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Detect if @mentions feature is available in Outlook or Outlook install method RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    I'm trying to find the best way to detect if the new @mentions feature is available in Outlook. I've previously asked a similar question on these forums and the solution given was to just check the version number of Outlook and base it off that. 

    You can see my previous thread here https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/2eb5202d-9ce3-48ab-a501-2f20f2aa5d05/disable-or-hook-into-new-mentions-feature-in-outlook-2016-insider-builds?forum=outlookdev

    Unfortunately I've now found that checking the version number is not enough. I have versions of Outlook 2016 newer than the one where @mentions was introduced and have found that the @mention feature is not active. I believe the difference is due to how Outlook was installed (either via Office 365 or from a cd / iso / regular installer). I'm guessing @mentions is only available for Office 365 subscribers (but not only Office 365 accounts/profiles, I've checked other account types).

    How can I reliably determine if the user has the @mention feature available? Or at least how can I tell which method was used to install Outlook so I can use that as a basis for my check?

    Thanks,

    Ben

    Monday, October 31, 2016 5:33 AM

All replies

  • Hello Ben,

    As far as I read the blog for upcoming features, the @mentions currently work of the type of the recipient and nothing to do with installation. Over there is more on the topic: Outlook helps you focus on what matters to you

    And this is the quote:

    "Q. What email accounts will @mentions work for?

    A. The sender features of @mentions will be available to all—regardless of the type of mailbox or email service you are using in Outlook. The recipient features of @mentions (message list improvements, blue highlighting in reading pane) are only available for recipients using Outlook with Office 365 or the new Outlook.com accounts. We will add support for the recipient features of @mentions in Outlook when connected to other emails account (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo) later this year."


    Slava Ivanov

    Monday, October 31, 2016 2:56 PM
  • Hi,

    I agree with Slava. This new feature is available for new version and it is not related to O365 subscription.

    In the blog:Outlook helps you focus on what matters to you, it mentions:

    Q. When will I see the Focused Inbox feature in my version of Outlook?

    A. Focused Inbox was first released on Outlook for iOS and Android. All versions of Outlook that receive feature updates will soon become Focused Inbox capable, including the subscription versions of Outlook 2016 for Windows and Mac as well as Outlook on the web and Windows 10. Users will begin seeing the feature turn on once their Office 365 or Outlook.com mailbox is enabled for Focused Inbox. Mailboxes on the new Outlook.com will begin becoming Focused Inbox enabled this week and will continue over the coming months. Office 365 users in the First Release program will become Focused Inbox enabled in late October. Regular Office 365 mailboxes will follow in November, after First Release availability.

     

    Besides, I test in a higher version(Insider version). The feature is also available in 16.0.7426.1009

    So I think the feature would be available after 16.0.7369.2038.

    Regards,

    Celeste


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    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 5:22 AM
    Moderator
  • Hello Slava and Celeste,

    Celeste just to remove any confusion the feature I am talking about is @mention and not the Focused Inbox. Both features are mentioned in the blog post that Slava linked to but it is only @mention I am interested in.

    I've spent the day investigating this further and I am 100% convinced it is related to the way Office/Outlook is activated.

    Here is a sample sequence of events to demonstrate.

    Stage one. Test a retail copy.

    1. Install a retail copy of Office 2016 and activate it using the license key included (in my case it was from an iso obtained from MSDN with a BizSpark retail license key).

    2. Start Outlook and install all updates by clicking File -> Office Account -> Update Options -> Update Now

      **** After updating the version of Outlook will be Current Channel 1609 (Build 7369.2038). This is newer than the version that lists @mention as a new feature (Version 1609 (Build 7369.2024)). This information can be found at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/office/mt465751 making sure to filter by Current Channel

    3. Create a new mail and type @. At this point the @mention feature should pop up and allow you to select from your contacts but it wont.

    Stage two. Deactivate the retail key and reactivate against Office 365.

    1. Open a command prompt with administrative privileges

    2. Run the following command

    > cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus

    3. Look for the line "Last 5 characters of installed product key" and copy the value

    4. Run the following command where xxxxx is the last 5 characters of the license key from the last step

    > cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /unpkey:xxxxx

    5. Start Outlook. When it asks you to enter the license key choose the option to "Sign in with an active account instead" then follow the prompts

    6. Go to File -> Office Account. In my case I found that "Office Updates" was highlighted. I also had a separate notification pop up to say that updates were available for Office. Install the updates and check this screen again, the version number will be the same as before the update.

    7. Restart Outlook. Create a new mail and type @. The @mention feature will pop up as expected.

    Stage three, confirm that a retail license key won't have the @mention feature.

    1. In File -> Office Account click the "Manage Account" button

    2. This will take you the Office account web page and ask you to log in using your Office account details you used to activate Office earlier. 

    3. Click your name at the top right corner of the page and click "View Account"

    4. Click the "Install status" option on the left side bar.

    5. Find the computer you just activated and click "Deactivate" and choose "Yes"

    7. Close Outlook. Open an Administrator command prompt and run the following script

    > cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /rearm

    6. Follow steps 1 to 4 from stage two to uninstall the product key from Office.

    7. Start Outlook, you will be asked to Activate. Choose the option to "Enter a product key instead"

    8. Create a new mail and type @. At this point the @mention feature should pop up and allow you to select from your contacts as in stage two, but now the option is gone. 

    There is nothing on the previously mentioned blog page or this page that describes the @mention feature https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Use-mentions-to-get-someone-s-attention-90701709-5dc1-41c7-aa48-b01d4a46e8c7?ui=en-US&rs=en-GB&ad=GB that suggests that it is only available in installs licensed through Office 365.

    This brings me back to my original problem. The add-in product my company has been working on has had a very similar feature for the past year which is conflicting with Microsoft's @mention solution. I had previously taken the advice to check the Outlook version to base whether our @mention feature should be active or not but clearly it isn't as simple as that.

    Can you provide some clarity under what circumstances the @mention feature should be active in Outlook 2016 and how I can check for that in a c# COM add-in?

    Thanks,

    Ben

    • Proposed as answer by catxing Tuesday, September 19, 2017 8:52 AM
    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 7:18 AM
  • Hi,

    In my opinion, O365 users are the first customers to receive and experience new features.

    There is no method or property provided by Office to check if there are any specific feature active or if  it is Office 365 subscription.

     

    >>Can you provide some clarity under what circumstances the @mention feature should be active in Outlook 2016?

    Since the issue is about Office Product, I suggest you post in the following forum.

    https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/office/en-US/home?forum=outlook

    Thanks for your understanding.

    Regards,

    Celeste


    MSDN Community Support
    Please remember to click "Mark as Answer" the responses that resolved your issue, and to click "Unmark as Answer" if not. This can be beneficial to other community members reading this thread. If you have any compliments or complaints to MSDN Support, feel free to contact MSDNFSF@microsoft.com.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 12:29 PM
    Moderator