The truth behind the Outlook 2007 change and what you can do about it

When I posted about Microsoft's decision to use Word instead of Internet Explorer to render HTML emails in Outlook 2007, I certainly didn't expect the storm of controversy and (sometimes) constructive discussion that eventuated. The post has already breached 300 comments and made the front page of Digg, Del.icio.us and Techmeme within a few hours. Heck, we even managed to land the number five spot on Alexa's fasting moving sites on the web. This is clearly a topic many of you are passionate about.

So why did Microsoft make this change?

In my post, I chanced a guess at Microsoft's motivations for this change:

By default Outlook uses the Word engine to create HTML emails, which it's done for years now. Perhaps Microsoft figured that in order to keep the look and feel of emails consistent between Outlook users they'd display emails using the same engine that created them.

As diplomatically explained by Molly Holzschlag, it turns out that this is exactly why Microsoft made the change. It has nothing to do with security or the remnants of an anti-trust decision. I'm not going to harp on about what I think about this decision - I can certainly understand Microsoft's motivation for making the change. It's been made, and the best thing for us to do now is deal with it and use our frustration to constructively encourage Microsoft to resolve the existing issues with the Word rendering engine.

What can you do?

Molly is currently working closely with Microsoft as part of the Microsoft/WaSP Task Force and points out this refreshing fact - Microsoft is prepared to listen.

Please comment as to your experiences and include any links to problem cases. I promise to make sure the top priorities and concerns get in front of the right eyes. Microsoft was very clear in letting me know that if we want a feature and need it and get an organized list to them, those issues will be addressed and prioritized as the new engine develops in response to developer needs, too.

As email designers, all we have to do is provide examples of our older CSS based designs that are now breaking in Outlook 2007. The obvious challenge there is that most of us don't have a copy yet (it's being released publicly next month), so these reports may take some time to trickle through.

At any rate, I encourage anyone who has noticed any discrepancies in their email designs using a pre-release version of Outlook 2007 to chime in on Molly's post with the URL of your email and a short explanation of what's breaking. If you don't have a copy yet, you can also test Outlook 2007 support using SiteVista, which we reviewed recently.

Posted by David Greiner

102 Comments

  • Chris Harrison
    22nd January

    I think this irritates me more, to be honest with you. The fact that Microsoft conciously made this decision to improve messages sent from one Outlook user to another Outlook user is a cop-out.

    Yes, I realize that a lot of businesses use Exchange Server, so this change will apply to them… but what about those of us that don’t use Exchange Server? What about those of us that email users on other platforms? What about those of us that don’t use POP accounts, and only strictly use webmail accounts?

    To me, this just escalated beyond just being a major concern for legitimate email marketers to a full-scale war on interoperability with other email clients/systems. By making this choice, Microsoft is making it very clear: use our product, or your email will be screwed up.

    It’s good they are willing to listen, but it’s like they completely ignored any of the feedback they received on Internet Explorer… My only hope at this point, is that 1) Microsoft adopts a “quirky” mode to allow for standards-based email; or 2) let users decide which rendering engine to use…

  • Molly E. Holzschlag
    24th January

    Just for the record, I think what’s shifting at Microsoft from a business perspective is that they are beginning to realize that developers are a huge portion of their customer base, not just a bunch of “lets get rich quick” devils selling low-quality useless web-related services.

    The developer-as-customer issue is our ace in the hole with MS, because when the customer speaks, they do listen. They have to now. We have a lot of say as to what gets sold to the customers we represent, and as many readers know, that can mean anywhere between 1 and millions of people involved in a given web-related technical environment. So, one developer-as-customer truly has clout these days.

    I’m now working directly with Microsoft, and I can honestly say that their software developers by and large get it completely. They aren’t our problem, and never really have been.

    It’s the business decisions that drive the technology decisions. Whenever we run into a problem with MS, we must, at least as long as this paradigm is in effect, address the business end to get the ultimate results we need to work in as interoperable fashion as we can.

  • Microsoftie
    25th January

    I’d also like to point out a few things that most people outside of Microsoft don’t understand.  Microsoft is basically nothing more than a bunch of small companies all operating under one roof.  Each product has it’s own team with it’s own sub-culture and unique way of doing things.  What works for one team doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another.  With that being said, as one team is building their product, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are building every component with the idea that it will tie into every other product, and it doesn’t mean that because all these teams work under the name “Microsoft” they are all aware of what every division and every group within the company is doing.  It’s just too much information for even Bill Gates to keep track of.  The sheer scale and size of this company and it’s operations are absolutely mind blowing.

    Molly is absolutely right about the fact that everything is driven by a business need.  There is literally a “cost” to everything we do within an application.  Teams even have to pay for and license technologies that other groups have built, and they are all in the same company!  The developers, designers and program managers creating these products are extremely talented and brilliant people, but keep in mind that they have their hands tied when it comes to certain decisions which are made by upper management.  But make no bones about it, if you make enough noise about something you don’t like, Microsoft WILL listen and it will fix whatever is broken.

    Microsoft as a company isn’t the problem, it’s “management” that is usually the problem.  The people making the products are every bit as frustrated as you are when something doesn’t work right, and they are the first to criticize when something is just plain stupid. 

    Please don’t be so fast to criticize Microsoft and just remember that bitching about something doesn’t help anyone, suggestions and ideas are what drives improvement and innovation.  If you have something to say, blog it, post it, email it or just contact someone within Microsoft and they will point you in the right direction to seek resolution.  It’s not a dictatorship like Apple, people actually listen to their customers at Microsoft.

    And that’s all I have to say about that…  :)

  • Dave Greiner
    25th January

    Microsoftie, thanks so much for the thoughtful response, that insight is much appreciated. We’re in the process of putting together a number of recommendations for the Outlook and Windows Live Mail teams and will be sure to post it here soon, as well as forward it on to the respective teams within Microsoft.

  • leggo-my-eggo
    26th January

    Microsoftie,

    I hear what you’re saying, but the developer community has been talking loudly for many years about how Microsoft’s consitant refusal to support standards is harming the Internet and our livelihood, and yet we continue to see this kind of decision.

    If managment is driving the decision-making process, then management effectively IS Microsoft. It matters little how completely Microsoft developers understand the problem if the end result is monopolistic rejection of web standards.

    The suggestion is simply this: Microsoft should embrace prevalent web standards. It really is that simple. Because the majority of the efforts that Microsoft makes at controlling and driving web technologies make life more difficult for everyone.

    Microsoft is not a good citizen, largely because the company doesn’t see itself as a citizen, it sees itself as the king. I’m not talking about individuals, I’m talking about the company as an entity. I know many Microsoft employees, and they all are very good citizens, but the company is not.

    Contrast Microsoft’s contributions to the web with Google’s and you’ll have a good idea what I’m writing about.

  • Mike L
    26th January

    I hadn’t noticed the HTML problems with Outlook 2007 until recently.  I’m not fond of this problem, but (for me!) it’s not a major issue.  Clearly the problem with newsletters not displaying properly needs to be resolved.  A couple thoughts…  The beta had a ‘report rendering problem’ button which I do not see in the RTM version; perhaps MS could provide a way to put this back?  Until these issues are resolved, there are 2 bandaid fixes I can think of.  I get HTML emails with a ‘display in browser’ link at the top - I’ve never really paid attention if this links to a live webpage or a copy of the HTML in the email.  Outlook also has this feature (view in browser) available under ‘other actions’.  Neither solution is perfect but does provide a workaround.

