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As I type this post I still can’t believe it. I’m literally stunned. If you haven’t already heard, I’m talking about the recent news that Outlook 2007, released next month, will stop using Internet Explorer to render HTML emails and instead use the crippled Microsoft Word rendering engine.

Now c’mon, how bad can this be?

First things first, you need to realize that Outlook enjoys a 75-80% share of the corporate email market, which is similar to Internet Explorer’s share of the browser market – they make the rules. We’ve been doing some early testing, as have a few other brave souls, and come February, here’s just a taste of what won’t be supported:

  1. No background images – Background images in divs and table cells are gone, meaning Mark’s image replacement technique is out the window.
  2. Poor background color support – Give a div or table cell a background color, add some text to it and the background color displays fine. Nest another table or div inside though and the background color vanishes.
  3. No support for float or position – Completely breaking any CSS based layouts right from the word go. Tables only.
  4. Shocking box model support – Very poor support for padding and margin, and you thought IE5 was bad!

Microsoft have released a full run down of what is and isn’t supported, including a downloadable validator that helps you validate your HTML for their engine. Word of warning though, it only works with Microsoft software and Dreamweaver.

To give you a quick example of just how far backwards we’ve gone, here’s a screenshot of the Campaign Monitor newsletter (which uses CSS for layout) in Outlook 2000 and 2007. Yes folks, that’s seven long years difference.

The Campaign Monitor newsletter in Outlook 2000

Outlook 2000

The Campaign Monitor newsletter in Outlook 2007

Outlook 2007

This really is a game changer

. Previously you could send a HTML email in the comfort that the majority of your recipients would have very good CSS support. Other email clients were also catching up. Thunderbird uses the Firefox rendering engine, the new Yahoo! Mail beta has great CSS support. Things were looking good for us CSS based email designers.

Unfortunately, that all goes down the toilet now. If your email breaks in Notes or Eudora, it was often an acceptable casualty, but if it breaks in Outlook, you’re more than likely ostracizing too many recipients to justify your design approach. This certainly doesn’t spell the end for HTML email, it just takes us back 5 years where tables and nasty inline CSS was the norm.

Imagine for a second that the new version of IE7 killed off the majority of CSS support and only allowed table based layouts. The web design world would be up in arms! Well, that’s exactly what the new version of Outlook does to email designers.

What’s the reasoning behind this?

After picking up the contents of my desk off the floor and taking a few deep breaths, I tried to come up with a few decent reasons why Microsoft would go in this direction. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Security – But wait! Microsoft have touted Internet Explorer as “a major step forward in security”. Surely they’d just replace the IE6 rendering engine with IE7 and be done with it. I’d also love to know how float and position impacts the security of an email in any way.
  2. Consistent rendering – 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. But what about the millions of other email newsletters out there that aren’t created with Outlook or Word? If an email is created with Outlook, then surely it should display perfectly in a modern browser like IE7.
  3. They hate us – OK, this one might be pushing it, but I’m running out of explanations here. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not Microsoft bashers here. Both our products are developed on Microsoft’s .NET platform and we’ve been a fan of their development environment for the better part of a decade. But seriously, they’ve taken 5 important years off the email design community in one fell swoop.

At least they’ve still got Hotmail, right?

Well, no. We’ve been doing plenty of testing with the new version of Hotmail (Windows Live Mail) for an upcoming article and it turns out that like Outlook 2007, Live Mail is actually a step backwards for us email designers. At least Hotmail ignored all CSS (except for inline CSS) and you could force it to roll back to a nicely formatted rich text email.

Instead, Windows Live Mail displays some CSS but, you guessed it, limited support for floats and no positioning. It’s looking like table based layouts all round at Microsoft for the next few years at least.

Where to from here?

We’ve been spending the better part of the last 2 years encouraging designers to embrace accessible and standards compliant email design, but frustratingly that position may no longer hold much weight. Just yesterday, Jonathan Nicol said:

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.

Sadly, I couldn’t agree more. While this is certainly a big blow, the reality is that many of us are going to have to scale back our email templates to years past and stick with tables and inline CSS if we want consistent looking emails in Outlook and Windows Live Mail. For a quick example, our sample email templates use a table based layout combined with some simple CSS.

Template changes aside, I don’t see why we have to take it lying down. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this news. Perhaps if we get together as a community and explain to Microsoft how damaging this change really is, we can encourage some real change, or at the very least get the discussion started.

What say you, email designers?

Update 1: Welcome Digg users. With the anti-HTML email comments rolling in, I just want to clarify one thing here. This has nothing to do with the text/HTML email debate and won’t stop people sending HTML email. All it means is that a lot of HTML emails in Outlook will be garbled and difficult to read. Nothing more, nothing less. Thanks also to those posting constructive comments. It seems this situation might have plenty to do with Microsoft having to separate the browser from the OS for anti-trust reasons.

Update 2: We’ve just posted a follow up article that explains Microsoft’s reasoning behind this change and exactly what we can do about it if we want it changed.

Update 3: The time for complaining about this change or debating HTML vs plain text has passed. Read why we need to look forward and start doing our own part to improve standards support in HTML email.

  • MVDM


    jaw – floor…. Where is the frick’n sense in this? Is it ‘cuz they didn’t employ people who can understand CSS?? WTF??!!

  • Chris Harrison

    You’re not the only one ticked by this decision. I’m still in disbelief over this decision. Something definitely needs to be done. We can’t sit idly by while Microsoft screws this up! I wrote something brief on my site that addresses more about how I feel… (http://cdharrison.com/index.ph

    We need to let the Office Team know how we feel!!!!

  • Waxibo

    What a moronic decision. it’s up there with finding WMD in Iraq.
    Everyone knows it’s total BS but we’re powerless to do anything.
    Spitefulness or laziness? Maybe both.

  • Andrew Swinn

    My first thought was that Microsoft were putting another crazy idea out there to annoy us all. But after a second I kind of thought this might be good as I dislike HTML emails. If the client that has the majority share disables the ability to have multimedia presentations filling up my inbox, then I think this has some good points. I know it is possible for people to create really nice looking pages with very little size overhead, but alas most people abuse it and create overweight messages.

    However on the other side of the coin, I dislike most Microsoft products and this decision is rising to prominence one of the worst features of any Microsoft product ever made!

  • Craig Killick

    You would have thought that as these technologies and marketing techniques come of age, so would the technology.

    Unfortunately Microsoft are big enough (for now) to do what they want. Whilst the other big boys, Google and Apple, innovate and keep pushing forward, Microsoft are living on old glories.

    The sad thing is it will push people away. Especially the more tech savvie, who in turn sell the products for companies like Microsoft through word-of-mouth and, with blogs and social media outlets so much more in use, that word will spread that much quicker.

  • Dave Greiner

    I kind of thought this might be good as I dislike HTML emails

    Andrew, just to clarify, this doesn’t do anything to stop HTML emails, it simply means many of the emails you receive will be mangled and difficult to read. This will only add to your frustration.

  • Steve Tucker

    “Bad” doesn’t describe this. “Incomprehensible” isnt even quite there.

    Though somehow Microsoft’s decisions always make me laugh…

  • Kimberley Grey

    Oh, for crying out loud! I’m not even an email designer and this has got me bashing my head against my desk!

    Come on Microsoft, stop being such a pain in the neck.

  • edu

    Why you don’t just move to Thunderbird & Firefox?
    We are enjoying tabbed browsing, real web 2.0, inteligent spam filters, and a large etcetera since years.

    Please, show your disappointment to Microsoft by moving out from their crappy software :)

  • Patrick S

    Hey there… I guess this is attrubuted to Vista’s. IE has been split from the windows shell thus meaning that if IE is not installed on the computer Internet Explorer cannot render the HTML. See when you are in XP if you type in a url in Explorer it will go to the page “inplace” however if you open up Vista and try to put in the URL windows will open up your default browser to open the page. :)

    Patrick S

  • Ian

    Well, that’s ruined my day (and probably year). I’ve spent a long time encouraging clients to embrace email as a valuable brand building channel. Now it seems all I can offer them is a very plain, basic design. I expect performance across the board to drop off badly. We need someone to either come up with a great set of hacks, or for MS to realize the error of their ways and patch it up.

  • Luc Pestille

    Absolutely incredulous decision by MS – what next, the blink tag being validated as strict by the W3C? It’s taken years to get to the stage where I can template something in a very short amount of time because I know what will and won’t work, but soon I’ll have to go back to the stone ages. It’s ridiculous, and I hope OE2007 dies as soon as it can, or everyone switches to ThunderBird.

  • Johnny


    When you tried to come with reasons about why Microsoft goes this way I think you forgot to mention “Reason 4: to kill their competition”.

    Microsoft knows they can’t compete in CSS and standards so they, knowing most of the cake is theirs, step back to their solution.

    Mind you, they might plan to come with a service like “Microsoft Newsletters Service” where they will offer their “way” of doing things which are the way that Outlook will support best.

    Just my thought.

  • Bob Mc Adoo

    Patrick – I don’t think the core of the problem is Vista. Sure, XP “browser in the shell” was a quick solution to the fact that outlook and word share the same libraries and you use Ms Word to compose and edit email messages. The real problem is the html rendering engine of MS Word.

  • Ed

    What the hell is Microsoft playing at?!? This is crazy… they bang on about IE7 being more standards-compliant than ever…. and then they decide to use the Word rendering engine for Outlook?!?!

    I can’t believe that Microsoft want to make all our lives hell

  • Marcus Taylor

    WTF! We may as well all resort back to plain text again… who made that decision?

    I guess a company that decides that nine options to switch off a computer is good idea, thinks that ditching CSS standards is a good idea too. The beast is getting old and doddery and is becoming incontinent.

    How many geeks does it take to switch of a compter?

  • Hadge

    Its like all of Baldrick’s cunning plans rolled into one :|
    .eshot {position:in the toilet; float:”like lead”;}

  • Tee

    Screw ’em.

    I’ll continue to design to standards, and I’ll explain to any clients that the problem lies with their choice of software. I’ve already got 95% of my client base on Firefox / Thunderbird anyway.

    Incidentally – there’s no reason why MS can’t tie the MSHTML engine into Outlook, the same way that Mozilla have linked Gecko to Thunderbird (for example, you don’t need Firefox installed to run Thunderbird). They are just lazy.

    I really think this will badly affect their dominance in regards to browser / email software.

  • Chris

    I’m sure that security considerations are the main reason. I think the Office-team is relatively independent from the IE-team and that they don’t want IEs security problems any longer.
    Apart from this whole Outlook issue writing HTML for mails is — depending on the target-audience — always a pain in the ass. Just think of thousands of web-mailers, historic software installations in corporate environments and so on…

  • Jake Rutter

    Where is the official release for this? This is crazy!

  • Alan

    Why? My guess is someone saw a security issue or future opportunity and needed to stop either IE7 or Vista(?) being hurt and so made this mad, sad move.

    They have done wonders (by their previous standards) with IE7 from IE6 but sadly it’s seems the weird, fragmented approach they portray sometimes has repeated, but this time with bigger ramifications.

  • J T

    Okay, my boss (we are all email designers) is flying off the handle on this one. He’s comparing this one to Netscape 4….even worse! We had changed the way we did things here, including implementing more CSS, divs, etc. That’s out the window now.

    Someone should start a petition, requesting the reconstruct of such a barbaric idea. What ever happened to moving forward with technology??

  • G@Leh

    Stunned, I have despised MS for years, and am weaning myself off of Office. I realize the hard and fast behind this tho, our customers that we are trying to reach out to are still using this garbage.

