Microsoft Trims Set of Calendar Events Created from Email

Exchange Online Drops Processing of Non-Travel and Parcel Delivery Events

Office 365 notification MC218910 published on July 20, 2020 announces that Exchange Online will stop processing some inbound email to extract information used to create calendar events.

Events from Email has been around for a few years. The idea is that Exchange can detect events in messages like car hire reservations or airline bookings and use the information in the message to create calendar events to remind the user when the event is due. Because of the need to register organizations who sent messages containing event information, the feature has been most useful in the U.S. and Canada. Coverage is spottier and more inconsistent elsewhere.

Only Travel and Parcel Events

According to Microsoft, starting in late July with worldwide deployment complete by mid-August, Exchange Online will ignore events for:

  • Bills (for example, you need to pay your electricity provider).
  • Dining reservations.
  • Events reservations (for instance, you have tickets to attend a concert).
  • Service reservations (some other service you booked for is due to happen).

However, Exchange will continue to process events linked to travel (airline bookings, car hire, and lodging) plus events for parcel delivery (like notifications).

High-Value Events Retained

I don’t think the development will affect many users. Microsoft is retaining the high-value events linked to travel. People find it very useful for Exchange to extract details like flight numbers and departure times and use them to create calendar events (the resulting events like that shown in Figure 1 are usually more accurate than those created by cut and pasting information from airline booking messages). The case for parcel notifications is less obvious except that we all seem to be doing more online shopping at present.

A calendar event created by Exchange Online from an airline notification
Figure 1: A calendar event created by Exchange Online from an airline notification

Given the number of establishments which generate email notifications (see this list for the recognized senders supported by Microsoft), it’s understandable that Microsoft might want to drop processing for the non-travel events, especially when you consider the many varied formats used. The difficulty of tracking and processing so many different types of notifications is probably what’s driven Microsoft to this decision, which will be regretted by some and ignored by most.

This kind of change infuriates authors. Blog posts need to be updated, book content scrapped, and generally it makes life a little more difficult. But that’s why Office 365 for IT Pros is updated monthly to make sure that our readers always have up-to-date information at their fingertips.

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