    Regarding Office 2007 in general - for me it’s 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  There are more things I like about it then dislike, but I’ve definitely got some serious problems with it.

  • Scott R
    26th January

    Having not had an opportunity to play with office 2k7 yet, I cannot say that I know how this will affect what I do where I work. 

    I can, with certainty, say that if Microsoft does not get its act together people will just not upgrade to their newer software.  Business have been stuck with Office 2000/2002/2003 for for years now, the same with Windows.  If they do not listen to their customer wants, many companies will hold off upgrading to their newest version of their Cash Cows. And of course, after those cows start getting hungry, they are going to listen to what the farmer (market) says that they want.

    It may be slow, but eventually they will get hungry. Then they will really start listening.

  • Bou Te
    26th January

    Here’s a tip for Microsoft.  I’m a relative n00b in the whole web publishing business with only a few years of self-taught stuff in my free time.  I’ve been looking to upgrade to Outlook for a) an email client so I can avoid having to use free clients like Gmail/Hotmail/YahooMail etc. and b) so that I can use it as a PIM.

    At this point, Microsoft will get zero dollars from me until Outlook supports CSS which I’ve spent the better part of 100 hours teaching myself to use.  It’s good.  It’s STANDARD, by all means Microsoft, please support it.

    I’m one person, but there are several people that I know that make their buying decisions based on my recommendations.  Granted, 10 or 20 people not buying Outlook won’t cause the behemoth to blink an eye, and yet I’m certain that there are countless others like me who won’t bother to say a word.

    Microsoft - please support standards.  I’ll pay to use your stuff if it’s good, instead of using the free stuff that I do now.

  • Purple Person
    27th January

    Microsoft will have to change eventually when they no longer dominate to the extent that they do and this day will come eventually or when they realise that standards compliance is in fact the most sensible commercial position to take.  In the meantime perhaps Chris Harrison’s idea is the best short term solution that they could introduce -

    1) Microsoft adopts a “quirky” mode to allow for standards-based email; or 2) let users decide which rendering engine to use…

  • Russ B
    27th January

    For those of you who know individuals at Microsoft, I would like to understand the business advantage to NOT adopting standards. Is it because Microsoft isn’t capable of differentiating their products with features instead of format? By adopting full support of standards across their product line, do they no longer have a point of differentiation? Because they own the market share, they can and have effectively set the “standards”.
    I agree with leggo that if Microsoft management is driving the strategy and developers within business units are not empowered to influence poor business decisions, then they have a problem.
    Quite simply, my constructive request is to quit moving the target and adopt the standards. Quit changing the rules of the game because you can. Focus your product development efforts on security, quality, and useful features.

  • Colin M
    27th January

    To be honest I don’t think this will make much difference to the way we design HTML emails. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m very disappointed that MS haven’t taken the opportunity to improve compliance and accessibility in Outlook but at the same time I’m not surprised (I tend to be more surprised when they actually pro-actively adopt standards!).  Not being able to use background images is regressive and will be pain, but it’s not the end of the world… the message should still get through.

    Problems with rendering HTML emails exist outwith Outlook, and so to get an email to look good in all webmail systems the safest way is still to use the old methods of tables and inline styles. 

    GMail will strip all content within your style section.  This I find pretty ludicrous.
    Hotmail strips out CSS styles unless they’re within the BODY tag, and even then doesn’t render padding properly anyway.
    Outlook Webmail has a lovely habit of rewriting your HTML with Word-engine styles, but if you happen to use Firefox it’ll REALLY mash it up and remove all style attributes.

    Anyone who’s ever tried to forward an HTML email from Outlook to anywhere else knows what it does to designs. Continuing this kind of behaviour/strategy will only send more and more users toward Thunderbird.

    So, nothing changes that much.  It should, but it won’t for now.


  • 27th January

    Microsoft has clearly learned from decades of competition with Apple that there is no profit in unambiguity. Why not leverage a dominating market share and take control over “what is yours”? Problem is, Apple does it with style, promoting uniqueness while at the same time embracing prospering standards.

    With all the flare of rich internet applications, I figured it was only a matter of time before a secure email based application was completely feasable. So much for that idea. I will however be very impressed if any of our comments create any kind of change. The only way to make a statement is to not use the software at all and that is simply not possible.

  • Yani
    30th January

    Open Office and Thunderbird are looking better by the day. No protest is ever more effective than voting with the feet!

    Who would have thought MS was such a supporter of the Open Source community? Already they have given Firefox a get leg up with IE7 half arsed compliance.

    Clearly all the focus on Outlook development is on what MS server products they can link it to. Clearly nothing much else is seen as important.

    Great opportunity for professionals to make a $ from installing ‘free’ software and saving clients money in the process.

    3 cheers for MS!

    Yani

  • Sarah C
    31st January

    ‘It’s not a dictatorship like Apple’ - hmmm…but if you were using an Apple you’d be a lot less likely to be troubled by this problem!

    Tired old MS vs A retorts aside, this is bad news as I’m a new user less than a year in to my ‘Campaign Monitoring’ and starting to really get into the swing of creative HTML emails. I can’t believe I’ve now got to tone that down and retro-scale to make sure the PC users I’m sending to can read my mails.

    Oh the confusion. I’m going to be studying this post carefully.

    In the meantime I can’t recommend the Mozilla products highly enough - Thunderbird, Firefox. Slinging out the old software appears the only immediate solution - but that’s not so easy is it in reality?

  • Zim
    31st January

    As noted in some of the first posts on this thread, the key to this mess is a desire by MS to make their client (Outlook) more closely operate with their server (Exchange).  The difficulty, of course, comes in 2 aspects:

    1. users of Exchange-based email do not send and receive only from other Exchange users
    2. users of Outlook do not only send and receive to Exchange servers

    None of this, however, is at all new, except that MS has now applied the client-server parallelism to body layouts:  Outlook has for years defaulted to wrapping all attachments and alternative MIME body parts in their proprietary WINMAIL.DAT format, driving mad those of us who have tried to write custom mail readers for our clients.  Users often have to be given specific instructions on how to alter their Outlook settings so that the MIME wrapper of attachments is preserved such that people they send TO can actually read those attachments in non-MS mail clients.

    So, yes, it is very disturbing and annoying to have the newest technology adding to our interoperability woes rather than easing them, but it’s not new and it’s frankly not a surprise.

  • Freddy M.
    31st January

    It’s funny to see a long email describing why the microsoft culture kills innovation internally but is willing to listen to innovative ideas from random outside people.

    Say what you will about apple, but their stuff works, it’s beautiful and people love it. Microsoft..not so much. Although to be fair the clearification.com website for vista was lovely.

    Bush pretends to be open to suggestions too but we know he’l bully his way to wherever he wants to go-slagging off anyone who gets in his way. Taking a shot at apple is consistant with this brand of headspace.

  • Yani
    31st January

    Well I need for my own sake to be able to see html mail as it was intended to be seen. I don’t think I am going to be willing to compromise my needs because MS… well let’s be honest… were lazy.

    I’m certainly not paying for an upgrade to less.

    Yani

  • Zach Katkin
    31st January

    Although I understand why word will still be used, I don’t understand Microsoft’s resistance to change:

    “in order to keep the look and feel of emails consistent between Outlook users”

    Currently, the creation of HTML emails that render well under different mail clients is next to impossible and standards compliance within mail clients is a joke. MS needs to make a stand, break a few eggs, use IE, and create a delicious standards compliant omelette.