  • handsome rob

    I’m surprised they’re not using Safari to render the emails, since they rip off and botch everything else Apple does.

  • CP _ Denver

    Whatever. No biggie. The world should be using Google products anyways. Go Gmail!

  • David Ross

    Is there anything we can do to stop this from happening? Can we write or complain or do something, anything to reverse their decision? This is ridiculous but I’m not shocked. I FUCKING hate microsoft. Sorry for curse but I absolutely hate them.

  • Peter

    Be happy you dont use Lotus Notes. Their rendering is more then 5 years back

  • Anna

    This truely makes me want to cry. What the fuck!

    What can we do?

  • Bubby

    So let me guess – this will allow all of those poor people in small business to go back to MS Word to create their email newsletters (or Outlook to send them) after we took all the time explaining why that was a bad idea. Nice. I’d venture to agree with another post here – Microsoft is going to really get into the email marketing game. They are jumping in heaviuly into CRM – it actually makes sense to allow users to build and deploy emails from their suite in the not to distant future. Will this hit guys like Campaign Monitor hard?

  • Anon_user

    Why is this such a big deal? HTML emails are far more dangerous and very annoying anyway. Go back to plain text for emails and use webpages to be creative.

  • Sank

    I like it. I’ve gotten emails from clients using the background images just b/c they look “pretty” and it ends up destroying the message formatting when I try to reply. Also, it’s less junk taking up bandwidth. If you need graphical pretty things sent to specific people, find another way.

  • Gary

    Hate to be a spoiler, but I long for the days when my email didn’t look like a webpage.

    Email should be fast and efficient.

    Graphical email is not.

    As for what you can do to “stop this”, probably the only thing you are going to be able to do is either buy the majority share in Microsoft or get hired on the Outlook development team and advance to a high enough position as to be able to make the decisions about the direction of the software.

  • Rich Black

    I’m no fan of using the Word rendering engine, but the real problem lies in the overuse of HTML mail. Anyone who doesn’t use Outlook already has problems similar to the ones this switch will cause, and there are only two ways to ensure perfect rendering; Use plain text for emails, and use PDFs for pizazz.

  • Adam

    I’m almost positive it has to do with the whole Anti-Trust issue. The answer that would make the most sense to me would be the word rendering engine is part of Office. IE is not and therefore instigate the issue that people are being forced to upgrade and use IE versus alternatives. I think its a step in the right direction but i believe that it has hindered the users experiance because of it. Only time will tell if they stick to their guns and give some resolution on it.

    I was a beta tester of Office 2007 and i actually thoroughly enjoyed the software. When i went back to 2003 when switching jobs i actually became less efficient. Also i never even noticed the issue and i’m betting others wont either.

  • Sam Liddicott

    “No Frames”

    Find a way to generate a belittling message that only shows when word is rendering the email.

    Let it explain that Word is below par, well out of date etc, and suggest alternatives.

    MS may hate their customers to be repeatedly told that their email client is not good enough.

  • Pete

    I cannot comprehend why MS refuses to comply with well-established standards. Normally, I wouldn’t be too concerned, but I send e-mails regularly and it’s already hard enough getting mail to render evenly across e-mail clients (even with minimal css/html). This is just plain stupid. Thanks for the thorough explanation, though!

  • CB

    I think this is a great move. I’m sick and tired of html email and hopefully this will reduce the number of people that think its cool to put html, background images, and all that other crap in an email.

  • ICTerify

    Currently using Vista and Office 2007 and I do not see these problems problems. I even make HTML based newsletters an I have do do not changes to the way i create them. It looks like FUD to me.

  • Fred Johnsen

    stop crying… BUY A MAC!!!

  • Defiant1

    I don’t want a browser rendering my emails. I want text emails. I’d be content if all pictures were attachments. Go back another 5 years Microsoft.


  • Nick Schmidt

    outlook sucks anyway.. well at least on my computer here at work…
    outlook is sooooo slow

  • Scot

    Hey, maybe now we can get email back to what it’s supposed to be. Text-based. HTML email has always been problematic and you’ve never been really sure about what the other person would see depending on their email client.

  • Mike Silverstein

    Let’s talk a little bit about spamminess, and why HTML might not be the way to go in email.

    We run SpamAssassin, a requirement when each email account averages 150+ spam messages per day.

    HTML is already suspicious and gets -10 — -40 if HTML only. Since -50 is quarantine, your beautifully crafted HTML only message is precariously close to deletion already.

    Email containing .gif receive no score – they are automatically quarantined. Quarantine is more or less a death sentence for your email as there is so much spam in the quarantine, your message becomes hard to spot as legit. Nobody bothers to look in there unless an expected message is not received.

    HTML links are automatically -10. All links are examined and compared to a database and if present, deleted.

    There are dozens of other rules, most not HTML-related. But a regular-expression database match between words in your message might mean deletion – “stick” being too close to “stock” might dock you that final 10 points and quarantine.

    These are default rules. Some ISP’s might turn them up if they are really getting bombarded.

    Due to past abuse by marketers, text might actually be your best bet at getting your message through.

  • dave

    I absolutely, positively never, ever use Outlook, except when I’m forced to at some jobsite. So I could really care less what email rendered within that idiotic program looks like.

    Email to Outlook users should, from now on, be considered text only by default. If someone complains, there’s a solution: quit using Outlook.

  • david

    For years we were left with IE hacks to webpages so the design would look the same as it did in clean code on the rest of the browsers. The promise of IE7 to be hack free you’d think they’d import the rendering engine from IE7 into Outlook but instead are bringing Word’s rendering engine into the program. Yep, that’s innovation, I’m soo excited, I so look forward to this, (sarcasm). I work for a very large advertising agency, and we produce alot of html email. It’s been frustrating that we cant’ use CSS as much as we’d like because of email clients like Hotmail that seems to ignore or strip the code. But now we have to deal with Outlook 2007’s rendering engine of Word, possibly one of the worst ever developed. ;(

    No one in our IT or interactive groups are thrilled by this horrible decision from Microsoft. ;(

  • bub

    its not about weather we should have html emails or not – its about choice, not being able to choose is the problem

  • Bryan

    1. Email should be text only.
    2. Email should be text only.
    3. Though everyone complains about Microsoft, they will under absolutely no circumstances even consider trying any other product, so this is what we get. We’re at the mercy of the beast.

  • @@wasibo

    You’re funny!

    On topic tho, this is a lame move by ms. They want to slow development & keep their monopolies. Hey monopo’lies’ good one, I’m nearly funny too.

  • WTL

    After some thought, I believe what Microsoft is thinking is that because Outlook will now use Word’s rendering engine, they will get people to *compose* emails in Word, so to get them formatted the way that they want, further locking people in to Office.

  • kw


    All those network managers who have spent so much time convincing employees to not open unknown word documents are now going to find they have no choice. (As the despised and vulnerable word engine will BE the email rendering engine.)

    This cracks this virus attack vector WIDE open!

    I whole heartedly agree that emails should be plain text, and hate when they have HTML and image content. This development only confirms my feelings on the matter.

    Want me to see your pretty pictures? Don’t waste my bandwidth. Send me a plain text url, and if I feel like it, I’ll cut and paste it into my browser of choice.

    Otherwise, just stay the hell out of my inbox.

  • Justin

    Is it possible that Word 2007’s rendering engine has been updated to support things like CSS… haven’t heard anything about it but doesnt this seem possible?

  • Android

    …just stop using Outlook

  • Josh Williams

    This is un-freaking-believable. Wow. And just like that we’re all screwed.

  • Justin – Too funny!

    Too funny… Justin, your comment was not posted as I was typing mine, hope people realize we are two different people.

  • Lenny

    Lets all all just get thunder bird and forget about microsoft.

  • Rob

    You forget one important thing: you opinion is meaningless. MS has made their decision, and that’s it. Serial monopolists are likely to come out with gems like this.

  • Jim

    I suppose we can thank all the idiots that don’t want windows to ship with IE for this.

  • kitsimons

    Looks like it’ll be a decent year for Thunderbird take-up then…

  • chris furniss

    I agree that Emails are supposed to be quick and simple text, and that HTML email really really sucks. Unfortunately, clients LOVE html email and most of the time it is very hard to convince them that their emails should look different than a landing page. In fact, I bet most “regular” users think that there is no difference between email and the internet. They couldn’t care less, they just want something pretty.

    When I make HTML emails (usually under protest) I always code them for the lowest common denomenator. Tables and inline CSS. Cause we have idiots like the people at Microsoft always doing things like this to crap everything up.

  • aeb

    I like html emails only when the amount of html is limited – some font colors, some information structured in a table, etc.

    I for one welcome this change.

  • gb

    Yet another reason I can laugh at those who laugh at me when I say I still do primarily table layouts. While I see the power of CSS, I don’t see how anyone can say it is the new “standard.” When finally becomes a legit standard, great, I’ll switch.

  • JB

    Who are all these cavemen craving text email? Don’t you have Geico commercials to be in?

  • [kbox]

    Demon there is nothing wrong with HTML email.

    But if the problem was with HTML email then why use an antiquated rendering engine to render that HTML in a poor way?

    Just use linux people!

  • John Marstall

    HTML email isn’t just for spam and marketing campaigns. Try organizing tabular data in ASCII, or soliciting responses to be fed to an automated system (think Netflix).

    And even if you thing HTML email should go, the answer is not to replace the HTML renderer with one years out-of-date. The answer would be to remove support for HTML entirely.


  • Robert D

    Not that this has not already been stated but, personally I force all email recieved via outllok to be formatted as plain text. However I think the option should be there for folks to recieve html formatted messages in all of there glory. At work if I had my way I would force enterprise wide text only emails.

    HTML is made for a browser not my inbox but that is just my 2 cents.

  • Me

    Buy a Mac and you won’t have this problem!

  • Chris

    Dear Microsoft,

    You will get more flies with honey than you will with vinegar.

  • mb

    So how many of you actually use Outlook at home? And if you do… why? Outlook is packaged as a corporate client… and as a corporate customer, we don’t allow HTML mail. So what is the problem? If you MS haters actually looked around, and maybe attended a free office presentation (yes MS has office software launches and other presentations for free), you may actually see that 95% of the user base WANTED it this way. So stop crying, use your open source app or whatever you want. You can CHOOSE not to use the software. And yes, there are other packages out there so none of that shit argument either!

  • Sean

    Saying emails should be only text is like saying emails should not be used for marketing purposes. Like that’s going to happen.

  • Romeyn

    Yay! E-mail is for TEXT.

    You want to make a web page? Make a web page and post it to a WEB SERVER and E-mail the link.

  • Nick

    If you don’t like something in an open source software, you (or a programmer you hire) can change it to your liking. You can’t do that with proprietary software. If this was to happen in Thunderbird, there would be a fork with a fix available within a day. This is why I choose Free software (that’s Free as in Freedom).

  • Kendra

    I’m completely discouraged because I just started putting together html e-mails and now I have to be cautious about this?! Microsoft is a joke let’s all switch to Macs!

  • Tom

    HTML > /dev/null

  • Ray

    Folks it is simple stop using Microsoft and switch to Linux ,, Microsoft has been telling you all how to do your work for years it is time to shut them down once and for all and get rid of there crap OS’s and programs

    we use Firefax here and have noe problems

  • mav

    Word has a crapload of exploits available for it too.

    I figure this is all about making it easier for people to take Word documents and turn them into emails. It increases Office lock-in.

