Edge WebView2 Enables Reusable OWA Features
Last October, I wrote about Microsoft’s One Outlook vision, essentially a plan to rationalize the many forms of Outlook around a more rational approach to development. The Edge WebView2 control is a big part of the plan because it enables Outlook desktop to consume web-based features developed for OWA. That’s why Microsoft now distributes the WebView2 control with Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise (desktop Office click to run).
Room Finder Now Used in Outlook Desktop
In the article, I mentioned OWA’s revamped room finder (to locate a conference room for an in-person meeting – something we all hope will resume soon) as an example of the functionality which would turn up in Outlook desktop. With version 2103 (the current channel preview), Outlook desktop now uses OWA’s room finder. Figure 1 shows the room finder in OWA while Figure 2 shows it in Outlook desktop.
As you can see, it’s the same component, and sometimes when Outlook first loads the component, you see the OWA sign-in screen.
Looks Like a Win-Win Approach
The advantages of this approach to Microsoft are obvious: they can write a component once, deploy it in OWA to shake down any bugs, and then reuse the component in Outlook desktop. Apart from saving engineering effort to create code for multiple clients, it reduces the cost of ongoing sustaining engineering.
It’s good for customers too. Apart from experiencing the same feature behavior across the Outlook family, new features should appear faster. The Outlook desktop user interface as always been much slower to evolve than its web counterpart, largely because of the legacy of almost twenty-five years of development. With the new model, Outlook desktop can refresh its capabilities more rapidly. Of course, the proof will be seen as Outlook evolves, but at least the process is now moving.