  • Roman
    31st January

    I hope this ends up backfiring on them. There will be those who will try to stay with the older version of the Outlook just because they will get tired of looking at malformed emails.

    I also think that the new way of formating introduced in the new version of the office has something to do with this. They would have to create the two forms of this one that produces Word document and the other that produces HTML and CSS (not an easy thing to do).

  • Morgan Roderick
    1st February

    Well, you can always add a “If you’re using Outlook 2007, you’d better read the web version” link to the top of your CM emails :-)

    As for the rest of the automated emails we send out ... I guess close-to-plain-text is going to be popular very soon ;)

  • Jeremy Brown
    3rd February

    There are a number of email publishers who use animated .gifs as part of their advertising options. Many valuable email newsletters are ad-supported.

    This is quite a step backward for email, Microsoft, and their users.

  • Yani
    3rd February

    I’m damn sick of having to muck about just to get stuff to render correctly in IE. So even if they had used the IE engine we would still be screwed.

    May as well just send everything in plain text with a link and a strong suggestion that people use Firefox.

    Both issues need a strongly worded web petition. Both issues are just lazy work covered up by some crap excuse.

  • Project Manager
    10th February

    Frankly, all these comments like “Just use Firefox” aren’t practical in the slightest.

    We’re designing emails for mailing lists that contain literally hundreds of thousands of people. Do you think we’re just going to get everyone to stop using Outlook by putting a smarmy message at the top of the email?

    Useful dialogue is telling us how to get the most out of what we have to work with. Complaining about what Microsoft should or should not be doing, again, isn’t constructive.

    I’m certain Microsoft will make their changes in their timeframe…in the meantime, we need to deal with the situation in a practical manner. Yes, it slams the heck out of recent designs, and yes, it’s going to be a real pain having to re-engineer all our templates.

    OK. Complaining over.

    We need to be looking for best practices and tricks at this point.

  • Teaman
    16th February

    Once again…Microsloth is forcing everyone into their mold if you want a happier existence. Never mind there are other players in the field, let’s damn them nor play in a cooperative manner.  They think only they exist and only they should exist!  From a greedy corporate perspective that may be the path to the most $$ but it alienates lots of people and may in the end cause rebellion on their attempted path to world domination.  If only corporate and private America would boycott MS products until they listen and change their evil ways.

  • Yani
    18th February

    Perhaps the best way of protesting MS devation from standards is to only ever visit their sites using Firefox. You can be near sure they record what browser is used to view there sites.

    If all the professional who use TechNet were visiting using Firefox they might start to seriously think about their ‘attitude’.

    As for email and Outllook… there are a few sites that for a couple of bucks create screen grabs of the rendering of various email readers.

    Yani

  • Burt Brumme
    21st February

    Apologies if this has been suggested already, but has anyone considered declaring war on Microsoft?  I mean really, as a community we have a lot more power than we think we do.  If Microsoft was really interested in making things better, they could have done so a hundred times by now.  They do what they please because everyone just says, yep, they’re the boss.  BUt they’re not.

    If we begin to strongly warn clients off of microsoft products.  Make suggestions at work, write articles in prominent publications and gernerally get everyone putting out the same message, change will happen.

    I know many of you will think I’m naive for even suggesting this, but every revolution has to start somewhere, and it seems the only way to make a dent in MS’s thick skull is by taking away its market share.  It may take years, but then again so will fixing the bugs in the Outlook rendering engine.

    You have nothing to lose but your chains!! :)


  • 28th February

    As long as the majority of computers sold come with Windows installed Microsoft products will continue to dominate. If you want to break that paradigm it must be done at the point of sale. Don’t waste time whining. Tell retailers and computer manufacturers what you want. Start buying computers with competing OS’s and recommend to others that they do the same. Only the loss of market share will modify attitudes and behaviors at Microsoft.


  • 28th February

    “If you want to break that paradigm it must be done at the point of sale.  Don’t waste time whining.”

    You are SO incredibly wrong!

    1)  It won’t be at point of sale, there is no widespread commercial PC OS alternative to Windows to BUY AT ALL.  I would GLADLY pay for one.

    2)  If I have an opinion, a complaint or whatever, who the fvck are you to tell me I’m not supposed to voice it if it goes against your opinion?  Next time you find something that isn’t ideal, be sure to post your non-idealistic comments where I can see them so I can call it whining. 

    To put it another way, what did you expect a company to ever change or improve about their product or practices if you don’t voice criticims?  Telling a manufacturer is one way, but certainly not the only way.  A multifaceted distribution of information is always better than isolated customer suggestions that may not even reach the appropriate parties at that company, but with enough buzz through multiple sources, they’ll hear about it one way or the other.

    3)  Loss of market share is not what will modify attitudes, it’s the legal repercussions of the damage already done to the industry.  We are beyond the point of possible competition, and a certain company’s actions to make that happen are a part of why there must be legal repercussions.

    4)  The truth is that open source will eventually win out.  Due to the low profit models involved, progress is slower but critical mass is reached when the most common things are possible and the (now old tech) hardware performance required is supported.  There need not be any mass retail changes or persuasion of anyone, the natural course of software evolution will make it happen either way.

    The only thing remaining is to be honest about your needs.  Most people dont actually “need” advanced HTML rendering in Outlook.  Most people who insist on it are the types responsible for the vast majority of viri in this world spreading.  Imagine if people who think more=better where just told -NO-, it’s tough if you want some crazy thing done with email, if you want a webpage then put a link to that webpage in your email.


  • 1st March

    If you are unable to tolerate the opinions of others then you shouldn’t be here.

    No viable commercial alternative to Windows? You need to get out more. WAL-MART sell PC’s with Linux. And when I said competing OS’s I did not rule out MAC.

    Criticism of Microsoft has gone on for years with no effect whatsoever. Even the justice department has had little or no effect. That situation will likely remain unchanged in the foreseeable future or for as long as it is possible to purchase congressmen with campaign contributions. You may whine to MS with my blessing. See how far it gets you.

    If you think that the MS market share is unassailable then perhaps you should
    just rollover and let them keep sticking their dictums up your back side.

    Loss of profits or the fear of lost profits is IMO the only way to influence bad players such as MS.


  • 1st March

    I tolerate opinions just fine, but that doesn’t make them any more valid.

    You are misunderstanding basic terms if you call Linux a commercial alternative merely because it is bundled with a product sold for profit.  A commercial alternative OS is one that has industry financial backing through direct sales, the opposite of Linux.  If you think on it a bit you will see the obvious connection between revenue and resources to devote to development and marketing.

    How crazy it is to think criticism of Windows, not Microsoft, hasn’t brought about any changes.  Everything from the UI to many of the features in Outlook came from customer feedback, good and BAD.  Do you always make things up as you go along?  Microsoft does listen, even if they dont always make the changes any squeaky wheel asks for

    Like I already wrote, there is no commercially competitive OS so the loss of profits idea is wrong.  If you fantasize about being having your rear explored, keep that in the bedroom as it just shows crude misunderstanding in an otherwise normal discussion.

  • Anne Dougherty
    3rd March

    It should be obvious to anyone who has ever used more than one product from the Microsoft Office “suite” that Microsoft project teams don’t speak to each other when it comes to interface development.  What else could possible explain the vast differences in the ways that Excel, Word, and Powerpoint function from a user perspective?

