Don’t Limit Yourself to Microsoft 365 Desktop Apps, like Outlook!

road sign, attention, right of way

Yesterday, May 11, 2021, Microsoft had a service incident that resulted in Outlook having an issue where the body of the email was cut off in the preview pane and when opening the full message. The problem stemmed from the most recent Office update. The incident did not impact all Microsoft 365 customers or users.

[Note: The incident only affected the Outlook desktop app. The issue has since been resolved.]

As we had some customers report the issue to us, it made me think that users have become too dependent on the Office desktop applications. They are a great tool and convenient to use throughout your workday, and honestly, I have found myself reliant on them too. When things stop working as they should, just like everyone else, I get frustrated and start thinking about how I will get this email out, get this document finished, etc.

Oh, and yelling profanities towards Microsoft.

As I investigated the issue, a few things came to mind.

Where to Go to Check the Status of Microsoft 365

As IT admins or professionals, we forget that average users cannot see the Service Health in the admin center and do not get the service health emails. 

Most users do not know about the Microsoft 365 Status page, where anyone can see current service incidents. The site is, however, limited and will only show active incidents.

The average user also does not follow “Microsoft 365 Status” on Twitter, an excellent resource for up-to-date information on service incidents.

The Reaction on Twitter and My Thoughts

As I read through the Twitter conversation about the service incident, I was utterly taken back by the comments people were making about Outlook not working:

“How am I going to get to my Zoom meeting if I can’t click the meeting link?” 

“How am I supposed to respond to my emails if I can’t read them?” 

And there were plenty more from people wondering out loud how they would get their work done.

I instantly thought how quickly users forget that they can access their Microsoft 365 email online from any browser.

Hello, Outlook on the web or OWA (Outlook Web App).

I read through more comments and was happy to finally see a lone reply that said, “Did you forget about OWA…?”

Remember the Microsoft 365 Web Apps!

Users have become so dependent on the Office desktop apps that they have entirely forgotten about the entire online experience of Microsoft 365. In some cases, they cannot even recall how to sign in online to their account. 

When I remind users of this, I usually get two responses:

  1. “I totally forgot about that.” 
  2. “I don’t like the online experience.” 

And most times, with response #1, “How do I sign in again online?”

Response #2 troubles me the most, though.

So, you know about Outlook Online, but have chosen not to use it because you don’t like it…?

Everything you can do in the Office desktop apps can be done in the Web Apps.

Well, almost… Except for some advanced functions, but does that really matter at the time when something is broken in the desktop app, and you are just trying to get out some emails or wrap up documents?

Probably not.

When Things Go Wrong, Keep a Level Head!

Users panic too quickly when the desktop apps falter, and because of the frustration, they easily forget about the online apps. Again, reading through the Twitter conversation, I saw many people act too impulsively, and in doing so, they did not read the service incident thoroughly. People immediately tried to uninstall Office and tested all these crazy troubleshooting steps that did nothing but waste their time.

Of course, this irritated them more and sometimes led to funny, offensive replies, but why did the users not reach out to their IT admins or professionals?

While many felt confident Microsoft would resolve the issue, I saw many replies from IT admins and professionals complaining about the update or the management of the update. And most were incorrect with their statements or biased based strictly on their dislike of Microsoft in general.

As an IT admin and professional, I found those replies maddening. If you are a true Microsoft 365 admin, you should know what controls and management capabilities are in place for Office desktop apps.

Shame on you!

The Moral of the Story

I guess the moral of the story is do not forget about the other options Microsoft 365 has to offer. Just because you may not care for the online experience, nothing is stopping you from getting your work done.

Only you are stopping yourself.

Click here to log in to your Microsoft 365 account on any browser to access all the Web Apps.