    And as far as everyone who has suggested changing e-mail clients, well, that’s not really possible in an enterprise environment – most large companies are locked into the Exchange/Outlook combination and would require something as good or better to come along before they would ever consider migrating. (Believe me, the number of network admins that dream about this happening is not small, but so far nobody else has released anything that really competes with the functionality of Outlook + Exchange.)

    Me, I can only hope this decreases the number of people sending crappy HTML emails, because I am utterly sick of Outlook locking up and taking 30-40 seconds to load all the associated crap from the Exchange server for a message I’m just going to delete anyway.

  • someone

    Why not give it up and go back to good old basic text only messages. They don’t waste server space with images & all the html code, you don’t have to worry about the rendering, plus it definitely removes the IE security problems.

  • Larry

    I agree with the text based email only. If I want to see pretty pictures and layouts, I can load up Firefox. It’s called including a “hires” link inside of your email people. I hate getting 30 emails a day that are HTML and image ridden, and don’t even display correctly. I don’t use Outlook, I use Thunderbird.

    Microsoft has always been retarded when it comes to things like this.

    Maybe this is where Thunderbird overthrows Outlook for non-work users?

  • John

    The EU has told MS they should not bundle technologies, and MS has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for non compliance. So if HTML e-mail is of value to the recipient (and based on this discussion, that’s debateable) then the door is open for competitors. At this point, the trend of this discussion seems to be that while this decision an affront to those who professionally design HTML e-mail for others, it is viewed as somewhat positive by those who simply consume e-mail.

    I think there has been an opportunity for a while to develop forms technologies using HTML e-mail, that has been ignored in favor of proprietary technologies such as Acrobat. It’s a pity that there was not more widespread respect for the platform, rather than it becoming a launchpad and primary vector for unwanted spam.

  • M$ Hater

    And I thought Linux would bring M$’s demise. I think Ballmer & Co. have the task well in hand.

    Don’t have to worry about an iceberg, the ship already has a hole.

  • Torgie

    “I think this is a great move. I’m sick and tired of html email and hopefully this will reduce the number of people that think its cool to put html, background images, and all that other crap in an email.”

    Wow, I can smell the viral marketting from here. I have been researching this topic, maybe a half-dozen of these blogs, and right around Jan. 13, 6am, the comments sections get inundated with the same rhetoric : “Email is for text, if you want to get all creative, use webpages!”

    Honestly? Really? I swear I’ve seen exact copies and pastes from one blog to the other as I read up on this issue. “Viral Marketting” – it’s sick.

  • Michael Young

    Poor decision? Absolutely. I’d much rather they strip out html altogether and revert all email to plaintext (html email is the debbil), but this middle ground hack job just annoys me, as does incompetence in general.

  • whiny

    awww everyone keep whining about how much they hate MS. Guess what people, they are not stupid I’m sure something will come about to fix this… Hasn’t anyone learned that yet?

  • Simple Solution

    Render your whole layout and content as a .jpg Heh heh.

  • Captain Obvious

    Those who use Microsoft products deserve the lousy performance, security and heinous lock-in that they deserve.

    In my view, only the abysmally clueless use Outlook in any incarnation.

    If your corporate standard demands it, let the IT department pay the toll in man-hours and hair pulling. It’s overhead, and Microsoft is making you pay it. If the PHBs specify such a terrible platform, they should be made to bear the brunt of the cost in dollars and pain.

    Funny, I don’t have these problems on OS X and Linux. What is it that I know, which you don’t?

  • marc

    @torgie: first, i don’t think you understand what viral marketing is.

    Second, have you considered that this might be a digg/etc. effect? E.g., I was linked to this page from digg and left my HTML-mail hatred comment. If this site links to any other blogs discussing the same thing I would probably also chime in there about my profound hatred for HTML mail.

    I imagine that there are two communities commenting here. One is the designer community that reads these blogs on a general basis, and probably is concerned about the negative effects on their design efforts. The other community has been brought here from Digg/etc. and is mostly techy-type people who hate HTML mail.

  • A different Tom

    Weirdly enough, the only HTML email that I look forward to is my monthly here’s-some-news-and-cool-links from MSDN.

  • Tom

    P.S.: Sounds to me like the first real improvement in Outlook ever!!!

  • Mal

    Seems like a good thing to me. I dislike HTML email profusely and forcing spammers / marketers to start producing ‘lite’ HTML newsletters is a step in the right direction – they’ll have to change if they have any common sense.

    Emails should be text only, if you want send extra stuff then either link to a website or add it as an attachment.

  • Michael

    PS. I’m not a part of some pervasive anti-html email conspiracy, nor involved in any way with a group performing viral marketing to achieve such goals.


  • Brian

    This is the best news I’ve heard from MS in a long time. Using IE in any form has always been a major security hole. The fact that a user had to use it, just to use Outlook, only made that worse. This is a great step forward, and also neccessary for their anti-trust issues.

    Why do you assume that someone should have to have IE installed to view your ads? Personally I don’t want “webpages” in my inbox. Send me a nicely formatted LETTER, fine, but if you want me to see a CSS formatted webpage… include a link. Corporately I user Opera and Firefox, as well as Outlook. I love the fact that now IE won’t be sneaking in through Outlook.

  • Gene

    It’s funny that there’s so many HTML email haters that read & respond on a blog about HTML email… I bet you bash it here but take money to build them don’t you…

    As for M$, this is a lame move, just like every lame move they’ve made the past 10 years. They can only copy other innovations and days of them innovating are long gone. What do you expect?

    I’ve always said that you should design your HTML emails as old school as possible, I know tables & in-line styles suck, but you almost have to use those techniques all the time now anyways, so your cover the bases, don’t you?

  • mk

    just curious, i keep seeing all these ’email is just for text’ messages but ummm where is that written? At one time all a web page contained was some text and maybe a .gif image or two. Were you upset when more graphics and formatting were added to webpages also?

  • Mav7469

    You know that there is a version called Outlook 2003, right??? All of your information is from a blogger. How can you be so stupid. I suppose you believe that the licensing in Microsoft Vista can not be transfered to another computer as well. You are an idiot. The reason that the rendering is now done in Word 2007 and not Internet Explorer is because it is required by LAW. That is right. This is what you get from the DOJ going after Microsoft as a monopoly. Microsoft Outlook can no longer assume that Internet Explorer is even loaded on a machine. That is number one.
    Number two is that Microsoft has upgraded the HTML and CSS rendering to Microsoft word to “mimic” Internet Explorer. This way, Microsoft Office can be considered a “separate and different stand alone” product.
    Maybe you should do a little more homework if you want to be considered a journalist instead of a one-sided blogger.

  • BrettFromTibet

    To hell with Microsoft! As a web developer who cries in trying to make things
    work in IE… I say they are the worst software company in the history of the world.

    They day they file for bankruptcy I will joyfully celebrate.

    JUST SAY NO to WORD / IE / Outlook / Windows!

    Only the designers / developers have the power to stop this.

    NO MORE IE / Outlook hacks!

  • John Gladden

    Blame the right people here.

    The SPAMMERS, NUKERS, and SCRIPT KIDDIES that constantly assault people’s inboxes.

    It’s so easy to bash Microsoft and call for their demise. Might as well down all the power stations in the world too, because of their “negative environmental impact”.

    Use your head. If you’re bored enough to have to point a finger at someone and blame them for all your problems, at least have the common sense to make sure you’re pointing at the right person.

  • Ernie Oporto

    Don’t care. Don’t use Outlook.

  • mshater

    Microsoft? Do something stupid? That’s unpossible..

  • Webjedi

    I have used Outlook 2007 for a few months and noticed nothing strange in my emails. And I must say I support the “no background image in table” as that’s the way all my spam images arrive now adays. I guess if I was an “email” designer I’d be upset by any limitation set on me – but as an end user I’ve noticed no issues.

  • Jordan

    It’s just another Microsoft Suicide Note (MSN). If they wish to continue doing this, people will stop using their products. They aren’t complying with establish standards, and that will lead to the adoption of other products to fill the gaps they’ve created for themselves.

  • senIxon

    Try Downloading Images, click the text at the top… “Click here to download. To help protect your privacy… “

    Still looks odd?

  • Aen Tan

    I design emails from time to time and I have to say I’m frightened by this news.
    My already deep hate for microsoft retards just got deeper.

    This should be let known to all others.

    I hope the world start using Apple Mail by buying Macs or other better email clients like Thunderbird for the PC.


  • Lalalalala

    I know what you can all do. You can just shut up and wear it. Microsoft has an email monopoly to support you know? You can’t very well expect them to sit back and just watch as open source exchange replacements are being developed. The obvious solution is to make the client as proprietary as inhumanely possible. I say three cheers for the master.

  • Lalalalala

    Ooh, they could rename it I-email for ironic effect.

  • cc

    Just like my Magic 8-ball used to say:

    Outlook not so good

  • Xman

    I use outlook – it’s fine. Particularly because it lets me delete all mail that has HTML in it automatically.

    Plain text or I won’t look at it.

  • Albert

    If you have to create your email to support a wide range of clients, including webmail, you wind up using a lot less than what Microsoft supports. GMail, Yahoo and Hotmail all have different requirements from application-based email clients, since they actually rewrite (mangle?) your HTML/CSS for presentation purposes.

    It’s really not that bad, people. Just use some common sense and test the hell out of it. And always remember to include a text-based version for the Luddites who are scared of moving past 1992.

  • Vince

    Then stick with Outlook 2000. You don’t need to use 2007 if it sucks.

  • relativ

    Another option is to use the awesome email program, Foxmail. It uses IE to render and has tons of other great features.. easy to backup.. you can just move the whole folder to another system and fire it up… all your mail is there.

    It has its origins in China, but is fully functional in English.

    Get the English version here..



  • Biff

    Dave, umm…
    You will still get HTML, just crappier HTML! why would you applaud this?

  • Dave M.

    Others have stated it here. However, I’m going to ask if you have seen Leopards support for Mail.app?

    Background graphics, HTML stationary, etc… Looks like Microsoft is trying to distance itself from Apple by stepping backwards instead of forwards. :)

  • Mike

    We do both text and html emails at my work for Fortune 500 companies. Were pretty strict on what the guts of our emails have. Everything is HTML 4. Full table based designs *no CSS* because so many email programs strip it out.

    We have a hard enough time developing websites for IE6 and IE7. And now we have to deal with a Word based rendering engine for Outlook 2007 emails! Why even bother allowing html then?!?! You’ve effectively crippled any layout that needs to have text on top of a background! Doh! Didn’t think about that did ya?!?!

  • Vidar

    Wow, this is brilliant!

    Now that the poor IE developers have finally plugged “all” (*cough*) the security holes in their HTML engine, Outlook switches to the much less tested Word engine. Brilliant. I envision a horde of new exploits, worms and trojans popping up in no time. Time to buy anti-virus company shares?

  • coolsax

    Funny to hear all these platitudes like:
    “Email is for text” & “HTML is for webpages”
    Who made those rules or limitations. Think about it, e-mail (or electronic mail) is just another way of sending information. If you want to compare it to regular snail mail, even snail mail includes differents fonts of text, different background and images for logos and such. Email used to be just text because that was all the medium could provide at the time. Times have changed. HTML is a markup language for (guess what) text. Why not use it for rendering text in emails. Seems only natural. Why should it be limited to the “the web”.
    All this is beside the point anyway. This step isn’t getting rid of HTML emails, it just makes it so you are forced to use antiquated means of creating them that are poorly structured and slower to render. It also means that these poorly designed HTML emails will be more widespread.
    Just a though.

  • Nick

    “I’d also love to know how float and position impacts the security of an email in any way.”