    That said, what irritates me is not that Microsoft made changes to their product. This is the underlying engine of product development: listen to user feedback and improve the product.  What bothers me is that e-mail developers have to *prove* that we are being adversely affected by these changes yet Microsoft isn’t required to adhere to any sort of development standard (last time I check float was valid CSS).  Where is the call for Microsfot to be held accountable to standards based development?  In all seriousness, the standards exist for a reason.  Can they be improved upon?  Certainly, but not by ignoring features that have already been accepted.


  • 3rd March

    Linux and Mac each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Windows market share is due to purchasing habits. Change purchasing habits and market share will change too. That change is impossible for you because you’re convinced that there is no commercially viable alternative. We are in agreement on this point: You have no alternative but to keep using Windows.

  • Michael Kanyid
    13th March

    My biggest gripe right now is the changes made to the Categories feature.  I’ll quote from another site.

    “In Outlook 2003 and earlier, categories assigned to outgoing messages ... some productivity methodologies have noted that this can be a good way to keep your messages organized within your team.  [Precisely!]

    By default, Outlook 2007 installs and enables a rule to eliminate incoming categories.

    Outlook 2007 strips out categories prior to sending, regardless of platform.  I haven’t found a way to turn this off - please let me know if you find one.”

    It’s this last point that is the real annoyance.  How can I preserve the categories metadata to make my job of organizing returning messages easier?

    The article in its entirety can be found at http://blog.clearcontext.com/2007/01/outlook_2007_ca.html

  • hans verhaegen
    14th March

    It’s late and I have to finish a html newsletter. I started some weeks ago. Everything went fine until Outlook 2007 appeared on the scene. The client of course doesn’t understand. He bought the shining Vista with Office 2007. What can possibly go wrong! Conclusion: it must be the designer! I am an experienced webstandard css designer. I feel insulted by Microsoft. I might loose my credability, my client. I remember how to make old school html designs. That’s what I am doing now. For the client. But the passion for web design is just slipping away. This thing with Outlook is the last drop. For the first time I am considering to stop web design altogether. What is the point of all the long hours of studying, experimenting, trying to do the best thing?
    I am writing this on my last PC. I will never buy Vista. Never buy Office again and avoid any other product of a company that consciously destroys the passion of so many people.
    So to all the ‘common’ people asking me what to buy for use at home: try linux or mac. And I will join them.

  • Mark
    19th March

    I don’t see how this decision from Microsoft reflects their general, newly-discovered love affair with XML. Office 2007 takes a great step towards pure XML document interoperability. In another generation or two, I could see a situation where the content portion of a Word document could be dropped directly into another renderer for a completely different look or use - eg. into a web browser with an attached DTD (document description) that tells the browser how to map the various parts of the document onto HTML-accepted XML tags (eg. Heading 1 becomes H1). Along with a stylesheet this repurposes your Word document to a standards-compliant web page completely in style with the rest of your site, or even multiple sites with different designs. You could take a Word document with an embedded Excel table and drop the content directly into your email client. Apply a Style you’ve previously designed and voila! one formatted email with your designed web/document content in it ready to send and on the other end repurpose as required.

    Outlook 2007 appears to be a step in the other direction. Removing support for accepted stylesheet elements means we’ll all go back to coding table-based designs and inline styles. So much for the separation of style and content. For the foreseeable future, designed emails will remain bulky, difficult to create, and resolutely single-purpose.

    Sigh. With Microsoft, it’s always two steps forward, one step back.

  • SoWeLie
    11th April

    It’s great that Microsoft is taking suggestions as to how to improve the Word rendering engine.  But when all is said and done, it will be right where the IE7 rendering engine is right now…So what is the point?

  • Bill Mitchell
    16th April

    You guys all have it wrong!

    What M$ is employing here is “planned obsolescence” and it is a boon for the developer community!

    Why?  Simple.  CSS based HTML marketing has been around for so long now that it has almost achieved legacy status.  Most people ALREADY HAVE the templates they need, so why do they need YOU anymore?

    So what does M$ do?  They come along and BREAK everyone’s legacy systems, thus requiring developers to create all new models.  Brilliant!

    It’s like computers getting faster.  You may think your computer is plenty fast now to do anything that needs to be done for the next 5 years, but software designers are mad with power.  As soon as faster technology comes along, they start to design to drain every drop of blood from that new technology and speed.

    Result?  Your computer that seems fast today with today’s software is slow tomorrow because the software is more “power-hungry”.  Thus, you need to spring for a new pc and the whole thing cycles.

    I know it’s a pain now, but believe me, as developers you will make MORE money over the next 3 years because of this change than you would had things remained the same.

    By occasionally “breaking” legacy systems, M$ keeps us employed.

  • Stuart Buckell
    20th April

    First off, after reading all these comments I have to agree with many people.

    What made me smile was the “Your comments (basic HTML is fine)” this comments box says.  Should rename this comments box Outlook 2007.

    That aside, I am annoyed that Microsoft are seeming to steer away from Standards Based solutions.  Viewing the network of websites we manage, I notice a trend of increasing users browsing with Firefox.

    I also see the change in the software business model with regards to open source.  It will catch Microsoft, but they are trying to react with the new “office online”, and getting into bed with Novell.

    The only alternative for us is to have a web link to the HTML Email and send emails as plain text again.

    Bill you are right about having more work, but clients do not like to spend money fixing things which are broken by third parties.  They like to see a ROI.  They spend money on new technology because they gain added benefit.  To fix email templates becomes a “cost”.

    New email templates with great HTML = Selling point for customer.
    Fixing broken email templates = Cost the customer can do without.

    If Microsoft had taken the opposite approach and provided a standards compliant Outlook 2007 we could approach our clients and state: “We can once again upgrade your templates to include more features to increase ROI”.

    Nearly every business we come into contact with we push the Linux server route, and alternatives to Microsoft.

    Not because Microsoft is bad, its got the industry to where it is today, but because small businesses CAN get better _value_ from non-microsoft products.

  • Cheshire Dave
    20th April

    I just finally moved over to CSS-based design for my emails, letting it degrade gracefully to simple HTML with h1, h2, p, etc. As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to keep doing that, and those who are using Yahoo, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird will get emails the way they were meant to be seen, and Gmail and Outlook 2007 users will get the simple mail. I’m not sure what my email will look like in the new MSN—right now it’s simple.

    For me it’s as simple as this: if Microsoft (and Google of all companies, by the way) is OK with giving its customers an inferior experience, I’m not bending over backwards to try to pick up the slack. I’ve got too much else to do—I can’t afford to spend hours on my emails.

  • film_girl
    22nd April

    I was more aggravated two months ago, but now I’m pretty much used to the new render engine—anything that looks funky I just launch in a separate web browser, I double-check any design mails I send out in advance, blah blah blah—but what still kills me is the whole lack of forms support. I get a number of e-mails on one account that all have reply-to forms built in. In previous versions of Outlook, I could reply back and then the person I was corresponding with would be notified by e-mail (and the comment would appear on a web page in a thread). Now the forms don’t work, and I have to click on a link to reply directly at the web page itself. It’s just an extra layer of annoyance and a time waster that really bugs me. It isn’t anything that prevents me from doing my day-to-day correspondence or anything, but you know, it irks.

  • Richard Amiss
    26th April

    Easy to solve:

    1) Demand your money back for Outlook 2007
    2) Upgrade to Outlook 2002
    3) Get as many people as you can to do this.

    Trust me this solution is capitalism at its finest. If enough people do this it will be solved.

