Just in Time for Outlook
Microsoft Loop components have been available in Teams chat since November 2021. I haven’t heard about widespread usage, but that might be because people need time to adjust their collaboration habits. Access to Loop components in other applications is also a gating factor, but availability in OWA and Outlook for Windows (current channel preview) should help to address this concern. According to MC360766 (April 18, Microsoft 365 roadmap item 93234), Microsoft will roll out this feature to tenants configured for targeted release in early May.
So far, there’s no sign of Loops in Outlook, but I’m sure the components will arrive in my email any day now to deliver the same kind of functionality as available in Teams chat (Figure 1). In a nutshell, if an email contains a loop component, it exists as a file in the sender’s OneDrive for Business account that is shared with the email’s recipients. We’ll report more when the software is available.
This brings me to MC371268 (May 2), where Microsoft announces that “in response to customer feedback,” they’re retiring the existing settings to control the availability of Loop components and introducing a new control called IsLoopEnabled.
The control is part of the SharePoint Online tenant configuration and is set using the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet. You’ll need to upgrade the SharePoint Online management module to version 16.0.22413.12000 or later. Microsoft posted this version in the PowerShell Gallery five days ago. You can install or update the module from the PowerShell gallery or download an MSI file from Microsoft.
The replaced control is IsFluidEnabled, which enables the Fluid Framework within a tenant. Microsoft plans to retire the IsFluidEnabled setting on November 25, 2022. Going forward, the relevant settings in the SharePoint Online configuration are:
- IsLoopEnabled: Controls if Microsoft 365 apps like Teams and Outlook can use Loop components. The default is True (Enabled).
- IsWBFluidEnabled: Controls if Microsoft Whiteboard uses OneDrive for Business to store whiteboard files.
It’s slightly curious that a separate setting exists for Whiteboard, but Microsoft explains the situation as allowing organizations to control Loop components separately from Whiteboard’s transition to OneDrive for Business. Eventually, when the transition completes, it’s likely that Microsoft will deprecate the Whiteboard setting.
eDiscovery and Compliance Issues
Although eDiscovery searches can find Loop component files stored in OneDrive for Business, Microsoft acknowledges “limited eDiscovery workflow support.” With the additional of Loop support in Outlook, this aspect might become more problematic. For example, today, the preview feature for search results can render the full content of emails. This isn’t possible when an email contains a loop component because the preview window needs a software upgrade to fetch the content from OneDrive and display it inline within a message.
Another issue is with exports of search results. Today, Microsoft Purview can export emails (and the compliance records captured for Teams chats) found by searches as individual message files or in PST files. Microsoft says that the export format is “not consumable by existing tools,” and that they’re working on “an offline consumable export format.” Taken together, these statements make me think that the exported emails contain references (links) to OneDrive files that aren’t accessible to investigators working offline or independent experts who review eDiscovery results without access to the source tenant.
Making the content of search results available offline probably involves replacing the embedded link in messages containing Loop components with a static version of the content extracted from OneDrive.
This topic deserves a more comprehensive test, which I will get to once Outlook support for Loop components is available. In the meantime, organizations that don’t want to run into potential eDiscovery problems should strongly consider disabling Loop components for both Teams and Outlook by setting the IsLoopEnabled control to False.
Set-SPOTenant -IsLoopEnabled $False
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