    Spammers use floating text to obfuscate words to avoid spam filters, so it is a security feature. I’m no Microsoft fan but I’m glad they’ve done this… who needs all that fancy html in an email anyway… no-one except spammers and advertisers. I agree with Nate above that text and basic html is fine for sending someone an email.

  • Windows Hater

    Microsoft Sucks!

  • Justin Beasley

    As a webmaster in charge of maintaining our large e-mail list, this is a crippling blow to us. Microsoft has to understand this, because I just checked all of their e-mails that they send me and even they won’t render correctly in Outlook 2007!

    Someone needs to start a petition to get them to change it.

    And regardless of whether or not you like HTML e-mail, when a user opts-in to a mailing and chooses to recieve that mailing via a produced HTML e-mail, we as web professionals are required to deliver a good product. If the user opts-in to a plaintext mailing, then we are to still deliver the best overall layout that we can in the best interest of our users.

    Being unable to render decent HTML e-mails will cripple our field . . . and regardless of what Microsoft says about security, I would trust the IE7 engine more than the Word engine any day. The IE7 engine is more frequently updated, better tested, and more highly critisized by outside security firms–making it a much better choice in that area.

  • Tom Chi

    I worked on Outlook 2007 when I was at Microsoft, and I can answer some of your questions. Older versions of Outlook supported a variety of editing/rendering/viewing technologies for the composing and reading of email. In Outlook 2007 this was consolidated to use the Word engine as you have noted. Given the timing of the releases and the way that IT departments deploy Office, it wouldn’t be feasible to automatically move people to the more secure IE7 at the point that Office is deployed. It would create too large a barrier to entry to have to make both changes at once.

    In terms of security and stability, IE6 did have a host of unsavory interactions with Outlook. IE-related components appeared often as a source of Outlook instability, and a good number of IE-centered vulnerabilities transferred over to the product as well (despite significant anti-phishing and beacon-blocking efforts).

    Anyhow, I know that doesn’t fix any of the issues you listed, but at least it gives you background as to why this path was taken. Clearly the team doesn’t “hate” its customers, but in software as in many things, there are trade-offs to make (especially for products that have 10 years of legacy). Perhaps this trade-off was a mistake. Regardless, thanks for your writeup.

  • Kylie Manders

    I have never noticed this problem and have been using Office 2007 for 6 months!

    Dude I think you are confused!

  • Thomas in Tasmania

    WoW! Yes, you are right!

    Why should anybody have the choice to create and broadcast standards compliant HTML-based email to their online community or audience?

    Yes, lets all give thanks for Outlook 2007. . . another “Anti-Innovation” brought to you by MS.

    Hmmmm . . . . I wonder how the iPhone’s (or whatever name the lawyers give it) hand-held MUA will compare to MS’s “new” flagship desktop mail client in terms of embracing standards and delivering a powerful and satisfying experience for both users and designers?

    Errrr. . . . can’t wait for that “Zune-phone”, eh?

  • Ian Pitts

    Wow… what a bunch of DIGG trolls here. I guess you all read your email the command line in Unix as well?

    The fact remains that for legitimate businesses, HTML emails just perform better with the highly interactive and profoundly visual computer user base of today.

    Spammers will continue to send their huge image containing text about the latest penny-stock and it will work just fine in Outlook 2007. Sadly, those of us wanting to communicate with our customers and prospects as efficiently as possible will no longer be able to have our emails render correctly most of the time…

  • Ryan

    When I’m sending email LETTERS I like to have everything in plane text.

    But when I’m receiving marketing emails, my Amazon update/suggestion email for example I want an easy to read and quick to view layout. It’s far easier to read an email such as the amazon suggestion email in styled HTML format then it is to scroll through plane text trying to figure out what the heck they’re saying.

    The simple fact is plane text is good for email letters, html is good for email marketing. If spammers use use html/css to get their stuff to you then it’s the spam blocker that needs improving no the html removing.

    It appears many people here are to ignorant to understand this.


  • Ted

    I agree with you Jeff. basic HTML is fine.

    CSS is an abomination. Just use Bitmap graphics if you want pixel perfect graphics. CSS is ‘cheap tricks’. Just make an image, you don’t need ‘smoothed text’ just anti-alias the text in your image.

    Images work fine, just no more junk. I’m loving this.

  • Bubby

    Anyone want to start a quick voting system for each post here? Simple – Post the posters name and put “Designer/Marketer” or “IT” to identify them.

    Point is – there are two camps – almost ALWAYS will be. Stop the black and white and realize we both need to co-exist.

  • penduin

    Never underestimate the counterproductiveness of Microsoft. I personally don’t like or use HTML in my email but honestly, this is just stupid. If they’re that scared about inheriting IE’s insecurity, maybe they should, I don’t know, try to make IE more secure? And, “consistency”? Are they joking?

    …Why does everyone use Microsoft’s crap, again? It never fails to baffle me. Supporting their platforms is the bane of existence for programmers and publishers everywhere. Add up all the time everybody’s wasted with workarounds and other nonsense because of Microsoft’s incompetence and you’d have enough man-years to switch an enormous number of people away from those platforms and onto something that’s actually useful.

  • Frank

    It’s because of moves like this that I will continue to proclaim that Microsoft sucks. They’re a member of the W3C, but they only support bits and pieces of accepted HTML and CSS standards. It’s bad enough they they make up their own HTML/CSS rules for IE. I’d rather they didn’t support HTML at all than “slightly” support it like this.

  • RZ

    Yes, it wil help stop HTML email.

    The worse HTML email support gets, the less people will use it.

  • Frank

    Google, if you’re listening, the time is now. Kill Microsoft now. Do it for the people.

  • Grayson Stebbins

    I’m relatively confident Microsoft has mostly good intentions. I really think they just. don’t. get it. It’s sad, looking down on MS land – they live in their own world.

  • lel

    Continue using CSS. Information and presentation should be separated anyway (see csszengarden). If anything, the outlook2007-screenshot above shows that even if it doesn’t understand one bit of the CSS-design it is still readable.

    (according to firebug, I get a JS-error for every keystroke)

  • Porter

    For consumers who want only plain-text email, configure your email client to do that. Hoping that this will mean less HTML email is a hope that will never be fulfilled – HTML emails sells products, thus it’s here to stay. We’re not going to start seeing text-only TV commercials. Besides, some commercials we like, same with HTML email. Depends on the quality and relevance.

    This just seems lazy by MS. If this is for anti-trust reasons, geez, use an open source rendering engine in Outlook. You’ll make friends.

    For those who say HTML does not belong in HTML, I say you’re wrong. HTML is a language meant to create well-structured *documents*. Emails are documents every bit as much as a web site is. Someone sending HTML that is inappropriate for the email medium (i.e. “a fully-functional web site”) does not mean all good (i.e. modern, standards-compliant) email should be punished. Bad solution (actually, a non-solution) to a real problem. Seems the real solution would be that ol’ marketplace thing: if you don’t like the email… unsubscribe.

  • Robert

    I hate to have to say this, but I would ban HTML email completely if I was given the chance.

    Having managed a few email systems, all I can say is that HTML mail is more trouble than it’s worth. Thunderbird handles HTML much better, and importantly – more safely. However, whilst Outlook remains the dominant email client, I would avoid HTML mail at all costs.

  • Blake

    I agree with Robert. I despise HTML emails, they just create problems. If you can’t do it with text, do it in an attachment.

  • jhn

    I’m not sure that Word’s HTML engine is worse. It might mangle some stuff pretty badly but IE has always been bad at CSS. It mangles the Acid test. Word might display some other content better than IE.

  • Ryan

    Living in the past and not progressing is evil, if you want that then stop using teh interweb!

    html looked shit in it’s early years and had people proclaiming all sites should be plane text only (since that is what HTML was designed for)…would we have what we have today if morons like that got their way? html emails suck because spam blockers are substandard and email clients such as Outlook are usless.

  • Zal

    I stopped using IE6 a year ago, making FireFox my default browser.
    At least for the last 3 months I using almost exclusively Opera.
    It’s much more superior to both FF and IE. Not only the browser is a few generations ahead of the rest, but the nicely integrated email client is superior and pleasure to use.
    I encourage everybody to use Opera. You’ll be glad.

    Now, if you want a secure email solution, forget about OE,Outlook,Thunderbird…
    PocoMail is the answer. Like Opera, it’s a few generation ahead of all the rest.
    It’s not free though, but $40 to pay, it’s a tiny price to have peace of mind and enjoy the effectiveness of this program with tons of features.
    Another good one, free, Pegasus, which is also much more superior than Outlook and thunderbird.

  • KW

    My problem with HTML emails:

    They are an unsolicited use of my bandwidth. They tie up my down pipe, they fill my inbox to overflowing and cause me to miss important emails. And I have no choice. The email comes to my address, down my pipe and into my inbox before I can say “Ni!”.

    I cannot stop it from being delivered. I can only delete it after the fact. After it has used my pipe. After it has landed on my drive.

    I should be able to CHARGE such emailers a fee. I’d be RICH!

    There may be some legitimate senders of HTML emails out there, but for every legitimate sender, there are 10 illegitimate senders who think I want to buy Viagra, or enlarge my breasts or genitals, or am a stocks day trader, or am gullible enough to fall for nigerian bank fraud schemes.

    If email were plain text I’d still get all of those. But they wouldn’t be accompanied by 100K of .jpgs apiece.

  • Ben

    Who at microsoft can we email our complaints to about this, to convince them to revert back to using IE as the outlook rendering engine?

  • Bart

    Yeah, well.. at least Office 2007 has significant usability changes… But it’s really unbelievable then even some very vital parts of CSS v1 are missing. I’m sure someone will find a patch (perhaps write a virus? =) to adjust Outlook ’07 back to IE bahaviour.

  • jyhm

    I think one really needs to ditch microsoft products all together. Caveat I say this as I am trying to reinstall Office 2004 (it’s Dead). But, I really don’t need it that much, and I only use Entourage. I have other email apps that are just fine. I never use IE I hate it! I stick with Firefox.

  • get_thunderbird

    There are a lot of Ms alternatives:


    So, we might as well stop using Ms completely.

  • LC

    For those who want only text emails :

    As a website designer, I frequently send emails describing the websites I develop with snippets of screens in them. It makes it far easier if the user has the image of the screen next to the descriptive text, rather than a “look at this attachment”, which has probably been blocked by their corporate firewall anyway.

    I like HTML mails, I rarely read any text-only mails. Call me boring.

    I hate the spam mails but are we going to stay back in the days of GOPHER and stick to text only web as well?

    MS are cutting their own throat with this. I personally don’t like firefox, I find it clumsy and cumbersome, but hey. each to their own. Well it looks like I’ll stick to XP and Outlook 2003 myself, it does all I and my customers need it to do.

    “Shall I upgrade to Vista” they ask. What’s the point …
    “Shall I upgrade Office” they ask. No.

  • Standarshy

    Yay, this is good news for me. It will just push more people to adopting Mozilla’s thunderbird. Unless people are too stupid to figure it out.

    If people do really mind this and switch to Thunderbird, I’m sure that Microsoft will do something. Remember the browser wars?

  • Andrew

    The point isn’t that HTML emails are good/bad/fine. The point is that limited support for them is bad either way.

  • Leckie

    This must be because of anti trust issues, there is no way microsoft would intentionally throw themselves in the shitter like this… is there?

  • Montoya

    The comments in this thread are horrendous. Something like 100 or so of “HTML emails suck!” and another 50 of “you guys suck, get a real job!”

    I can’t believe everyone is complaining about spam and phishing e-mails… Campain Monitor doesn’t send spam ever, they are a legitimate business. If you want to complain about spammers, do it somewhere else!

