a modular app in Dynamics 365. Technically, this is an exchange level mailbox add-in and not a standalone application or client that needs installing to your device, but it can run directly from your mobile Outlook application running the new UUI!


If you would like an introduction into the App for Outlook as a mobile replacement for your Outlook Client (for Dynamics 365) – please read my earlier posts:

Field Service Automation

Microsoft acquired Field One  back in 2015 which had a CRM addon for Field Service Management functionality. The goal of FieldOne is to provide organisations who offer customer services in the field a better way to manage and provides these services to their customers. Field Service engineers would need away to access the data to complete their assigned task in the field (more often than not) remotely through their mobile device.

Microsoft took the opportunity to integrate the FSA capability provided with FieldOne into the Dynamics 365 platform and re-branded the solution as Field Service Automation (FSA) which was built up as a modular app within the XRM platform and can be installed through the Dynamics 365 Admin Center as an addin solution.


The associated mobile application (for phones/tablets) is called “Field Service- Dynamics 365” which is available to Dynamics 365 Users who have been provided the correct License Type. This is one of the Apps that Dynamics 365 Users can use to access their Field Service data but requires some additional installation of a CRM solution from Resco as described here.

I envisage that the base Dynamics 365 Mobile Apps will have their functionality/capabilities expanded over a period of time and will eventually replace the Field Service App.

This may be achieved through the new Custom Control Framework (CCF) which is very hush hush at the moment and most likely under NDA for partners! Jukka Niiranen wrote a very good blog about the prospect and future use of the CCF here.

Additional MS Mobile Applications

The Microsoft stack is growing and growing – new ways to access your Dynamics 365 data are also increasing such as the introduction of  PowerBI, the Common Data Service, PowerApps and Flow.

PowerApps and PowerBI are great new ways of interacting with your Dynamics 365 – PowerBI for reporting and PowerApps to build custom “throw-away” apps to perform a particular set of tasks. They both have a mobile offering also!


3rd Party Integrated

Resco purchased CWR a couple of years ago and is now the largest 3rd party add-on provider for mobile solutions which is built on top of Dynamics 365.

As it is a 3rd party addon, there is an additional cost (per user/server) to organisations who wish to use the Resco solution (unless its in-conjunction with FSA – see above!).


Whilst there are still quite a few offerings to access Dynamics 365 data on a mobile apps available to organisations and its users, I will be purely focusing on the base Dynamics 365 mobile apps for this blog series.

How do I get the Apps?

The App Store

Ultimately, you can download the Dynamics 365 mobile apps through your devices App Store. If your mobile device is a part of an enterprise device management policy – you may have a dedicated app store for your organisation where you can only download authorised “Apps” from; you may need to ask your IT department to make this available for your organisation. But before you do, it may be best to check the prerequisites of the mobile apps!



Firstly there are two things to consider before installing the Dynamics 365 Mobile Apps:

  • Supported Devices
  • Security Role

I will make the assumption you are using CRM Online (as V9.0 has not yet been announced for on-premise release).

Supporting Device

Previously – Microsoft issued a supported device listing for the the mobile apps along with an operating system version. With the latest documentation, Microsoft just list the supported operating systems and recommended device specifications.

The list is available here: Support for Phones and Tablets

From a high level, the list can be split as follows into the following sections

Phone Operating System (with link)

The following operating systems are required for use of the Dynamics 365 for Phones mobile application.

Tablet Types (with link)

The following operating systems/devices are required for use of the Dynamics 365 mobile application.

Security Role Privilege

For users to be able to access your Dynamics 365 organisation with the Mobile Applications – the following security privilege will need to be assigned to the users (details here) via an assigned Security Role.

  1. Open a Security Role
  2. Navigate to the Business Management Tab
  3. Scroll down to the Privacy Related Privileges
  4. Set Dynamics 365 for Mobile = Organisation


This screen shows the out of the box sales person role which has the privilege enabled by default.

Installing the App

I will show you quickly how to install the app to your device – my screenshots are of the installation being completed on iPhone 6 with iOS 10 to install this through the Apple App store. This assumes that you can download the app through the devices default app store – otherwise you may need to select it through your organisations app store.

