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Outlook for iOS/Android App Availability for Government

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Super Contributor

Any word on when Government tenants will be able to use the Outlook for iOS/Android mobile apps?

I have users that are disappointed with having to continue to use the poor OWA apps and want to go to the better app.

35 Replies
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I didn't realize that was a thing, why can't Government customers use the Outlook for iOS and Android app out of interest? The OWA app is practically abandonware, it must be a drag to still to have to use that!

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I don't know the why's, but we can't authenticate and the last time I asked (couple months ago) I was told it was because we are a Government tenant.

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The U.S, government (and associated bodies) use what Microsoft call a "soverign cloud" (the datacenter regions in Germany and China are similar). In these environments, software must meet specific security and other requirements before it is available for general use. Obviously, there is still some work to be done to make sure that the infrastructure used by the Outlook apps complies with those requirements.

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I've told my users that, but they are not at all sympathetic and are pratically ready to mutiny if they have to continue to use the OWA app much longer.

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Thanks for the explanation, that's taking a long time (since moving the infrastructure to the Microsoft Cloud in Sep 2016), but as has been explained it will take as long as it takes.  In fairness, in the service description it says for Outlook for iOS and Android  "Not yet available for Office 365 US Government Community or Office 365 US Government Defense but coming soon".  Hopefully, by Ignite this will be announced.

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@Cian Allner wrote:

In fairness, in the service description it says for Outlook for iOS and Android  "Not yet available for Office 365 US Government Community or Office 365 US Government Defense but coming soon".


Don't be suprised if I don't see much "fairness."

That's the only place I've ever seen it spelled out. Even the Tech Support people didn't know that Government tenants aren't supported by the apps. I wasted over a week on that very question back in June.

Now my users are asking why are we still using an app that hasn't been updated in almost 2 years. I just have to tell them "it's Microsoft" . . . they aren't very satisfied with that answer.

 

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I do understand, I wouldn't be terribly impressed in those circumstances either.

 

I do think this is an example of where Office 365 change management falls down.  As customers, we should be better informed, especially about something like this that takes so long to deliver. We need to be able to go back to our user base and have a timeframe at least, rather being completely open ended.  

This is on the roadmap of sorts, I think, under the Outlook for iOS and Android backend update item that is still classified as rolling out.  

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Not speaking for Microsoft, but it could be that:

a) there were some security concerns expressed about the Outlook apps in the past.
b) Microsoft has redone the infrastructure to address the issues.
c) It takes time to check mobile apps and the underlying infrastructure against security requirements... especially when an app is updated weekly (as in the case of Outlook)

All of which might lead to an extended qualification period. Most government bodies tend to be pretty cautious about mobile devices, which is one reason why BlackBerry has persisted so long...
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There is a reason for the confusion around this.  Some already touched on in this thread.  MS does not have consistent messaging nor consistent behavior. 

 

The service description states the app is not supported.  It does not say it can't work, just not supported.  That also means of course it has not been certified to meet the various compliance requirements of the services and applications running from the GCC.  My assumption here is that is because of the Azure piece, that most likely only runs from the commercial Azure datacenters.  

 

The FAQ for Outlook app ( https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt465746(v=exchg.150).aspx ) - there is an entry on using with Government Subscriptions, near the top of the list in fact.  The only limitation states that accounts you add to it must be in the same region. Which is odd - since GCC datacenters are only in the US (as far as I'm aware).

 

Behavior seems to be inconsistent.  I can confirm that in some cases Government Subscription users can use the Outlook app with no issues.  I know of multiple instances where it's used with no problems.  But I've seen various reports like this thread where some users can't use it at all.  Where it does work, you have to keep in mind the official position as stated in the service description. 

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I can setup an Office 365 Government Exchange account with no issue in many of the email apps on either iOS or Android. What makes Outlook for iOS/Android so special that as a government tenant it refuses?

The other apps authenticate to the same servers that Outlook for iOS/Android do. The other apps access the same calendar, mailbox, contacts, etc. that Outlook for iOS/Android do.

Sorry, but I find all the endlessly regurgitated excuses ridiculous. Even my users are seeing through the smoke screens put out by Microsoft and agree that is a ridiculous situation where we can't use any Microsoft authored mail apps on our mobile devices to attach to our government tenants.

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It's the same reason why Teams is not available for the U.S. Government sovereign cloud: not all of the necessary components (in this case, some Azure components) are available in that cloud, so any application that depends on those components is unavailable.

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I called about this over the last week...there response in this link (close to the bottom)
Not supported yet.
https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt774581.aspx
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I'm sorry that I didn't see this thread sooner and can share some insight. I think a few folks have hit the most important topics already.