  • Wulf
    26th April

    Any ideas as to why Microsoft didn’t just use the Expression Web engine? And, while we’re at it, can anybody think of a reason why they shouldn’t use it in IE 8 as well?

    According to Microsoft, “Expression Web has the most accurate rendering engine available today”*. In other words, Microsoft has already admitted it works better than Trident, Tasman and the Word engine…

    * “Especially for FrontPage Users” - Microsoft Expression: http://www.microsoft.com/expression/expression-web/FPUpgrade.aspx

  • Mustang
    3rd May

    Ditch your Exchange Servers and get Zimbra :-)

    If everyone quits buying Microsoft’s products, they will implode.  The problem isn’t just Microsoft’s, its all the corporations that have built their infrastructure on their products so that we who prefer not to use Microsoft products or even support them are considered mavericks, even a little crazy.

    I’m fine with creating email content that looks good in standards supported mail clients.  If my email campaign looks lousy in Outlook 2007 BC then so be it.

    So don’t downgrade to 2007, and don’t downgrade to Vista, and dump Exchange.

  • Chrisd
    12th May

    Sorry, but I actually approve of this decision. As an e-mail READER (not designer), I don’t want to get ridiculously formatted e-mails in my mailbox. I want to get e-mails. If I wanted to see a WEB PAGE, I’d click on a link inside the e-mail and view it in my web browser.

    It is ridiculous to suggest that e-mails should be a totally formatted medium following all standards as though it’s a browser - it’s not, it’s an e-mail reader and so it should only read a limited subset of the formatting commands available. There is no need for the Float or Position attributes in a ‘genuine’ e-mail message, and if you REALLY want to format messages for outlook users, you can use the Microsoft Office absolute formatting codes.

    My last years of using Outlook have been plagued by fears of “HTML Viruses” and the like: I feel safer using an application that reads e-mails in a ‘protected’ environment. I want to see text, not run scripts and javascript.

  • jan
    21st May

    @chrisd. this has nothing to do with security and makes it only easier for your friends to sent you html email. That’s the whole point.

    for the rest. I hope that serieus projects like Ubuntu take shape fast and people will realize there are great alternatives. Stick to standards and display people who use software that doesn’t suport it, the crap they deserve. It’s their own choise. Microsoft surely understands what their doing, let them solve their own problems, i’m surely not going to invest any efforts into it because they now say they listen, come on !

  • anon
    21st May

    I have been trying to change the way HTML emails are laid out because of Outlook 2007. From the notes I’ve read, in tables, rowspan=0 is not supported, however I am finding when I slice up an email in Photoshop and save the HTML (which has many rowspans=x) it doesn’t render correctly in Outlook 2007, but sometimes it will. In the notes from Microsoft it doesn’t say rowspanning=x is supported or isn’t supported.

    WHY?

  • andipandi
    23rd May

    and cell padding doesn’t work. Ok, fine, I designed it in a table, using font tags, but not accepting table cell padding? wtf?

    I’m kind of resigned to all emails looking like hell from now on.

    And chrisd, most places let you choose text or html for your email preferences. That’s what I do. Or start using Eudora, they have no css support so you’ll see plain text.

    If you’re worried about viruses from html emails, get a mac.

  • Bethrezen
    28th May

    I don’t know why M$ don’t just scrap OE IE & WMP because these apps are IMHO inferior any way to be honest I wouldn’t recommend using any Microsoft technology period because if you ask me all Microsoft technology is inferior

    here is 12 very good reasons why

    1.) none compliance with established standards which make life harder than it need be because instead of being able to something once and then just having it work across the board the code has to be hacked to make it display right in Microsoft apps resulting in much frustration and wasted time

    2.) poor security and insecure default settings

    3.) poor maintenance take an app like firefox for instance if a serious problem is found in that its usually fixed pretty quick but if a similar problem was found in say IE it either wouldn’t get fixed or would take an unacceptable amount of time to fix now granted if the problem is complex than its going to take longer to fix but given all the resources and skilled programmes that Microsoft has at its disposal it shouldn’t take more that a couple of weeks really

    4.) superfluous bloat

    5.) many questionable functions and processes etc.

    6.) over complexity

    7.) Microsoft’s insistence on integration who ever decided it was a good idea to integrate IE OE WMP and the desk top together is an idiot that should be FIRED !!! because this is a recipe of security problems

    8.) Microsoft’s insistence on making life difficult by hiding everything and making controls deliberately obscure difficult to find

    9.) Microsoft doesn’t lessen to people instead of lessening to what people want they try to tell people want they want

    10.) proprietary technologies like Active x that are known buggie and insecure

    11.) poor performance due to bad coding and extraneous bloat

    12.) interoperability problems caused by proprietary technologies and none compliance with established standards which again just makes life harder than it has to be

  • Cr@zy Ch@rlie
    2nd June

    I’d like to know why the seemingly random selection of what is and isn’t supported.  There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.  The decision to go through all this makes absolutely no sense and I can’t see who would’ve benefitted from these changes.

    We, as a company, deal with a large number of HTML emails and most of them have major layout issues due to this change.  Within site development, we’d test all code against FireFox and IE and nearly all other browsers would work pretty well (Konquerer, Opera, etc.) aside from minor hacks or updates.  However, now it looks as if this is going to be more of a challenge in the HTML email arena without the support for basic CSS and HTML let alone CSS2 and XHTML.

    I know Microsoft’s WaSP team doesn’t want to hear rants and raves but constructive suggestions and cases where items are breaking.  How about starting back with Outlook 2003 and rethinking the rendering engine.  Word wasn’t meant for HTML authoring.  That was a mod that IMHO should’ve been a standalone engine versus a part of Word.  Set up hooks to spell checking, code validators, etc.  Don’t make beginners and seasoned developers have to scrap quality code to work with this out-of-date tool.

    Many posts here may be correct that Microsoft is trying to stir up the web community.  Nothing like putting bad software out there to mix things up.


  • 4th June

    Sorry to add a comment so late to the party but I thought this was kinda ironic.  I received an html email from Xbox live this morning (straight out of M-soft) and guess whats sitting atop the graphic-only message?  This little pearler:-

    “Please add .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to your address book to ensure delivery.
    Read this issue online if you can’t see the images or are using Outlook 2007.”

    Seems the Outlook 2007 changes have even caused confusion in the ivory towers.

  • JohnK
    6th June

    I’ve only just “upgraded” to Outlook 2007, and I am distressed and furious at the impact the Word HTML engine is having on my email life.
    So many of the email newsletters I subscribe to are either garbled, completely broken, or send Outlook into 100% CPU hell. Everything worked fine in Outlook 2003. MS took a very good email client and wrecked it.
    Just one example:
    http://www.newsparadise.com/outlook/outlook.htm

  • Collin
    7th June

    Frankly, I think one viable option for us developers is to simply keep developing and producing emails exactly as we have been… using CSS and otherwise current standards. When all these emails start breaking (as they already have), and clients start calling us and telling us about it, we can politely refer them back to Microsoft.

    Let Microsoft explain to their own customers why things suddenly don’t work as they have for the past 5+ years. We didn’t break anything. They did. They can therefore fix it. I for one refuse to give in to this sort of garbage.

    There is but one way to quash Microsoft’s arrogance, and that is to stop creating workarounds and direct the mess they create right back to them.