  1. Navigate to the App Store and find the app (i.e. search by typing Dynamics 365)img_4386
  2. Download the App by clicking “Get” or the Download icon.img_4387
  3. Wait for the App to be installed and click open.img_4388
  4. Or find the Dynamics 365 for Phones App icon on your home screenimg_4390
  5. Wait for the App to open and display the Organisation URL page!img_4361

The full (its shorter than above) installation guide can be found here:

Installation Guide

The Dynamics 365 Mobile should be ready to be configured – I will go through the configuration in my next blog as that will need to cover a few items in CRM.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have found this article of use – it will probably be my last of 2017, but I may find some time to right the next article before the year is out (assuming my trial has not run out!). I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and I wish you all a happy new year!

Thanks for reading, MW.

App for Outlook, CRM, CRM features, Dynamics 365, Mobile, Unified User Interface

Introduction to the App for Outlook – Dynamics 365 July Release Preview

Recently, there has been a lot of emphasis around the Dynamics 365 July 2017 or v9.0 as its also known as; Microsoft released the Unified User Interface (or UUI) for Dynamics 365 with this released for new Office 365 tenants. This built upon the design concepts of the MOCA client with the philosophy:

Code once, deploy everywhere.

I have previously written an article regarding the UUI when V9.0 was first announced to the world here:

Unified Interface for Dynamics 365

The Present

Fast forward until now – you can finally provision trials with Dynamics 365 V 9.0. A few of my colleagues and I have been putting a lot of effort into testing the new UUI in earnest to try and help with our customers come up with a clear upgrade strategy to upgrade to the next version of Dynamics 365.

Our testing for the UUI has been broken down the testing into the following topics:

  • App for Outlook
  • Tablet/Phone Mobile Client
  • Mobile Web Client (not the “web refresh”)

Spreading the Knowledge

My colleague, Chris Huntingford had already written an brilliant introductory blog (link above or here) into our initial findings of the Web UUI, which lists a few “Awesome” features and a few of the issues we have encountered so far which we have shared for all to read.

This article received some really good feedback from the Dynamics Community which highlighted some cool items that we needed to consider or had missed, so thank you!

Additionally – I would like to thank Jason Almeida and Rob Dawson for assisting us on the continued path of testing the UUI!

The “App for Outlook” – a Consultants Story.

So moving on to business – I have been testing out the new App for Outlook on my trial demo environment with two main objectives:

  1. How do we install the preview version of the App for Outlook?
  2. What can we do with the App for Outlook?

This blog will serve as an introduction and will aim to help you understand how the App for Outlook can be deployed and installed (point 1) and a high level overview of what it can and cannot do functionally; my next blog will cover point 2 in more detail.

Firstly, you may be asking yourself – “why are we talking about this when there is the Outlook Client”?

I would like STOP you right there – this article is in reference to the new cloud based App for Outlook addin which was first released with Dynamics 2016; the Outlook Client (installed to the Users machine) has been deprecated (RIP) and will be removed from support at some point in the future.

Preview Only


As part of Microsoft UUI release with Microsoft Dynamics 365 July Release (V9.0) – the App for Outlook is only released in preview; which means:

  • Dynamics 365 (online), version 9.0 or later only.
  • Not supported – Microsoft will not provide full product support until General Availability (GA)
  • Not complete product/functionality

Full details can be found here.Prevvvvv
So whilst this is great for the Partner to get their hands dirty and do some testing for Microsoft – for new customers, they would be stuck in a scenario where the recommended email synchronisation method is not actually officially supported by Microsoft yet. They may need to go back to the Outlook Client as an interim solution until support is offered/general availability.

Ok – what do I need to get the App for Outlook running for my Users?

Good question – there are several pre-requisites to get the App for Outlook running, I will provide the basics with the necessary links for these as separately, these can be quite a detailed process to complete.

  • Switch to server side synchronisation (SSS) for all Email and Activities in your V9.0 instance – reference here.
  • Have a supported version of Exchange (Exchange 2013, 2016 or Exchange Online).
  • Have a supported version of Outlook (through Office) (2013/2016/Outlook for iOS/Android/Mac or Outlook on the Web OWA).
  • Configure the Users mailboxes for SSS.
  • Enable the preview in your environment.

How can I access App for Outlook?

Previously, with the Outlook client you were restricted to the following:

  • Supported versions of Outlook/Exchange (still the case with the App for Outlook).
  • Installation of the Outlook client on each device you wanted to use (Windows only)
  • One synchronising client if accessing with multiple devices.