 

  • Outlook for iOS and Android was an acquisition by Microsoft (Accompli)
  • Last summer, the app was re-architected to run in Azure
  • User content (email, attachments) is cached outside the FedRAMP and CJIS boundary
  • Office 365 US Gov is predicated on compliance commitments, so any Microsoft first-party products that are part of Office 365 subscriptions but don't meet our compliance commitments are disabled

So this explains why Outlook Mobile does not connect to GCC tenants. There is good feedback in this thread that the US Gov documentation may reflect this, but support teams and Outlook general documentation may need to be clarified.

 

Within the next few months, Outlook Mobile will become compliant with our GCC commitments (this should be on roadmap.office.com), and we will remove the block. In the meantime, if you have a Microsoft account team, reach out and let them know you're interested.

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Out of curiosity, those people using the Outlook app and have a Government Subscription to Office 365, do their emails end in .gov?
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Where is this on the roadmap?
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Hi Shane, there are many government agencies (with .gov domains) that assessed the security and compliance stance of Outlook for iOS and Android and determined that it meets their requirements. So, yes, some of the people have emails that end in .gov.
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The Outlook Mobile backend services were audited in October and we've recently received the Security Assessment Report. Our engineering team is working through some final validations and documentation, and our commitment is to have the Outlook app enabled like normal no later than the end of March.
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It looks like this is going to slip past March.  Any insight on when Outlook for iOS and Android will be available?

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Game on!

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt846641(v=exchg.150).aspx

 

Outlook for iOS and Android is fully architected in the Microsoft Cloud and now includes a solution that routes data through Azure Government Community data centers (the Azure Government Community Cloud). This solution is FedRAMP-compliant and approved, which means the Outlook for iOS and Android architecture and underlying translation protocol service now meet the data-handling requirements for GCC tenants

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Sigh . . . still no go with the latest Outlook for Android app in the Play Store.

After waiting so long we finally told our users to just use the built in apps on their mobile devices.

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The linked article has details on how to enable GCC compliance for organizations that have either already deployed outlook or will deploy it. 

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Yes, read the article. We have no restrictions for apps in our Tenant. So according to article I should just be able to download the app and go.

"Users with devices that are not enrolled in an MDM solution can search for "Microsoft Outlook" in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and download it from one of those locations."

Did a fresh download of the app out of the Android Play Store and am not prompted to restrict app for GCC use. The app in the store says last updated 3/29/18.

  1. Open Outlook on the Android device.

  2. On the initial screen, tap to select Restrict app to GCC mode.

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I think Microsoft is still rolling out the new Outlook versions that support the new GCC Mode.

 

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Outlook-Blog/The-Outlook-for-iOS-and-Android-architecture-is-...

 

Q:  When will GCC users be able to set up "GCC Mode" in Outlook on their mobile device?

A:  The Outlook for iOS and Android app that supports the new architecture is rolling out in the iTunes app store and the Google Play store this week.

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Why am I not surprised. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

I think I'll give it a few weeks and try again.

Thanks for the info everyone.

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Successfully worked for me on iPhone! Glad to have the outlook app back!

Now let me go tell 5,000+ users to flip a switch because Microsoft didn't write an if statement.

Any news on when 2 accounts will be supported? We have multiple users who use a primary account and a shared mailbox. They need to see them both.
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Hmm..the version prior to the March 29th update I could see the GCC option, after update it's gone.
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Downloaded the app today and of course during initial setup it didn't ask about GCC until the very end of entering information in. Why not have that be part of the initial opening screen?

Then app quit, which it said it would. It took 1/2 dozen tries to re-open the app until it opened without crashing. Finished setting up and now in the app. Going to see how it goes for a week or two as I'm not confident this is the app I want my users to have to use until some of those initial flubs with setting up GCC get rectified. From a usability standpoint, very poor indeed.

 

Update: Had co-worker install it and while he is using app it crashes. Then when reopened it wants his credentials again. He also said the whole GCC slider was rather convoluted too.

Not a very auspicious start.

 

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We just started installing today.  One issue though - the mail notifications on ios are not showing the message detail, just "You've got mail".  Anyone else seeing this or have it working?

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yeah we are seeing the same thing as well, regardless of iOS settings.
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Android is the same.

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Thanks. Read right over that....Should be an option....sometimes MS really overthinks things.
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Sigh, and yet calendar items come across in plain text in notifications on the phone with no obfuscation. So what exactly are they trying to hide?

As it stands I won't be telling my users to use this app any time soon.

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Same here.  I have escalated this with our Microsoft rep and he is going to try to find out some answers as to why this is and what their plan is.  I will share if I find anything out.

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