  • Jean
    15th June

    I use Crystal Reports 11 and send the report in HTML format to my client who is using Outlook 2007. What shall i do? Ask my client to downgrade their Outlook? :)

  • Greg
    16th June

    As with most of you, I can’t believe that “they” keep making choices to throw aside interoperability and web standards.  How can a company say they are serious about helping their customers advance into the modern age of technology when they do silly things like this that show that they don’t overly care about interoperability, or the people that are really working with their products.

    Why is it that I have an e-mail signature created by Word that is 12k, filled with if statements, and duplicate content, and poorly constructed style-sheets, which should simply fit into a 1k simple HTML doc?  How much are they complicating peoples lives and increasing the size of wasted data being sent around the internet?

  • Lee Carré
    19th June

    A note on alternative operating systems, especially at the point of purchase:

    Dell have once again started tinkering with linux on it’s range of desktops and laptops back in February this year.

    It has since been reported that Dell have committed to offering a linux distro installed as an option in May.

  • Jonathan Peterson
    20th June

    You know, this really sucks from the point of view of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    If we’re sending CSS styled emails they can be restyled by a reader by forcing their own style sheet in webmail.  But Microsoft is forcing us to send emails that are significantly worse for visually impaired readers - ensuring that the text only version, that should be the last option will be the only option.

    I wonder if using word to format and render was done to justify Microsoft’s claim that Outlook is NOT a web-based product
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=3&url=http://download.microsoft.com/download/c/2/3/c23bc250-5f80-4d0c-a29d-877355ff91e8/Microsoft%20Office%20Outlook%202007%20VPAT.doc&ei=-AV4RondNI3IggSY3o2pCA&usg=AFQjCNE8PA2kxLQbZBdVOidG5oPSiV3EHw&sig2=uPVyVXh-8_uXRkWzWbv-9w

    I’d be willing to bet that the National Federation for the Blind threatening a lawsuit over Outlook 2007 would be a HUGE push towards using a standards compliant render engine as the default over world.

  • Stefan
    27th June

    http://www.zeldman.com/2007/06/08/e-mail-is-not-a-platform-for-design/

    Nuff said.

  • Dave Greiner
    27th June

    Maybe you missed this Stefan.

  • Vanarie
    12th July

    The XBOX newsletter header (“can’t see the images or are using Outlook 2007”) makes it clear that Microsoft is VERY off base when it comes to serving the public with efficient, logical programs. This is a huge dis-service to every email creator in the business and gives everyone yet another reason to migrate to OpenOffice and Thunderbird. How could they be so stupid? It baffles me. It’s the tail wagging the dog.

    Another gripe is that you can NOT easily opt-out of the XBOX newsletter. There’s no one step “click here to unsubscribe”. They say “If you do not wish to receive marketing e-mails from Xbox, please update your contact preferences on My Xbox”. Arrogant!

  • hddn_agnda
    15th August

    So many people complaining about format standards…

    I am sorry to tell you this, but so long as the majority of users are using Microsoft products, it does not matter who says what standards belong where.  Microsoft IS THE standards creator until such time as they lose their lead in the market.

  • Sid
    25th August

    MS sucks.  I am tired of always having to explain to people why, because most common users don’t understand the tech behind web standards, and really don’t care.  It’s like saying Pres. Bush sucks. People just don’t care and will wait until something else comes along - hoping it will be better because it’s new.

    As for HTML/XHTML emails, (which is what this blog is about, right?)  Outlook isn’t our only enemy.  Web-based email readers have troubles, too. Probably cause they’re based off of Outlook.  Stepping back in standards acceptance is just a slap in the face to developers, designers, and end-users.

    Open-source, please save us.

  • pj
    7th September

    Yeah - M$ sucks big time. Seems every office upgrade starting from 2.0 up to 2007 has broken things. So now I can’t copy and paste an image in Outlook 2007 and email to a Lotus Notes user. I’m going to format and reload my laptop AGAIN because M$ F*#Ks it up so much that I have to do this about every 18 months.

    Lotus Domino 8 has its own office suite bundled into the product. Our office users will be using that and we will be dumping M$ quicker than a cup of cold coffee.

    My next laptop WILL BE A MAC and in the meantime I’ll go back to 2003.

  • MM
    15th September

    From an personalized email perspective, the best way to create compelling concepts, is the ability to put personalized text over a background image inside a tag. Without that capability, it’s just the same “[First Name] [Last Name], get 10% off when you buy XX” garbage.

    This is a tremendous step backward with regards to marketing. Please MS, get this done, and get it done right! At the very least, support the CSS that would allow users to put a background image.

    Does Outlook Express still exist? Does it also suffer from the same “upgrade”?

  • briansage
    21st September

    Here’s an idea—we CAN do about this—are there any ActiveX gurus out there that can write an ActiveX add-on for Outlook that swaps the Word rendering engine for Gecko?

    Seriously, is anything from MS going to save standards? They’ve demonstrated they don’t care. The world has finally mobilized behind standards, and MS demonstrates that they absolutely don’t care at every turn.

    The best solution:
    “Subscribe to our email by clicking [Install]”

  • Dave Fearnley
    25th September

    First off, I agree that the decision regarding Outlook’s rendering engine is beyond ignorant and arogant. But instead of just complaining, I thought that I would try and provide a solution that may work for some people…

    In response MM’s question about Outlook Express. Bingo! I am not sure why more people don’t use this simple free client. It won’t run macros - providing an extra layer of protection against that style of attack. Sure it may have some problems, but like I said - its free.

    I have always used Outlook Express and have found that it is the best tool for sending HTML emails to different clients - including Outlook 2007 and the various Mac clients. Just make sure that you use inline styles and absolute URLs to refer to your images that exist on a website somewhere.

    I suppose OE uses the IE engine because that is what ships with the OS.

    In fact, I have the best success with creating my html in my preferred editor, and then simply copying everything between the body tags (do not include the body tags) and paste it into the source tab of your OE composition window (or the html tab of your web mail - SmarterMail has this). Then click back to the edit or preview pane.

    You will notice that once you change tabs your email source will be modified (massacred?) but it should display fine. Just don’t try and edit in your client. If you need to make changes, perform those in your favourite editor and do a wholesale copy / paste as before. After a bit of practice you will be able to learn what you can and cannot do, but I have been able to use background images and colours.

    Always be sure to do a test send to your friends with other platforms and email clients to test continuity.

    P.S. I will switch to FireFox when they can manage to layer backgrounds or properly support nested tables and centering with css

  • Microtired
    2nd October

    I have to say the HTML handling in outlook 2007 is absolutely god awful, it is inconsistent and unreliable. Altering an HTML mail when forwarding a sent mail for instance causes plenty of formatting problems that are unsolvable by any other method than taking the entire text piece to notepad and altering it there.

    And this substandard, memory heavy, crash prone and alltogther frustrating product is getting worse? I’m the systems administrator at my company and we’re going to move away from outlook all together now.

  • Joern
    19th October

    Currently, the creation of HTML emails that render well under different mail clients is next to impossible and standards compliance within mail clients is a joke. MS needs to make a stand, break a few eggs, use IE, and create a delicious standards compliant omelette.

  • DJKC
    2nd November

    There is no excuse for taking options away with new updates.  The ability to use animation should be available somewhere in MS Office.  I hope they see changes that go “backwards” upset the customers…which is US.

  • Frank Meyer
    8th November

    As with most of you, I can’t believe that “they” keep making choices to throw aside interoperability and web standards. How can a company say they are serious about helping their customers advance into the modern age of technology when they do silly things like this that show that they don’t overly care about interoperability, or the people that are really working with their products.

