Microsoft drop the ball with Outlook 2007
Well it looks as if Microsoft has screwed up royally with Outlook 2007, at least insofar as the way HTML emails are rendered. Instead of using the not-too-shabby Internet Explorer 7 rendering engine to display HTML emails, Microsoft opted to use a customized version of the Word 2007 rendering engine. That’s right, from now on your beautifully constructed HTML newsletters are going to be rendered by the crime against layout known as Microsoft Word. That fact alone was enough to send shivers down my spine, but when I dug a little deeper I discovered just how dire the situation really is.
Until now, Outlook has stood its ground as one of the better email clients when it comes to rendering HTML. Sure, there wasn’t perfect parity between Outlook and Internet Explorer, but it was close enough to make do. However, with the switch to the Word rendering engine Outlook has taken a leap back into the dark ages, and now ranks somewhere alongside Lotus Notes and Eudora in terms of its rendering capabilities.
Here are a few of the significant HTML and CSS goodies you’re going to have to kiss goodbye:
- Background images
Want a background image on that table cell or div? Forget about it friend, you have to make do with solid colors from now on.
Just when HTML email designers were tentatively proclaiming that CSS layouts were achievable, Microsoft have decided to rain on our parade.
Your recipients are just going to see a “red x” where the Flash movie would have been.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – you can see a complete list of the missing HTML/CSS elements, properties and attributes on the MSDN site.
None of these limitations is going to make the task of designing HTML emails impossible, but they will ensure that no advances are made in this field for a good number of years. Remember, it’s been four years since the last version of Outlook was released, so I’m going to guess it’ll be at least six years before Outlook 2007 drops off the edge of the map.
Microsoft are claiming that enhanced security is behind the decision, which seems odd considering how they keep harping on about how secure Internet Explorer 7 is compared to its predecessor. And as usual it’s the web designers – and consumers – who get shafted. Hopefully when Microsoft’s customer base realize how crappy their HTML newsletters now look, they will start consider alternative email clients such as Thunderbird. Maybe then Microsoft will realize how shortsighted they have been.
Joe Hardy has an excellent gripe about the situation, and details some of the specific problems you might encounter when designing HTML emails for Outlook 2007.
Straight from the horse’s mouth.