Outlook Format Documented, Released Under OSP

interoperability Microsoft is releasing documentation for the .pst file format – the format in which data is stored in Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders. As more and more information is stored and shared in digital formats, the ability for people to reuse their data across various applications and platforms has become increasing important.  Providing access to the documentation will facilitate interoperability, enabling customers and vendors to access their data in .pst files across a variety of platforms. 

You can already access the data stored in the .pst file, using Messaging API (MAPI) and the Outlook Object Model—a rich set of connections to all of the data stored by Outlook and Exchange Server—but only if Outlook is installed on the desktop.

The documentation effort will allow you to read, create, and interoperate with the data in .pst files in server and client scenarios using the programming language and platform of their choice. The technical documentation will detail how the data is stored, along with guidance for accessing that data from other software applications. It also will highlight the structure of the .pst file, provide details like how to navigate the folder hierarchy, and explain how to access the individual data objects and properties.

When it is complete, the documentation will be released under our Open Specification Promise, which will allow anyone to implement the .pst file format on any platform and in any tool, without concerns about patents, and without the need to contact Microsoft in any way.

Paul Lorimer, Group Manager, Microsoft Office Interoperability, made the announcement in a blog posting on the Microsoft Interoperabiliy blog in a posting, Roadmap for Outlook Personal Folders (.pst) Documentation. He writes, “This documentation is still in its early stages and work is ongoing. We are engaging directly with industry experts and interested customers to gather feedback on the quality of the technical documentation to ensure that it is clear and useful.”


Bruce D. Kyle
ISV Architect Evangelist | Microsoft Corporation

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