  • Mark
    14th November

    Do I have to beg Microsoft to abide by accepted standards such as html and css?

    My livelyhood depends on MS abilty to deliver quality.

    I am a pauper.

  • sickmind fraud
    23rd November

    It is also a basic Microsoft tactic to break something in everyone elses products so that everyone is forced to comply with Microsoft standards.

    On the basis that Microsoft knows best, and everyone should just use Outlook anyhow. Not that anyone else’s opinions are that important as it is.

    The upside to this is more sales for Microsoft.

    or else we fork the internet email system.

  • Jim
    20th December

    I am a user who has to switch between Office 2000 and office 2007 for different clients. The effect of not being able to send html pages by email (“Send page by email”) function is ruining my contact with people. In addition, the fact that incoming responses to categorised messages I send have the category deleted makes it annoying for my team of staff.

    How can something be an upgrade when it takes away basic functionality?

  • DirtyFrank
    5th January

    Why don’t all of us developers just stop bending over backwards for Microsoft and only develop for standards-compliant browsers and email clients? That will force Microsoft to get their asses in gear because they’ll be hearing nothing but complaints from all the regular people who won’t know why their browsers don’t work. I think a lot of these people will at least try to find out why this is happening to them and make the switch to Firefox.

  • dave
    10th January

    I cannot believe this.  All my hard work looks good anywhere but in Outlook 2007, which I had been highly recommending to my clients.  Just when I was getting the hang of CSS in Dreamweaver, now I have to relearn the old way.  I am schocked at MS and am speechless.  It just makes NO SENSE and I do not care what their reason is it is not good enough, no way.  Dave

  • Nathan Campbell
    25th January

    it breaks outlook to outlook as well. In my business, I send screenshots all the time (Alt-PrintScreen) - it strips those out as well. It has really screwed my ability to easily and effectivley get work done.

  • Harold Fuchs
    30th January

    Does all this mean that if I use Outlook but choose not to use Microsoft Office then I can’t render or see HTML e-mails?

    If so then why isn’t it illegal under EU and/or US restrictive practices legislation?

  • Michael
    2nd February

    Well, you can always add a “If you’re using Outlook 2007, you’d better read the web version” link to the top of your CM emails :-)

    As for the rest of the automated emails we send out ... I guess close-to-plain-text is going to be popular very soon ;)

  • Harvey
    16th February

    It’s simple. Microsoft forgot (again) that there is an outside world. Microsoft will get into trouble for this, and they won’t have a clue why.

  • Restaurant
    26th February

    Microsoft has clearly learned from decades of competition with Apple that there is no profit in unambiguity. Why not leverage a dominating market share and take control over “what is yours”? Problem is, Apple does it with style, promoting uniqueness while at the same time embracing prospering standards.

    With all the flare of rich internet applications, I figured it was only a matter of time before a secure email based application was completely feasable. So much for that idea. I will however be very impressed if any of our comments create any kind of change. The only way to make a statement is to not use the software at all and that is simply not possible.

  • Dave
    3rd March

    Microsoft say they have made a decision to render html woth the word engine rather than IE, but why and whats going on, I am no real techie, but using Publisher 2007 to create a html newsletter and then uploading the html to a site, reading it back with IE and then trying to forward the page.  This doesn’t work the page breaks up, it sounds to me Microsoft software doesn’t talk to each other, let alone the boffins at Microsoft.

  • John
    4th March

    I found quite a few of these comments funny.  I personally don’t like how Microsoft doesn’t comply with standards, however telling people to use alternative desktops isn’t an answer.  If you work with large corporations they could care less about what you think.  MS supports a lot of these customers very well (I work for one and deal with MS for their products on a regular basis).  This isn’t a large issue for these companies and MS is well grounded in these organizations.

    I just find these waring messages funny.  I use both Windows and Linux but I also live in the real world and know that there is not going to be any massive revolt against MS in the private sector that will slightly diminish their corporate sector.

  • lexie
    11th March

    Can someone answer a question for me…

    What versions of outlook does that actually effect?

  • Dave Greiner
    12th March

    This affects Outlook 2007 Lexie.

  • Paul
    13th March

    It’s really helpful for me to read these comments. I’m about an inch away from saying “screw Outlook 2007—if everyone’s content looks bad in it, maybe the Outlook team will be moved to make changes.”

    I mean why should my life be hell because of a “strategic decision” by Microsoft? They’re not the only game in town. Besides Outlook 2007 is…not my favorite. :)

  • PSD to HTML
    30th March

    While Outlook 2007 in general is a disappointment (as is Microsoft in general), but I can say with confidence that I’m glad Molly is a voice of reason now for Microsoft. Maybe MS will get it right this decade?

  • Ruth Moore
    5th April

    One of our largest clients is a company who sends out hundreds of thousands of HTML e-mails to their opt-in customers every month.  These e-mails are welcomed and widely popular.  My company does the HTML coding for these mailings and the new Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Mail have turned my job into a living nightmare at times.  In specific response to what Colin M posted about the changes not having much of an effect on HTML e-mail designers, well, all I can say is that you are crazy.  My biggest complaint with the changes is that from everything I can tell, when Word renders the HTML it seems to take any transparent image named spacer.gif and arbitrarily resize it from pixels to points and I do mean arbitrarily - there is no rhyme or reason to it.  I may have a spacer that is 150 pixels X 124 pixels and in one instance it is resized to 62.8 points X 14.9 points and in another to 12.3 points by 246.98 points.  HUH?  I have found the way to get around this is to create a separate spacer 10 X 10 of whatever background color I need, and name it xxxx.jpg, then use it instead of a single transparent 1 px. gif and it is NOT resized for me.  This is the only way I have been able to get my HTML to hold together.  I know I am not the only designer with these problems as I am always receiving HTML e-mails, from Pizza Hut or Sonic, as an example, where people’s heads are sitting on their butts instead of their necks!

    Microsoft has taken not just 1, but 100 steps backwards.

    The only good thing I can say is that is has provided many more hours of work and a great deal of job security.

    Ruth Moore

  • Jeff Jungblut
    12th April

    I’ve been working on redesigning the company’s weekly community magazine web site for the past few weeks using CSS as much as possible. I pat myself on the back for that even though no one else in the company even knows or could care what CSS is, including the self-proclaimed freelance “web designer” (aka dreamweaver user) who couldn’t read or write actual HTML code to save his life.

    However, the company’s weekly newsletter is a total nightmare. I’m going to have to completely redesign the template we’ve been using the past two years because what looks perfect in YahooMail, AOL, Entourage, and Apple Mail and acceptable in Outlook ‘03 is unreadable crap in Hotmail and Gmail and appears fairly broken in Outlook ‘07.

    I was told by the publisher’s assistant that we need to change the newsletter colors because the text appears black on a dark blue background on his Hotmail account. I told him that Hotmail is being dumb, the text we send is white, but I’ll look into the problem. He tells me it may be hotmail being dumb but I have to fix it anyway otherwise people can’t read it. I ask him how long has this been happening, a couple weeks or two years, and mention that I wish I’d been notified sooner. He says it’s been happening at least three weeks.

    I can do table layouts, no problem there. But even table layouts aren’t a sure-fire fix for layout problems. Gmail doesn’t seem to support cellpadding in table tags, for instance. Table cellpadding was a workaround I was trying to use for whitespace between columns because Hotmail doesn’t support CSS margin, and another client (can’t recall which) didn’t support CSS padding. Without a consistent and predictable way to specify whitespace between an element’s border and its content, the design is hopelessly screwed.