    Also, the idea of going back to the dark ages of plain-text e-mails just because HTML opens up the opportunity for exploits is a bit backwards. We should be finding ways to stop spam so we can enjoy HTML e-mail without the risks. It’s the difference between being poor so no one can rob you or locking up your stuff so no one can rob you.

    As was mentioned earlier, this move from Microsoft does not end HTML e-mails, just makes them more cluttered, more bandwidth-heavy and more difficult to use. It may prevent some exploits that spammers use to trick users, but spammers will still find other ways to trick users… this move by Microsoft is not a good solution.

  • Atanas Entchev

    Pine still works… ;)

  • matthew smith

    I wish I could have been there to help you pick up things off the floor. I would have taken you to get a beer and we could co-miserate together. Thank you for an intelligent and helpful critique. I know many who would have simply ranted.

    If you have not already read through Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke, I suggest it. It details issues about allowing the reality that using products like what Microsoft is pouring into the industry could begin to be seen as a limited product rather than limiting the industry.

    Perhaps we need to do a better job of encouraging more and more people about the alternatives, albeit an extremely uphill battle. If you drive a fiesta (outlook), you’ll likely not go very far, very fast. Alternatively, if you drive a Jetta (mail osx, firebird, etc) you’ll enjoy your driving experience a whole lot more, and you might enjoy it enough to go for a drive in the country (get creative with html emails).

    Best of luck…

  • Alistair Holt

    Microsoft’s actions are just absolutely ridiculous. I will be persuading everyone I know not to use Outlook.

    Down with Microsoft!

  • Dimitris

    Well, apart from many of the reasons already noted, this Microsoft approach serves well yet another purpose. Breaking community standards is what this company has been doing for decades in order to establish their monopoly on the market. Now they are suggesting that in order to view a non plain ascii email you need their MS Word engine. This means less choices for people: “You want to do a job? Do it the MS way that only MS products offer!”. Got the point?

    Someone already said (quite correctly if this is true) that since IE is splitting from the windows shell, you need another way of displaying html. Well, it seems that their office suite is just replacing IE…

    So, since most people use and trust Microsoft products they must be satisfied with what they get (i am referring to sane people). If not, they would have moved from MS years ago (as i did). No reason to complain then. You like MS products/tactics, cool, go ahead and use their software. If you complain you must show this to MS by stop paying them. Simple as that.

  • Omar

    I am not sure what I missed here. I have been using outlook 2007 for a month and I can send and receive HTML e-mails with no problem.
    it is a supported feature in Outlook 2007. where did this news come from???

    Check out the outlook site:

  • Archee

    Personally I liked HTML mailing. (it was first introduced by Natscape) The possible reason for not fully supportong HTML is to make way for MS WORD.DOC format mailing in the next step. This will be quite handy to answer mails in, but others systems and mail softwares will be ruled out, as reverse engineering (of .DOC file format) is illegal in most countries. (very bad monopoly!!!!)
    However I think MS producst are well organized, and less troublesome to use then linux.

  • Sam Hiser


    This is a good get!

    Maybe the reason is non-obvious unless you’ve been fighting in the trenches for a while against Microsoft’s file format standardization initiative.

    The reason for putting Word in Outlook is because they are losing control of their binary documents formats. ODF is doing well and they believe that by introducing the XML-based format (“Microsoft Office Open XML”) in Office2007 that their control of users’ data as well as their upgrade decisions are slipping. Old habits die hard and they have still found many ways to make this XML implementation a non-standard through binary carry-forward and a lot of proprietary and legal strategic dependicies & FUD.

    They’re decision clearly is to shift the control-points of the business processes away from Office and into e-mail and Sharepoint.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Axel in Montreal

    I just cannot wait for Google to come with an alternative OS. Google makes excellent products: Picasa, World, toolbar, etc. they have the resources and the brain, but then Google can be quite weird and implement alternatives whose only merit is being different (to wit, no sorting in GMail).

    Pliz pliz Googie, get an OS out, and deliver us from evil, amen!

  • Paula

    If I wanted to see plain text, I’d still use a typewriter with Courier font and plain white paper to send letters to my friends. Thank God we’ve evolved since then…

    I prefer a little style and flair in the e-mails I receive — most plain text e-mails are ugly and easy to ignore. I work for a nonprofit advocacy group with several HTML e-newsletters (no, not everyone who uses them is a spammer), and the better the design, the more opens we have, the more compliments we receive, and the more money we raise. Is that such a terrible thing?

  • Dan Forster

    If you think this is a good move, please read the following carefully. Please.

    It comes down to the web as a medium, and email as a medium.

    A move towards open standards led us to CSS, which was a key player in starting a revolution in content-centricity and usability on the web. Great design.

    If a decent fraction of the market end up going with Outlook 2007, which is likely to happen, Microsoft has single-handedly crushed any chance of innovation in email as a medium.

    That means more crappy HTML emails, made by non-designers, coming your way.

    This is the worst decision Microsoft has ever made.

  • Nick

    How many people over their life have purchased the same make of car due to habit? Then if that car maker were to downgrade the engine or remove features that you rely on…..you’d likely go and buy a car from a different car maker wouldn’t you? The same SHOULD be said for software!…but its not.

    People really need to consider that Microsoft is kicking everyone in the guts……there are alternatives!

  • Jeffrey

    Are most of the complainers on this list e-mail marketers? What a bunch of cry babies. Bush is getting ready to invade Iran and Syria (if he hasn’t already) and you’re acting like the world has imploded over this HTML issue. Grow the fuck up.

  • asdf

    Taking out IE from Outlook IS A GOOD THING!! IE has been the most bug ridden piece of software MS has ever released, tons of viruses and worms have propagated by email thanks to its flaws. This move will ultimately make outlook much more secure. I can’t believe there are actually people complaining.

  • Ulf Dahlen

    I welcome this. I’m constantly encouraing people to stop using Microsoft products; this gives me yet another good sales pitch!

  • Jakk

    Why stil waste your time complaint on this company.

    Switch to a MAC and you’ll never have any problem again.


  • Perk

    Frankly, I’d rather my email be text. Anything SENT to me needs to be consistently readable be it in pine, Thunderbird, or on my three year old cell phone. I couldn’t care less about Cascading Style Sheets or even HTML.

    If I actually want rich content pushed to me I’ll darn well subscribe to the RSS feed and click on the link, and let it render where it’s supposed to render – in my browser.

  • Ryan

    We should all head over to the MS Outlook 12 Blog http://blogs.msdn.com/willkennedy/ and let them know what we think!

  • raeinbow

    Very interesting and quite passionate responses.
    I know at work people are pretty stuck using Outlook, but why people bother with it at home is beyond me. I’m not much of a email junkie.
    If it isn’t online webmail, forget it.
    I like yahoo and hotmail because it doesn’t just download onto my computer. I don’t get the whole “email program” thing. I am, apparently, a dunce. Only recently have I come to the realization that people actually “save” their old email. Why?

    The HTML email format argument is silly. I know plain text email is a very viable option. However, for everyone screaming it is the only way to go and that HTML-email is evil… well, you’re being being stupid.

    HTML email makes LINKS possible. I don’t want to paste and copy links, I want to right-click and open it in a new window. (yahoo lets me just click it). And images are necessary. Grandma wants pictures. If you can’t see why people need HTML emails, then, it tells the rest of us you are a lonely person with no family. Boo hoo for you. Get off the soapbox and get over it.
    As for any spammers who may have posted, stop it. Everyone hates you.
    What would be cool is if there was an option like CraigsList uses, where it indicates there is a “pic” in the message.

  • talya


    We just got the email marketing side of our business going this summer and now it’s all down the toilet as the industry changes again. What a waste — so much for industry standard.

  • FatHed

    I like text, html email just means fluff for the sake of fluff.

  • Viv

    Once again, Microsoft has screwed us web developers over with their misuse of power. I thought headaches like box model issues and stuff like that would finally star fading away and they come up with this…. sigh

  • Ike

    I can’t believe the puffed up opinions in here. A crowd of Luddites, with pitchforks.

    I am fairly new at crafting HTML e-mails. It is strictly for an internal corporate audience. We can’t post the stuff on a public web server, because there is proprietary information involved.

    I’ve done usability testing and gathered feedback, and I have found that overwhelmingly I get more clickthroughs on key newsletter items in my HTML e-mails than in plain text or pdf files.

    Of course, I fully expect to be shouted down by little script-kiddies and their holier-than-thou attitudes. Just know that I deal with an audience that is completely internal, and completely opt-in. And now I will have to push important information to them in ways that are less effective.

  • rend

    Is this done to coerce folks to buy the latest version of word/office?

  • Jean

    For me this all comes down to choice. Yes we all dislike spam…but to have plain text or pretty graphics should still be YOUR CHOICE! You want plain text…tell the email client you only want plain text. I happen to enjoy my “graphical” newsletters because this is what I choose to do to stay up on the things I need to be able to go over in a glance. Stylizing the email helps.

    What I see is Microsoft again removing any chance at the user being able to decide what he/she wants. I hate that more.

    After 20 years of the Microsoft PC (and the frustration of limitations, security, and let’s not even mention the $$$$…bought a MAC 4 months ago. Thanks Apple, at least you know the user can think for themselves, and are confident enough to understand choice not exclusion.

  • Sprocket999

    Wow. What a stunner. We do a fair bit of this for our clients (who wish to engage other business clients direct — sorry text loving ’60s hippies & retro grouches, this doesn’t include you!) as an addition to our advertising and site design. I guess the only good news is we use tables and light css. I will need to see how badly our work falls apart in this 2007 environment.

  • Anonymous

    This is why i hate microsoft!
    I switched to mac 5 years ago and havn’t looked back

  • Sprocket999

    Yup, MS sux alright. Major-time.

  • mattman1624

    Have never used Outlook, and I’ve never seen the use for it. I just deal with my email on Earthlink’s server.

  • Paula

    If I wanted to see plain text, I’d still use a typewriter with Courier font and plain white paper to send letters to my friends. Thank God we’ve evolved since then…

    I prefer a little style and flair in the e-mails I receive — most plain text e-mails are ugly and easy to ignore. I work for a nonprofit advocacy group with several HTML e-newsletters (no, not everyone who uses them is a spammer), and the better the design, the more opens we have, the more compliments we receive, and the more money we raise. Is that such a terrible thing?

  • David

    one thing you people are forgetting is that we are all computer neerds and geeks responding to this, the average joe , beyond spam enjoys emails with images in them. I can tell you every time my wife opens an email from target or viccky secrect or lan bryant and run out the door with a coupon =)

    if you dont like html emails configure your client not to show them or switch to something else. other wise stay on topic, this isnat a debate whether you like html emails or not, its a fact of a choice being eliminated, and for what…

  • Nick Hebb

    This is incomprehensible. I send out a newsletter discussing business diagramming (flow charts, value stream maps, etc.). While I can appreciate that some people like plain text emails, when visitors subscribe to my newsletter it’s pretty well understood that the subject will be graphical.

  • Rajiv
  • Darren

    Someone said that Microsoft aren’t stupid! Well if they’re so clever why the hell did they do this in the first place?!

    Hopefully this will result in a downward turn for MS, here’s to Apple, Mozilla and all the other forward thinking companies!

  • sili

    OK, that’s bad. But who does use HTML mails? I know there are much out there… An email is a message, text. If any you just need the simplest formatting. Do you really use float and other in *mails*?

    Personally, I hate HTML mails.

  • chris

    Microsoft Products: Just Say No!

