M365 Changelog: Retirement of entities in Outlook for contextual add-ins

MC715428 – Microsoft making some changes to the way Outlook supports contextual add-ins. Contextual add-ins activate based on the content of an email message or a meeting request. Currently, Outlook supports two methods for activating contextual add-ins: entity stamping and regular expression (regex) matching.

Entity stamping is a process where Outlook identifies and highlights certain types of data in a message, such as addresses, phone numbers, meeting suggestions, and task suggestions. When a user clicks on a highlighted entity, Outlook shows a list of add-ins that are relevant to that entity.

Regex matching is a process where Outlook matches the content of a message against a set of regular expressions provided by the add-in developer. When a match is found, Outlook provides a control that can launch the add-in.

When this will happen:

Microsoft will begin rolling this out in mid-May 2024 and expect to complete by mid-June 2024.

How this will affect your organization:

We’re retiring entity stamping and will stop highlighting entities in Outlook. This means that add-ins that rely on entity stamping will no longer activate when highlighted entities are selected. Add-ins that rely on entity stamping, such as Bing Maps, Action Items, and Suggested Meetings, will also be retired. However, Microsoft will continue to support regex matching in add-ins and the Join Meeting button in online meeting add-ins.

If you have any add-ins that use entity stamping, you’ll need to update them to use regex matching or the Join Meeting button prior to this change happening. Otherwise, your add-ins won’t activate in Outlook and may lose functionality.

As part of this retirement, the following APIs will stop working for add-ins:

  • getEntities()
  • getEntitiesByType(entityType) 
  • getFilteredEntitiesByName(name) 
  • getSelectedEntities() 

What you need to do to prepare:

To learn how to update your add-ins, see Use regular expression activation rules to show an Outlook add-in and Create an Outlook add-in for an online-meeting provider. For more details on the announcement, see Retirement of entity-based contextual Outlook add-ins.

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