    I’m a PHP/MYSQL + CSS web developer, not an HTML mail designer. I didn’t want the email job. I’m pulling what’s left of my hair out.

  • John Kantor
    18th April

    You can’t be that stupid. It only has to do with Microsoft wanting to gain more control over your desktop. More egomaniacal paranoia from Bill.

  • Jonathan D
    29th April

    As far as I know, most Outlook e-mail templates are so corny much of the enterprise/corporate client-base stays away from them. So why increase support for an aspect of the program that is generally considered vestigial?

    I’m responsible for hundreds of thousands of legit, non-spam e-mails and this whole Outlook 2007 mess is taking years off my life-expectancy.

  • John
    1st May

    There is a posting that you can vote to have animated GIF’s back.  If we get enough people to vote, hopefully we’ll get the features back.

    http://www.microsoft.com/office/community/en-us/default.mspx?mid=d7118c2d-78aa-41e8-96fa-b1c11deccb09&dg=microsoft.public.design.gallery

  • Bleh
    19th May

    Sorry, but I prefer the Word HTML engine. It cuts down on a LOT of remote execution exploits. It’s a lot harder to get a virus just from opening the wrong email- you have to manually execute EXEs from untrusted sources.

    Sure, they can improve the engine, but the word engine lacks a lot of the security lacking problems (e.x. ActiveX) of the IE engine.

     

    Just my $.02 as an Outlook 2007 user.

  • sindbad
    26th June

    In my office I was forced to work on office 2007 -> I mean outlook. Ok, I understand, that microsoft is trying to make us live better but not easier!!!! First and the foremost - the sending box is failed! all e-mails in sending box I had to send one by one myself. the program won’t send it all automatically. Anybody know how to fix it???? best regards

  • OldNavyDude
    28th June

    ok.  most are spewing, whining, complaining, venting etc about how microscoft is forcing everyone to their way, and refusing to comply with well established “Standards”.  .... and how we HAVE to comply because of market share, no viable ‘commercial’ alternatives, etc. etc. etc.

    Ok look… I dislike them and their ways as well, but come on!  WAH!  Get over it!

    MS, like it or not, IS the (defacto) standard. Standards come and go, and anyone can publish a specification and call it a standard.  Even the word “STANDARD” has multiple meanings.  Look at <a href=“http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Standard.” rel=“nofollow”>http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Standard.</a>  Whats relevant here is definition “3: something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example.”  Most germane is “general consent”. 

    With overwhelming marketshare, it’s hard to argue against ‘general consent’.  No one holds a gun to our head.  We may not like our alternatives, and given the choices, we ‘consent’ to use MS products, even if it is begrudgingly granted.  We vote with our purchases.  Alternatively, how many individuals actually VOTED to ratify anything published by the W3C?  How many of YOU voted? And yet we all consider the Standards published by the W3C (or IETF or IEEE or… ) as having more validity.  What a bunch of crap!.

    I don’t like what MS does much of the time, and I love the concept of open source, but unless and until we, the MASSES, adopt a different way of doing what we do, then MS is, and will remain ‘The STANDARD’.

    Note that nothing I’ve commented on is an excuse or apology for the heavy-handed, uncaring, and seemingly irrational methods the company uses to operate.  It is simply the way it is. 

    Change it.  Use Linux, use a MAC, use something else…, and convince the rest of the world to join the revolution.

  • Restaurant
    8th August

    I’m damn sick of having to muck about just to get stuff to render correctly in IE. So even if they had used the IE engine we would still be screwed.

    May as well just send everything in plain text with a link and a strong suggestion that people use Firefox.

    Both issues need a strongly worded web petition. Both issues are just lazy work covered up by some crap excuse.

  • Firma kostenlos eintragen
    29th August

    As long as the majority of computers sold come with Windows installed Microsoft products will continue to dominate. If you want to break that paradigm it must be done at the point of sale. Don’t waste time whining.

    The only thing remaining is to be honest about your needs. Most people dont actually “need” advanced HTML rendering in Outlook. Most people who insist on it are the types responsible for the vast majority of viri in this world spreading. Imagine if people who think more=better where just told -NO-, it’s tough if you want some crazy thing done with email, if you want a webpage then put a link to that webpage in your email.

  • Jack T
    11th September

    It’s pretty crazy over there in Microsoft land.

    I’m not sure if this is a realistic option for our clients - but it is the RIGHT decision as human beings:

    DONT SUPPORT OUTLOOK 07

    IE6 is seriously bad enough. IE7 is even bad enough. But this! It is just so pathetic on their part that as a self respecting web developer, I refuse to support Outlook 07 with my email designs past the point of “you will be able to read it”.

    I honestly don’t think there is any point talking to Microsoft about something like this. It’s obvious its a business decision (to screw anyone over that isn’t running by theire rules). They only changed IE when they realised that it had a competitor they couldn’t ignore. Unfortunately Outlook doesn’t have a competitor.

    It’s a use it or loose it deal guys.

  • Haustiere
    12th September

    Tired old MS vs A retorts aside, this is bad news as I’m a new user less than a year in to my ‘Campaign Monitoring’ and starting to really get into the swing of creative HTML emails. I can’t believe I’ve now got to tone that down and retro-scale to make sure the PC users I’m sending to can read my mails.

    Oh the confusion. I’m going to be studying this post carefully.

  • Diagnose online
    14th September

    In previous versions of Outlook, I could reply back and then the person I was corresponding with would be notified by e-mail (and the comment would appear on a web page in a thread). Now the forms don’t work, and I have to click on a link to reply directly at the web page itself. It’s just an extra layer of annoyance and a time waster that really bugs me.

  • Candy
    1st November

    I’m not so sure middle or upper management ever hear from us. We complain to the tech or in the feedback comments, but they obviously don’t go anywhere. They might get some ideas from carefully set up queries given to especially selected users, but that isn’t me. So it really irks me when I hear them say they listen to me, they haven’t listened yet. The techs are nice and try hard, but they can’t do anything when it comes down to “uhh, I’m sorry but that’s just the way it’s made.” 2007 wasn’t ready for release and Vista definately wasn’t, isn’t. Come to think of neither were any of their other releases. They charge a fortune for products that are broken. If I could afford to, I would buy a Mac and tell Microsoft where to go. Heck, they’re headed there anyway for all the torture they have placed on the world. Except, I suppose I would still be forced to use Microsoft Office products for compatibility.

  • Steve
    20th November

    I long for the day when Outlook loses market share as IE did. Only then we will start to see a product that will work how the majority of people want it to and not how some bunch of suits in a board meeting think it should.

  • Jen
    26th November

    I’ve read all these blogs, does anyone have a fix for the html emails? We just upgraded to Microsoft 2007 company wide and we are forced to us IE 6. We just started having strange things happen to our html email.

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to fix our code so it works? Anything will help.

    thanks.

    ——-

  • gus
    13th December

    Hi What I want to do is for example: I market law firms via emails. So I would like
    to send for example 30 emails to 30 different lawyers at same time but have each recipient
    not know that he is part of a distribution group. so his email address is the only one that shows up on his email and not the other recipients. So he feels the email was only for him.

    PLEASE I beg you help me.

    Also since I grab my clients names at night is there any way to tell outlook to send the email at tomorrows date without showing the recipient that the night before that had I composed the email.
    from : Gus at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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