  • Bill NZ

    I have to say, 90% of the comments on here just don’t get what this article was about. Most of the comments on here come from 2 erroneous assumptions:

    1. HTML email = spam and that all “email designers” are spammers.

    2. “If you don’t like it, use (place favourite OSS mail client here)”

    The first statement is wrong because, let face it, spammers don’t care if the email get mangled by the email client, as most of them just include a single image and link now. This is real “spam” and spam is UNSOLICITED commercial email. I am an “email designer” and it’s a real job, with a real purpose. Think about things like ebay alerts. If you want to be alerted when a particular item appears, it would be nice to have the posted image there, so you could see if it was worth going to ebay to vote on. And the “use PDF” solution is even worse, as a PDF attachement is a much larger filesize, meaning more bandwidth costs for both the sender and reciever, plus longer download times for the email client.

    The company I work for only deal with reputable companies, and we state that we will only send emails to people who requested them. If they want to spam, then they can find someone else to do it. Also, for all our emails we send out, we offer the choice of HTML or plain text. Only around 5% ever opt for plain text only emails.

    This brings me to the second fallacy that “you should just switch, MS sucks anyway”. Well, that’s not gonna help us. We send out quite a few corporate emails, and our clients don’t care that MS is screwing us up. They just want the email to look the same as it always has. And that means me and everyone in my business sector have to work that much harder to meet the requirements of our job. Also, as mentioned a few times, this isn’t going to stop HTML emails. It just means that the HTML emails will look like dog turd. And we are the ones who have to deal with it, not MS. Personally, I think they just hate designers because historically designers have used Apple products. It’s a “screw the Apple crowd” mentality. That would explain the state of IE for the past 10 years. And just when things got better for us in one area, they screw us in another.

    By the way, HTML email isn’t the primary vector for viruses in email. It’s attachments. And you can have a virus filled attachment just as easily in plain text. Also, it’s easier to embed malicious code into Word than it is into HTML. So, as far as I know, MS just made the virus writer’s job easier.

    And if it were for security reasons, IE supposedly just got more secure. Does MS not trust themselves?

    And the “antitrust” thing doesn’t hold either. It’s easy to have just the rendering engine as part of the email client, and not have to “assume” its on the computer. You don’t need firefox installed on your computer for Thunderbird to work, do you? And you could make it even more secure by not allowing ActiveX and scripting on this stripped down version. This would make more sense for both security AND aesthetics.

    Unfortunately, most of the comments on here are from narrow minded people who think that the way they want things is the best and only way and anyone who thinks different is an idiot. To me, all the “text only email” comments sound like they should all go and work for MS and make sure that choice and freedom in computing is totally taken out of the “ignorant masses” hands.

  • bob

    that does it..i’m gettin a mac, and telling my nana to do the same…

  • Sprocket999

    Nothing. Use it. This is about how it will impact the design business. Re-read “Bill NZ” above.

  • Andreas

    I don’t understand the problem. In my opinion html mails are very bad style. What is so bad about plain-text mails? They are readable everywhere, are more secure and less annoying.

    Use plaintext and standards-compatible mail clients, then you’ll have less problems!

  • AndyC_

    Your html mail will already look awful in Outlook 2003 SP2 anyway because of all the anti-phishing protection and will likely get flagged heavily by anti-spam filters.

    Html was an awful way to do rich text email in the first place and its time to find a better solution.

  • Devin

    It’s just another strike against Microsoft. It seems like their tactic is to throw as much crap against the wall and see what sticks. This is shocking news for me, and it certainly can’t be helpful for CM in any way.

    Keep trucking guys, let us know how we can adjust.

  • Dennis

    Andrew, just to clarify, this doesn’t do anything to stop HTML emails, it simply means many of the emails you receive will be mangled and difficult to read. This will only add to your frustration.

    Dave, well some people such as myself and I assume the person who made this comment, won’t even read an HTML e-mail. I’ll stop being frustrated when people stop sending HTML e-mail at all.

  • Sean

    I’ve created a facebook group for generation y. Join it here. Perhaps the design community can rise up with Campaign Monitor’s message.


  • Wes

    Windows Live Desktop Mail client renders the templates perfectly fine

  • Wes

    The online version of Windows Live Mail also seems to render the sample templates perfectly fine.

  • J

    Following on Bill NZ’s post: All of you who are saying “HTML emails suck, just use text”: Why are you reading a web site called Campaign Monitor? Do you even know what this site is for?

  • dave


    <!–[if gte mso 12]>As Microsoft Outlook 2007 is unable to display HTML emails correctly, we suggest that you
    <a href=”http://www.companyhome.com/newsletters/latest.htm”>Mozilla Thunderbird</a> to view emails safely and easily.

  • Chris

    Phew! What to make of all this? So Outlook 2007 uses Word to render HTML emails instead of IE but Word is not as good at rendering HTML as IE. Hmm…

    I can understand why many developers using this forum will be upset by this but Microsoft professes to *love* developers so it puzzles me that they would do something which risks the wrath of the developer community without good reason.

    Reading the previous comments, I wonder whether it has anything to do with the EU ruling that required MS to unbundle IE from Windows. (Hope I’m getting my facts right here – you remember the EU ruling). Given that Outlook is the dominant e-mail client on Windows PCs and since Office is the dominant personal productivity suite on Windows, if Outlook depends on IE to render an HTML email, then the anti-trust people might cry foul and say that this tantamount to forcing Windows users to use IE and therefore gives IE an unfair advantage over other browsers.

    *Bill NZ* comments above that this should not have stopped MS from using the IE rendering engine in Outlook 2007 but I’m not a technical bod and so cannot comment on the validity of this argument.

    It’s a while since I’ve read such a strong set of reactions as those expressed in this thread. Microsoft will have to address the concerns expressed here which will undoubtedly resurface in their own forums and until they do (if they haven’t already done so), I for one will reserve judgement on this issue.

  • katherine

    I remember in 1993. I was at OSU. I made a page with images and got hatemail from some freak who said I should be shot, that images dont belong on the internet–that the internet was for diseminating information, text only no images.

    I thought he was behind the times and time proved me right. Saying email is for text only is as backwards as saying the internet is for text only.

    Where I work, we marketing with email, so we dont kill trees by flooding snail mail with paper. We used to do “text only” and then we decided to dress it up. Our surveys, and our bottom dollar showed us that the more “graphical” it was, the more our customers were interested in what we had to offer.

    I say boycott Microsoft. and the real reason they did this? because Apple is coming out with a mail program that will let the average user send images and more to friends and family. MS thinks they dominate and they are so afraid of apple getting ahead of them, that instead of trying to catch up..they’d rather send the land of communication back to the dark ages.

    I for one, am glad its not 1993. How boring all that grey was.

  • Rob

    >> Ryan
    >> wrote on January 13, 2007 9:27 AM

    >> When I’m sending email LETTERS I like to have everything in plane text.
    >> …to scroll through plane text trying to figure out what the heck they’re saying.
    >> The simple fact is plane text is good for email letters, html is good for email

    “plane text” – that would be emails composed in an aircraft?

  • Ryan

    I wrote that at about 2am local time after working all day, gimmie a break.

  • Simbad the Sailor

    ManBearPig – wrote on January 14, 2007 3:16 AM

    Seriously, Emails dont need background images and css, just plain text will do, and its a good thing microsoft are removing the ability to “design” emails from outlook.

    Does it take skill to miss the point so badly?

  • digbert

    Get over yourselves – oh MS are bad – oh they should be stopped- oh… grow up – who the hell do you think you are – neo from the matrix for god’s sake. it’s friggin email – designe dto send a text based message for point to point. if you cannot be bothered with messages that don’t come with pictures then go back to where’s wally books you morons.

  • kitten

    Hell, anything that makes it harder or more obnoxious for users to send HTML email is a good thing in my book. Aside from occasional newsletters from legitimate sources, I can’t think of any real use for it. People just muck up emails with inane stationary and colors and other drivel which I don’t want to see. If only I could strip HTML at the server level, but alas.

    In the meantime, hopefully some will get annoyed with this move and go back to plaintext.. which is all email really needs to be.

  • Plain Text Dummies

    you “text-only microsoft lovers” are retarded. Ever think that Microsoft themselves promote and use HTML email marketer. Dummies.



  • J√°nos P√°sztor

    Brother, guys, you’re not getting the point. This isn’t going to STOP HTML mail AT ALL. This is just going to break all HTML sent from other clients, especially mailing lists, newsletters and such.

    And try explaining people using Outlook that it’s not your client messing up the mail, but it’s their’s.

    For one, I love The Bat! It has a unique text mail editor/renderer producing REALLY nice text mails. The only drawback is, that it isn’t free. Otherwise, it beats Outlook, Thunderbird and such by ages. Go figure.

  • Pete

    Simply one more reason to not use MS Outbreak.

  • Devz

    How about everyone continue to create CSS based emails regardless.
    Yes its unfortunate that marketing emails wont hit potential customers. But on the flip side im sure existing members/clients will be up in arms when they cannot read their forgotten password automated reply.
    Then hopefully the member/client will turn to Thunderbird. Then the problem is solved.

    Really what needs to happen is a realisation that Microsoft doesnt play by the rules (anti-trust case) and isnt going to listen to users (when have they ever?). Users need to take an active approach in order to prove Microsoft as doing a stupid thing here, and if that means using an unfamiliar email client, until they realise their wrong doing and apply a ‘css patch’, so be it.

    The power of users is choice, not complaining and wishful letters to billgates@microsoft.com, its in getting on with whats necessary.. leaving Microsoft behind if need be.

  • John S. Jacob

    1) To those spouting insults to anyone and everyone who sends HTML email. Shame on you. I’m disappointed to see this level of discourse. Just because HTML is used in spam doesn’t mean every message with HTML is spam. Check your logic.

    2) I find many plain-text-only email arguments absurd. I think email was created using plain-text because of the technical limitations at the time. If the electronic equipment at the time could have supported richer email (e.g., structure and graphics) at a reasonable cost, I strongly believe the implementors would have tried to build it. When I read plain-text proponents, I think they are fetishizing a cost/benefit decision made a long time ago.

    3) Reading arguments against HTML in email in an HTML-implemented forum reminds me of the Star Trek (the old series) episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”: specifically the scene where the Enterprise crew learns that the only difference between the warring factions is the polarity (my term, not the script’s) of the black/white body coloring. Yes, I know difference between HTML tunneled through SMTP and HTML tunneled through HTTP. But to outsiders I bet it doesn’t look like any difference at all.

    John S. Jacob * jsjacob@iamnota.com * http://www.iamnota.com * pgp: ac6ace17

  • Rob

    Ok, so your customers install a new Microsoft product and from then on their nice newsletters and commercials turn into poorly rendered crap.
    Should they not compain to Microsoft for this disturbance of their user experience, instead of to the newsletter author?
    Should you be worried as an author?

    It is the user’s decision to install an update, and it is Microsoft’s decision to dumb it down. As an author, I would not be worried. Just post a link to “install Thunderbird” in your newsletters, just like you put “get IE” on your webpages for ages.

  • Mark

    Yes, it is for security – it’s sort of an admission, IMO, that while IE7 may be more secure, it’s not perfect.

    Finally…. “Email designer”? Huh? Ew. I’ll take my emails in plain text, thanks. One of my favorite features of Outlook 2007 (and previous) is that it doesn’t automatically download and render a bunch of gaudy garbage.

  • Simbad the Sailor

    Thank god to Plain Text Dummies, J√°nos P√°sztor, John S. Jacob and a few others for injecting this discussion (not that it’s even a discussion) with some much need intelligence.

