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Everything new in Microsoft Outlook announced at Build 2021

At Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference, Microsoft talked about some upcoming updates for Outlook, its popular email solution. There are two new features coming soon: Organization Explorer and message extensions in Outlook for the web.

Organization Explorer is a new embedded app for Outlook that will be coming this summer. It’s goal is to help you find co-workers or teams with similar skills as your own so you can collaborate together.

Microsoft says this app comes at a time when businesses have become more distributed, making this task a challenge. With the app, you can visually search across your company to explore colleagues and teams and identify skills to help you complete your work.

The new Organization Explorer option is available to Office Insiders in the Beta channel running version 14101 or later. Not everyone will see it right away, though, as Microsoft is planning to slowly release it to a larger number of Insiders over time. The feature will come to non-insiders once beta testing is complete.

Message extensions in Outlook for the web, meanwhile, is more of a feature for developers with the aim of making your email process easier. With the support for message extensions in, developers should see a unified experience across both Teams and Outlook on the web.

For you, this means that when you go to compose a message, you’ll see a new menu of search-based extensions to choose from. You might be able to compose an email, then use a message extension that pulls tasks from your Teams apps, and then send that out to your teammates.

A final change that you’re not likely to directly notice in Outlook is a developer-centric one that relates to Teams. Microsoft announced that developers can now build one “Adaptive Card” and use it across Teams and Outlook with one universal action model. This means developers can share user interface data so that their experiences are more consistent across both Teams and Outlook.


This is a change from the past, where developers had to build two separate Adaptive Card integrations for Outlook and Teams. Basically, Outlook and Teams apps should be more concise and in line with each other.

Build 2021 is still underway, and it’s expected to come with additional announcements surrounding Teams, Windows 10, and the rest of Microsoft 365. Check out our dedicated Build page for all the latest from the virtual developer event.

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