For the App for Outlook, you can use a single installation (addin to your Exchange Mailbox completed at the server level) across a multitude of devices and platforms where you access your mailbox through an supported Outlook App (i.e. Outlook for iOS). You can use the App for Outlook on the following devices:

  • Outlook on the Web
  • Outlook for Desktop
  • iOS mobile
  • Android Mobile
  • Windows Mobile


What can I do with the App?

There are some major functionality differences between the App for Outlook and the Outlook Client (taken from here):

Feature Dynamics 365 App for Outlook Dynamics 365 for Outlook
Track and set regarding for email Yes Yes
Track and set regarding for appointments Yes Yes
Track and set regarding for contacts Yes Yes
Track and set regarding for tasks No Yes
One click set regarding Yes No
Shows recipients’ summary Yes No
Shows the regarding record summary in the email/appointment Yes No
Works with Outlook on the web Yes No
Works with Outlook desktop Yes Yes
Works with Outlook for the Mac Yes No
Works with phones Yes No
Open and create Microsoft Dynamics 365 record directly Yes Yes
Apply custom forms and business logic Yes Yes
Work offline No Yes
Apply email templates Yes Yes
Apply sales literature Yes Yes
Apply knowledge articles Yes Yes
Ability to monitor emails after sending Yes No
Sort, filter, format, group, and categorize views No Yes
Create Word mail-merge documents No Yes

A lot of people will focus on the negatives – so neither Task synchronisation or Offline ability will be available (with this release) of the App for Outlook.


However – Tasks would synchronise via server side synchronisation as they normally would – you just will not be able to set the regarding or access the CRM fields in Outlook for Tasks.

Whilst you will not have the ability to work offline, you now can with the mobile apps!. The new functionality (in my opinion) far outweighs the functionality missing with the ability to work on the move with your mobile device – though however, this does depend on which device you are using as shown below:


Understanding the above items is crucial when deciding whether the App for Outlook is a good fit for your customers/organisation as it will help identify whether your current Dynamic/Exchange deployment are supported* moving forwards.
As I had previously stated – my next blog will talk about the functionality of the App for Outlook – what’s cool and what’s not so cool!

Known issues

The below link highlights some already known issues of the App for Outlook – and will be kept up to date by Microsoft.

You can find the second part to this article here.

Thanks for reading – MW.

*when Microsoft fully release this for GA

App for Outlook, CRM, CRM features, Dynamics 365

(RIP) Microsoft Dynamics Client for Outlook (CRM/365)

This is a clone of my original article from LinkedIn which can be found here and grammar corrected. I have added this article here as to collate all blog posts I write in relation to the D365 Spring Release as stated in my later blog.

Next Dynamics 365 Release Update

Over the last few days, Microsoft announced their latest update to Dynamics 365 – The Microsoft Dynamics July 2017 Update (spring release in summer!). To say this is a small minor update would be a big understatement, this is probably the biggest update that Microsoft have ever undertaken since Dynamics CRM v4.0.

Pierre Huslebus tweeted:

After working with #msdyn365 since 2002 v 1.0 this is by far the biggest update we have ever seen. So many #GameChangers#MicDrop

Dynamics 365 MVP Jukka Niiranen collated tweets across 3 Storify boards (1 for each day) which the CRM community shared for others too see on Twitter (thanks again Jukka!).

I am sure more and more blogs will posted with various CRM community members over the next few weeks detailing an overview or focusing on specific areas of new functionality that will be released. Whilst there are so many new pieces of functionality I would like to blog about, I will focus on one item I have taken immediate note of – an announcement which may slip under the radar for most:

Deprecation of legacy Microsoft Office components

The deprecation announcement includes:

  1. Outlook Client – Which includes Outlook Offline and Online Sync (Finally)
  2. SharePoint List Component – (nothing new here – already announced before)
  3. Mail Merge Word Addin (I also assume this will apply to not being able to download and use Export to Excel: Dynamic Worksheets as this requires the Outlook Client)

Back in March – Dynamics 365 MVP Steve Mordue wrote an excellent blog on the why the Outlook Client for Dynamics 365 should be deprecated; yesterday his wish came true!