    All those clueless anti-html and “html should just be plain text” really need to do some research and actually read the article before shouting out such nonsense.

    Microsoft have not removed HTML email this is NOT GOING TO IMPROVE emailing, this is simply going to make the HTML emails you do receive even worse to look at and no doubt open up MORE SECURITY RISKS.

    Stop living in the dark ages, HTML emails current aren’t so great because companies like MS screwing up the rendering and spam blockers not blocking the spam properly, NOT because HTML in email isn’t any good. But of course the mindless heard will still shout about how much it sucks without putting any thought in to the problem.

    HTML email is here to stay, just like images and styling arrived and stayed with websites. Now that pissed off a lot of people too. *sigh*

  • J√°nos P√°sztor

    Thank you very much, Simbad, for your really offensive post. However, if you’d have taken the pains to read my post carefully, you’d have noticed I was saying the exact same thing.

    Maybe, you’d grace us with honoring other people’s opinion and being polite?

  • Joe

    Haven’t read all the comments but isn’t the Word rendering engine updated for Office 2007?

  • Tom

    I can not understand why Normal Browsers are not compatible at the first place. Now that our designers can finally create compatible designs that are both creative and are CSS based, we have to go back to tables?

    Even mozzilla can run the IE engine, it is so modular. If I were to create a desktop app on Windows, I would not think twice – use the IE ActiveX control, so easy from and programming language. This is why MS made an ActiveX out if it, hmm? Yes.

    So why don’t they use it? if it is not secure or crappy, why do they make a widely used component out of it?

    I may be paranoid, but sometimes I can not decide whether they are evil, stupid or both. And I am an MCSD level developer, also my company is based on .NET, so I am not a MS hater at all, most MS products are my favorites, SQL, ASP, C# etc are cutting edge for me.

    Why do the make me hate them than?

  • J√°nos P√°sztor

    Tom, actually I have been thinking *a lot* about why operating systems never use the MVC approach, separating the working from the view. For some reason, they don’t.

    IMO the anti-trust theory is the most likely one.

  • Jeff

    This is insane? What is Microsoft thinking????

  • MikeTheActuary

    While I do think that some basic HTML email is fine, I will also have to admit that I have yet to encounter a css-dependent email ‘newsletter’ that I actually wanted to receive OR which I didn’t think would be better delivered via RSS.

    I would speculate that the change in OL07 is the result of some secret desire of Microsoft to push folks down the path of RSS-enlightenment…but the lack of an htm previewer in OL07 quickly disabuses me of any such notion.

    While I can empathize with email developers that some of the abuse they’re facing from internet traditionalists is a little unfair… I also think that the days of thinking of email as an acceptable broadcast medium are past.

    Email is being strangulated by the horde of spammers. It’s time to move on to more up-to-date, less-abusable forms of communication.

  • John

    Now that we have this off all our chests, have had a lie down and are starting to feel better, it is time to look ahead. There is a chance here for Campaign Monitor to take industry leadership (okay, okay, even more leadership – grin) and augment their segmentation funtionality to allow us to provide a third format: html, text, and, what for want of a better phrase, degraded-html. This later might be suitable for more than just Outlook 2007. I don’t see any easy way, but for some of us, all the stuff about other clients being better is irrelevant – if the subscribers are using Outlook 2007, we have to deal with it. Put your brilliant thinking caps on, CM!

  • Darius

    I am using Mozilla Thunderbird, so no problem for me :)

  • Larry

    I am tired of reading that email is all about content, and that there is no reason to use HTML design in an email.

    This is short sighted, and shows how some people are completely ignorant.

    Case and point…we have a newsletter with a subscription of about 50,000. We used to send out the newsletter in just a text format. It was hard to read, and hard to segment the various sections of information that allowed the reader to easily disseminate the information. Putting the newsletter in HTML WAS NOT done just to pretty up the newsletter. It was done in such a way as to make it more usable for the reader. Imagine taking a magazine, and telling the publisher that they can only layout the magazine using simple text, with virtually no options for formatting.

    Not everyone uses HTML just to pretty up an email. There are some of us that actually use it to ENHANCE the readability and accessibility of the content.

  • Kai Malloy

    I’ve got five words for everyone: Get Thunderbird! Reclaim Your Inbox

  • deputycleric

    Are we surprised?

    This is the same company whose new version of OWA must run the front-end server on the INTERNAL NETWORK rather than in the DMZ.

    Talk about taking email (and security) design back a few years…

  • Kevin McDonagh

    My god. That really is retarded. Html emails may be annoying but only in their current fashion. Taking away from their capability and ability to expand is ridiculous.

  • Kluster

    you’re right Kevin, it is retarded.. then again microsoft products are made for technologically impaired users. Emails should be text only anyways, so you can read them on your computer, your pda or your cell phone.

    openBSD for servers, linux for desktops, macs for multimedia and windows for solitaire.

  • Bill NZ

    Posted by DJ:
    “And if you’re actually being paid to send HTML mail and you’ve posted here, essentially meaning that you rely on the same type of html/css code for email campaigns as you would a web site, please post your company name, so that those who actually know that the least common denominator is the best way to get your “pretty” email to be seen exactly as designed, can take your clients away for your obvious inexperience.”

    I am actually being paid, and no, I don’t code an email exactly as I would a website. And yes, I am WELL aware of the limitations that GMail (and Hotmail for that matter) impose on designers. But the point is, we should be able to move forward, and most mail clients are moving forward. I was thinking that in 5 years, I would be able to use standards-compliant code after Gmail and Hotmail got their acts together. But now, we have to also cater to the Word rendering engine. This is a step backwards, and not a good trend. It just justifies to the web based email clients that they can keep mangling standards and keeps email in the dark ages. The clients should be getting better as CSS support, not worse. If this were pulled in IE, would you be saying the same thing? That just because there are worse clients out there it’s all good? Or should you be saying “Come on guys, make it easier. We shouldn’t have to hack to get your client to jump through the hoops you made”?

  • Alicia C Simpson

    Clearly Microsoft wants everybody to switch to alternative e-mail clients. The real solution to this is to get HP, Dell, and other computer makers to bundle Thunderbird and Firefox with their PCs and make them the default.

    If they do that IE7 and Outlook 2007 will die a quick death!

  • Bill NZ

    Alicia – I wish, but Outlook is tightly coupled with Exchange Server, and the PIM functions, which Thunderbird doesn’t have, are why businesses choose Exchange Server/Outlook. Unfortunately, as mentioned previously, until a real alternative comes along, we’re stuck with Outlook in business. Maybe if MS keeps it up, a new player like Zimbra will be able to make inroads in the information management space, like Firefox was able to pull people away from IE when MS dropped the ball on that one by pulling crap exactly like this.

  • Balakumar Muthu

    Do still people use Microsoft Outlook and Hotmail?

    Check out one of my Hotmail registration experiences at:


  • Scott Rickma

    OK, I agree that this is a silly situation BUT did we all comment that the anti-trust action against Microsoft would lead to Outlook requiring it’s own rendering engine because IE (and therefore its rendering engine) is not now always going to exist on a windows system? I don’t think so! So given this situation (and it’s not likely to change let’s be honest) what can we (email designers / email system builders) do? Will MIME come to our rescue?

  • Cass

    This is really a bizarre decisision and is like Microsoft are trying to shoot themselves in the foot!

    Our organisation are Lotus Notes users, and while their HTML email rendering is currently very poor, that is about to change. IBM have announced that Lotus Notes 8 uses an embedded browser control to render HTML e-mail (most likely IE on windows, safari on mac, firefox on linux). This means while Notes is finally coming up to date and will have full HTML and CSS support; MS is doing the opposite!

    Chuck in the new and far better looking UI, collaboration tools, Multi-platform/OS support, better security model, and the fact that you will not need to upgrade your hardware to upgrade your notes/domino server and Notes should begin to look like a far more tempting choice for businesses.

    I think there are a lot of things about Exchange and Outlook 2007 that will come back to haunt MS, and this will definitely be one of them!

  • William Hook

    Oh for heaven’s sake. Yay, I can finally have my emails look like complete *insert word here*!

  • bram

    Creating graphicaly nice html-emails has allways been a pain in the ass. If you view the results in different clients it’s never the same. Even between outlook and outlook ecpress.

    But in the years I managed to come up with a sort of working principle for designed html emails. Now, I can start over again.

    I think from now I’ll send a nice looking jpg with headlines written below. Clicking on the headlines will lead the user to the designed html-file somewhere on the web. But first (as allways) I’ll explain to my clients that they need to switch to mozilla products (for pc users).

  • Greg

    I haven’t read through all the comments so excuse me if this has been said…

    If the problem is “anti-trust”, then why do they not build the current IE engine into Outlook and render emails that way? What’s another 50MB in a 2GB install anyway?

    It would make more sense to do that than to set email marketers back a few years. It’s decisions like this that put people off Microsoft products.

  • misterredtape

    Who gives a crap. HTML email sucks. Ever edit HTML email in Outlook 2003? Makes me cry. Even the “paste as text” option is not available in HTML email mode.

    Go cry about something else… like lack of conditional text in Word.

  • misterredtape

    And Thunderbird will continue to suck as long as they ignore the fact that a Calendar is crucial. Don’t talk about Sunbird for godssakes.

  • A.R.Wolff

    Amen, Ratti.

    This has exactly zero impact on people who realize that email is a vehicle for information and not “an experience.” Don’t email me your Web page. Write sufficiently effective copy and I’ll gladly visit the URL you include with your message. There, you can design to your heart’s content.

  • Now things will turn worse

    Up to now, I liked that fact that about 80%-100% of corporate news letters were irrelevant to me, because I taught my mail client to display only the text part. Now newsletter designers will start to think about how to make a good text-based newsletter which I don’t want to read, because I am not interested in their “news”. But may there’s hope for me :)

  • Brutuscat

    Security reasons?!! So they see IE7 secureless, unvelibable. Microsoft is the dictator of the sofware standars. Sorry for you guys. I have my own on developing Win32 app.

  • jack

    It is security reason. In the last years, security features in OL takes a lot of feasibility but i think it is a must.

  • Nathan W

    Absolutely insane!

  • Klaus Silberbauer

    Just as I thought Microsoft was beginning to cope with reality they prove me wrong. What an incredibly lame decision.

    And this is NOT about html vs. text, crying out loud.

  • Ian

    Just one more reason why everyone should use open source.

  • oroya65

    MS have finally pushed me over the edge with this. I use Thunderbird and Firefox. I have MS Office XP on my PC, but use Open Office a lot. I will never buy another copy of MS Office again and I am disowning my Hotmail account.

    This will backfire badly on Microsoft and the sooner the better!

  • Tom

    Doesn’t really matter. Won’t change a thing for anyone if they are already coding email cross platform, as most CSS doesn’t work anyways.

    Besides table layouts are easier anyways! Yay, tables!

  • Lugh Lamfhada

    What’s up with everyone pining for text only emails? Sure, an email from person to person should be text only, but marketing and newsletters need something more.

    I’m a marketer, and while many folks here would like to see text-only emails, text has been proven to be far less effective than HTML. Text doesn’t allow for any sort of email tracking to measure results, nor does it enable formatting or masking a large and cumbersome URL.

    The days of text emails for marketing and newsletters are gone, they’re not coming back. No one wants a massive block of text as their weekly newsletter, they’re far less likely to read it. Short and sweet may be good for some people, but it’s an impossibility from a marketing standpoint. Now, some of you may say “well then stop marketing.” Watch what happens to the economy when people stop marketing.

