[Update]: This article was first published on June 4, 2020. It was updated due to changes concerning Outlook roaming signatures feature development and release.
After a long battle, Microsoft rolled out a new feature for Outlook for Windows called roaming signatures (or signature cloud settings). The new feature changes the way Outlook email signatures are stored. Instead of storing them on a local drive (ironically, in roaming user profiles), signatures are moved to the cloud (and tied with a user’s account), which makes them available on all devices running Outlook for Windows that are configured with this user’s email account. As there is a lot of inaccurate information regarding the feature, let’s explain what this feature really is, when to expect it (if you still don’t have it), and whether it affects CodeTwo solutions at all.
Roaming signatures release timeline
The feature was first added to Microsoft 365 roadmap in early 2020 (roadmap item 60371 – Outlook for Windows: Signature cloud settings). Its shipment was expected still in 2020, but the release date has been moved several times. Starting October 2022, the feature has finally started rolling out gradually.
The date is not the only thing that changed in the development plans. At first, roaming signatures were supposed to be available for everyone. Later on, their Global Availability phase was planned for the Current Channel only. Now, after the rollout, it turns out that the feature is added to the more stable Monthly Enterprise Channel and will be introduced to other channels gradually as well.
For those users who get the chance to use the feature, here’s a quick description of how it works:
Roaming signatures for Outlook: short description
Moving signature settings from a local drive to user’s mailbox is a good change. Thanks to that, if you are using your Outlook on multiple computers, you don’t have to set up a signature separately on every single endpoint.
Along with the new functionality, Microsoft prepared a rudimentary email signature gallery with simple templates for users to pick and customize with their company logo, photo, website and social profiles. Once the feature has been rolled out to a user, the gallery can be accessed from within their Outlook client (from the Signatures and Stationery settings) or directly from this link.
However, Microsoft’s declaration that Outlook signatures can consistently display your brand and contact information might be a bit of an overstatement. Out of the box, users still need to download, choose, modify and import signatures into their Outlook apps by themselves. This can lead to inconsistencies, typos and other discrepancies. Not to mention the fact that the email signature gallery is just a Word document, and the examples stored there might not be displayed correctly in email clients other than Outlook.
Moreover, if you take a closer look at the roadmap item in question, further limitations become apparent. At first, Microsoft communicated that roaming signatures were reserved for Outlook for Windows only. In other words, it means that you would benefit from the changes only if you, for example, occasionally use Outlook for Windows on another PC. When you use Outlook on a Mac or a mobile device, signature settings will still be separate.
It turns out though that’s not the whole story. The “cloud signatures” do affect Outlook on the web as well. The side-effect is that some previously unknown problems with email signatures have emerged, like disappearing signatures. That’s why many companies choose not to use roaming signatures at all. See how to disable roaming signatures in Windows registry
Also, as long as you have roaming signatures enabled for your organization, it’s impossible to use PowerShell to set up HTML email signatures for user mailboxes. Disabling roaming signatures locally via registry doesn’t help here. The only way to solve this is via support ticket with Microsoft.
It’s hard to predict how the feature will evolve, but at the moment there’s much to work on.
There has been some information that roaming signatures might affect or even break email signature add-ins. Let’s take a look at how the feature might affect third-party tools like ours.
Impact of Outlook roaming signatures on CodeTwo software
In a Message center announcement and an email sent to Microsoft 365 clients, Microsoft mentioned that roaming signatures will affect third-party COM add-ins for Outlook. According to the message, these add-ins will no longer work when this feature is released unless admins modify the registry for users in their organization as per this article. The similar information is spread throughout many different sources and articles as well. Because of that, we would like to clarify that the new feature from Microsoft:
- will not “break” CodeTwo tools or substitute them in any way – it just saves Outlook signatures in the cloud, like Outlook on the web (OWA) did for years. That way, these signatures are automatically accessible on other Windows-based PCs for a given user once they use Outlook hooked up to the same Microsoft account;
- does not introduce central management of signatures, AD integration, dynamic signatures, signature campaigns and other features you already get from CodeTwo;
- does not work with mobile devices and other email clients – it’s limited to Outlook for Windows and Outlook on the web at the moment;
- does not require you to take any action* for your organization no matter which signature mode and CodeTwo Outlook add-in you use with CodeTwo Email Signatures 365:
- the modern CodeTwo Signatures Web Add-in for Outlook is not a COM Add-in, so it will continue to work and add client-side signatures even when roaming signatures feature is enabled;
- the legacy CodeTwo Signatures Add-in for Outlook is a COM Add-in, but it will also work properly. All versions of this add-in released since June 17, 2020 automatically make the necessary change in the registry for all users who use the COM Add-in. The add-in is updated automatically* for these users (they might be prompted to restart Outlook after the update).
* Only the admins who deployed the legacy COM add-in globally via GPO before June 17, 2020 will need to redeploy it to make sure all users get the latest version of the add-in (instructions on how to do this can be found in the user’s manual). But it’s much better idea to switch to the modern add-in instead.
Comparison of Outlook roaming signatures and CodeTwo Email Signatures 365
As mentioned above, the new feature for Outlook changes nothing for companies that use third-party email signature tools such as CodeTwo Email Signatures 365, because these tools address completely different problems. See a short video that highlights all the distinguishing features of CodeTwo’s cloud signatures and take a look at the table below to compare native signature cloud settings in Outlook with CodeTwo’s email signature solution.
|CodeTwo Email Signatures 365||Native signature cloud settings in Microsoft Outlook|
|Central email signature management for the entire company or selected groups of users|
Support for all email clients and devices (including mobiles)
Setting up different signatures for internal and external emails
Signatures inserted automatically based on rules
|Email signatures in encrypted messages|
Azure Active Directory synchronization (user info automatically added to signatures)
|Scheduling email signature campaigns|
|Delegation of email signature design and management to specific people or teams|
|Unified visual identity across the entire company|
|Automatic conversion of plain text emails to the HTML format (signatures in emails sent by mobile devices look the same as those sent from PCs)|
|Signature editing blocked for all/selected users|
|One-click customer satisfaction surveys in email signatures|
|Signatures added/removed by specific keywords in the email body|
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the new feature and its impact on CodeTwo software that you use, feel free to contact us.