Email Router/Office 2010 Deprecation

Microsoft have previously announced that the Email Router has been deprecated and so had support for Office 2010, it was only a matter of time before the last client based email synchronization method with the Outlook Client deprecation announcement.

What does deprecated mean?

Deprecated means that Microsoft will remove support for this product some time after the Dynamics 365 July 2017 release.

This does not mean it will immediately stop working (unless this is fully dependent on the 2011 endpoint which will also be removed) and there will be some time to allow Organisations to switch to the new App for Outlook.

It is worth also noting that you obliged to apply at least 1 major update per year with Dynamics 365 online’s update policy – so if you have just upgraded to Dynamics 365 Online – you will still have about 1 year to consider your options and test any new functionality/changes.

App for Outlook – preparing for the Cloud

Over the last few releases – Microsoft has slowly but surely adding support for the various Server Side Synchronization combinations which the App for Outlook requires and Users will need to be running at least Exchange 2013+ with Office 2013+:

  • CRM Online – Exchange Online
  • CRM Online – Exchange On-Premise (most recently added)
  • CRM On-Premise – Exchange On-Premise
  • CRM On-Premise – Exchange Online

The App for Outlook

Companies will need to start thinking about looking at the new Dynamics 365 App for Outlook – the cloud based Microsoft Exchange Addin (which also will gain some vast improvements in the next release).

There is no client installation (I hear Consultants/support teams screaming with happiness) as it is provisioned through Exchange as an Third Party Addin at the server level. This also allows it not to be device specific (i.e. just Windows OS with Office installed)

This allows you to:

  • Track Emails (and Set Regarding) and view related record information
  • Track Appointments (and Set Regarding) and view related record information
  • Track Contacts and link them to Accounts
  • Create Tasks/Phone calls*
  • Use on multiple devices – i.e. Outlook, Outlook Web App, Phones (iOS, Android and Windows using the Outlook Device specific app) and Outlook for Mac

*Tracking functionality not currently available for Tasks and Phone calls

There are some technical requirements/limitations to the App from a Software point of view.

Will I loose Offline Capabilities?

The Outlook client as the option of an Offline mode – which basic installs a local SQL database and synchronised your Dynamics 365 data so you can work offline when you loose an internet connection. So the initial answer is – yes, if you have enabled this.

The App for Outlook is currently used in an “Always Connected” instance – meaning that there needs to be a constant active connection to the Dynamics 365 server (i.e. Online requires an internet connection.).

There are workarounds to Offline

The Dynamics 365 for Phones/Tablets App (remember you can install the tablet version on your Windows PC through the Windows Store) has Mobile Offline Synchronization capabilities. These apps provide another way of accessing your Dynamics 365 data, formatted to the display of your device. In my opinion – this is a better way of accessing your data than through the clunky interface of Outlook web page rendering.

Preparation for the App for Outlook

Whilst a lot of Dynamics CRM/365 customers may be shocked at this path Microsoft has now laid out, they will need to be considering the impacts to their organisations from a business and technical point of view and start preparing to make the switch. Some questions/items to consider:

  • Switching/Testing Server Side Synchronization for each Mailbox (incoming Emails, outgoing Emails and Activities, Contacts and Tasks).
  • What is your Microsoft Exchange version – will this need to be upgraded? (if running 2010 – you need to be at least on 2013).
  • Which Microsoft Office versions are installed on Users machines: Office 2013 is a minimum (anyone running earlier versions cannot use the App).
  • How will you uninstall the Outlook client across each Users machine?
  • Do your mobile devices run the Outlook App?

The good news

Support Teams and Implementation Consultants (and even infrastructure teams) will be rejoicing at the news – the Outlook Client has always caused a fair amount of pain over the years. It has been unstable – memory leaking (left, right and center), synchronizing/network/firewall issues where common place and was very costly to support (from a resource perspective). So over a period of time – the (hidden) cost of the Outlook Client will become more noticeable (absent) as the number of support issues that arise (where implemented) decrease drastically!

Final thoughts

As a Technology consultant, I am always trying to keep up to date with the latest technology – but also be aware of the changes and impacts to existing organisations/customers that are using soon-to-be obsolete technology. This is a very exciting release of Dynamics 365 and I look forward to learning (and reading) other community content about the latest release.

Thanks for reading.