    I’m going to reserve judgement on Outlook 2007 until I see it myself. Remember, they’re totally revamping the way that Word renders HTML, so who knows? It may look just as good as IE rendering. My company uses Lotus Notes right now, so not much could be worse than that!

  • Klaus Silberbauer

    Just one more reason why everyone should use open source.

    Hey, this will maybe stop all that HTML-spam! If you got a web side, then fucking put it on a webserver instead of sending it via mail.

    Oh yes. Let’s all start using Linux, Star Office and Mozilla. I’ll wipe my Windows partition right away and in the meantime you go tell the other 1 billion folks out there that they should quit using Windows and MS Office as of now.

    Get real, guys. People are using html formatted mail, period. And people is buying Microsoft Software, not matter how loud you shout. So let’s try to convince Microsoft to fix their buggy piece of **** software instead of shouting about open source all the time.

  • SomeGuy

    “This has exactly zero impact on people who realize that email is a vehicle for information and not “an experience.”

    Ahhh someone who gets it! Maybe everyone else should calm down a little?

  • ArcaneMagus

    Out of all the people here who have posted only one other person (senIxon) saw the key thing that was different from the 2007 shot and the 2000 shot…in office 2007 the person HASN’T DOWNLOADED THE IMAGES…so of course it is going to look horrible. Try clicking the “Download images…” Link at the top of the email and then see how different they look. Topics like this are simply meant to get attention and hope that only a small percentage of the people reading it actually pay attention to the details…

  • Calophi

    You know, this debate would be solved if the presence of IE on a computer automatically changed what Outlook used to render emails. Surely it wouldn’t be too hard to implement?

  • AP

    Someone (Google, Apple, etc.) needs to go jihad on Microsoft’s ass. This just doesn’t make any sense. Those 50 year old goons need to pull their heads out of their asses.

  • Blink

    If it has anything to do with separating the browser from the OS I do not get it, IE7 still is shipped with the OS after all.

    To make matters worse, if they rely on Word / Office doing the rendering, how will Windows Mail (ie. whatever mail client is included with Vista) display HTML if no Office / Word is installed ? not at all / pure text, tags and all ???

    This definitely is a dumb idea, but then I am used to seeing dumb ideas from MS (for the last years they seemed to be the vast majority, maybe there is a trend here…). In any case I couldn’t care less, I do not use Outlook nor IE, this will hopefully speed up the transition to superior products (and yes, I do use XP).

    The only halfway sensible explanation is that the mail looks the same when written in Outlook and when displayed by it. Of course they could drop the Office rendering engine and replace it with the IE one, that would be a lot smarter than what they actually did.

  • PaulB

    Yep, discovered this last month. I wish I had the validator tool at that time, it would have saved me hours! Although I haven’t run this month’s newsletter through it. If it’s anything like Word for rendering/switching tags I might just give up!

  • Dave Greiner

    Try clicking the “Download images…” Link at the top of the email and then see how different they look.

    ArcaneMagus, I can confirm this has nothing to do with images being on or off. The header and decorative images are background images, and because background images aren’t supported they aren’t visible with images on or off. Also, as long as you include the width and height in an image tag in Outlook, the layout won’t break, you’ll just see an empty placeholder where the image should be.

    The layout breaks purely because Outlook 2007 doesn’t support float and has terrible box model support.

  • Werni

    I think its a very good decision. I do not want thick graphics and backgrounds in my mails. I want the text, the information, nothing else. Its sucking to wait for this big animated flash e-mails when online with my GRPS-Smartphone… And with GPRS, I have to pay for the traffic.

    I say: Take it back to the roots, without all of this features that maybe nice to have, but no one needs for simple functionality.


  • Sean

    I can’t see how everyone seems to be overlooking the fact that businesses are founded on Microsoft Office. The major hurdle will not be overcome, because nearly all business IT departments base their office solutions on Microsoft.

    Any normal user won’t be opting out of Outlook to download Thunderbird. Any normal user is just happy that their IT department set up their email access.

    It’s sad that Yahoo!’s new compliance & mailbox will go all for not. Perhaps we’ll have to start sniffing for Yahoo, gmail and other inboxes.

  • Ben Bucksch

    Well, guys, I’m a Mozilla programmer, and Microsoft is right, and brave. It does help security a lot. The more complex a renderer, the more vulnerable it is. And email is worse than browsers: you can target a specific person easily. So, to get more secure, the best thing you can do is to cut the features down to the bare minimum.
    And, as a user, I don’t want a styled-through webpage in my email, I want information, plain structural HTML without any style, please, I like my fonts, thank you.

  • Halo

    As an email designer, I am really disappointed in MS’s decision to do this. Subscribers sign up (and in many cases pay money) to receive information from organisations and they should be able to view that information in a well formatted and professional manner, not some badly formed Word rendered document.

    However, I can see a bigger issue looming here. I think that this decision will just encourage more SPAM to be sent by small businesses who can’t justify / see the value in professional email design and sending and don’t understand the ramifications of this practice.

    Some posters have suggested to ween users of Outlook. I would love to see this, but it seems we’re stuck with it. Most IT managers will be reluctant to change, especially in large organisations as it would mean training hundreds – thousands of users on how to hit send in another application.

    I would also dread the day if MS went into email marketing. I’m sure it would be a cheap solution, aimed at small – medium sized businesses. I doubt that they would provide help on improving deliverability and usability or providing effective bandwidth to inhouse users of the application.

  • email marketer

    I run an email marketing company.

    You guys making out that this is the end of the industry and blah, blah, blah need a reality check.

    This announcement will have a minimal impact on our business as we are and have always been in the habit of designing our emails to very basic HTML standards. Tables, spacers and basic inline styles are the order of the day here so nothing much changes for us and our customers.

    IMHO, if you’ve been using CSS positioning and all the other mumbo jumbo in your email templates then you’ve been flirting with danger from day dot. Back to basics people!

  • Dominick

    “if you’ve been using CSS positioning and all the other mumbo jumbo in your email templates then you’ve been flirting with danger from day dot. Back to basics people!”

    CSS is pretty basic. In technology there is such a thing as a curve. A curve is sign of inevitable growth. Business build off of growth. If one business has the capability to stop growth, then businesses weaken, and only the one will flourish. Pretty basic.

  • Lenzz

    I’ve been designing html emails for over a decade now. In the early days you had to work with tables and I’ve been using that technique ever since. Over the years I’ve introduced CSS in my email designs, but just for colouring text or very basic stuff. Mostly using inline CSS. Using only CSS to position every block and element is dangerous!
    Anyway, this doesn’t mean I’m not dissapointed with Microsoft’s decision for Outlook 2007 rendering engine. Microsoft doens’t fit Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution. Period.

  • Mike

    That is so stupid.
    People who are agreeing with MS’s decision because they hate HTML email are missing the point (as stated in the original article and by several other users), you WILL still receive HTML email, it will just look more unreadable and bulkier than before.

    CSS isn’t just an aesthetics game, it aides towards breaking down accessibility barriers. What happened to the ‘tables are for tabular data and not layouts’ argument?

    Another point that keeps popping up in the user comments is.. ‘no worries, just move to xyz for email’.. You’re thinking of this as it’s your machine not the people that you’re trying to email. Most people have been shown how to use a computer, including how to collect their email. Outlook / O.Express is a safety blanket for some, and they won’t move from it. This equates to a LOT of people, meaning they will all see horrendous results if CSS based emails are to be sent out.

    Sure there’s loads of spam out there, but what about legitimate emailings from companies you have chosen to accept sales offers, etc. from? This move is going to make everyone look like amateurs!

    Insane move MS.

  • John Doe

    it’s simply too stupid to comprehand… but on the other side, it is microsoft….

  • DeathToSpam

    First, the “people should not send HTML emails” argument is arrogant to the point of absurdity. Marketers like sending HTML emails and some people prefer reading HTML-formatted emails. And they’re not going to stop if some of us developers, designers and nerds think HTML emails serve no purpose.

    Second, I think that this change isn’t necessarily be a bad thing. If end-users are put off enough by the change, they may start using other non-MS web clients that have more robust support for standards-based CSS. Yahoo!, AOL, Thunderbird, Mac Mail and Entourage all have excellent support for CSS in emails right now. Microsoft’s change could also drive designers to take a more minimalist approach to developing their HTML-formatted emails. Web browsers should be used to render robust content, IMO, and if Outlook starts forcing people to link from their minimalist email to more robust content online (viewed in a browser), that’s fine with me.

    I do agree with the general sentiment that this was an arrogant and foolhardy move. But I think Microsoft is doing the community a great service by doing this: it shows quite clearly how Microsoft’s products may be inferior to those offered by smaller, more nimble businesses. Firefox did a fantastic job of proving this first, and this is yet another case where other products can stand to benefit from Microsoft’s hubris.

    -= Deathtospam =-

  • Simon Barratt

    I don’t think MS has that much of a market share in the Corporate world. Probably no more than 60%

  • Joseph Maguire

    Well Microosoft is thinking for themselves and not for others. One as a designer I continually work with brands that require web email blasts. It’s a side task but its just one job that makes a few extra dollars and keeps their brand on target in their emails. What the hell is microsoft smoking? I hope this is one of those false reports like aim is going to require us to pay for it or something because thats a big mistake.


  • Brian Z.

    Everybody who reads this, please flood the Microsoft Office team’s e-mail boxes with e-mails concerning this move to the Word HTML rendering engine. Hold them to maintaining some web standards. PLEASE!

  • José Gustavo

    I doubt anything we do can change Microsoft’s view. Do you think they didn’t thought about consequences of this?

    It’ll happen anyway

  • Funny funster

    kw said

    … the despised and vulnerable word engine … This cracks the attack vector WIDE open

    I can’t argue with the poor HTML rendering in Word 2000-2003, since it only exists to preserve Word-readable formatting in an HTML format. (In fact, it’s not the rendering engine that’s at fault, but the way Word transforms Word XML into HTML which is inaccurate).. but anyway could kw please enlighten me as to the attack vectors in the Word 2007 HTML rendering engine?

  • Leon

    Joseph, before you start moaning that Word 2007 can’t render your nice HTML marketing emails properly, why not make your website accessible and implement the recommended fix (see http://www.adobe.com/devnet/activecontent/articles/devletter.html) to get your flash website to work without the “click to activate this control” border. I know this is a microsoft issue, but they did it because of a successful lawsuit brought against them, not to win the browser wars or anything like that. Then, make it fit in a 1280×1024 fullscreen window without requiring scrollbars.

    One rule for them…

    Also you say Microsoft is thinking for themselves and not for others – well, it seems a lot of marketeers and CSS design-school people here are thinking for themselves and not for others by *demanding* that the entire world uses the software that they like. You may not like Outlook or IE, but an enormous proportion of your target audience does, so shouldn’t you be designing for them instead of complaining that your cool new effect isn’t supported by your customers?

    Also, I should apologise for picking on you, it’s merely because your post was next to mine and there’s rich pickings to be had on this comment board for an argumentative sod like me.

  • Iain Gibbons

    We’re an agency supporting some major brands and this is so annoying – we have spent £1000’s on research and development to make sure we are constantly at the leading edge of email design – I can throw all that away now – Thanks Microsoft. I wonder what Microsoft’s own email designers will be doing now?

  • Ummm

    <blink>probably not putting background music on their websites?</blink>

    but more to the point, probably designing their emails so the information in the message is key, rather than proving the worth of the expensive design agency behind it.

  • Mark Wyner

    email marketer:

    Thank you so much for clarifying the difference between “you” and “us.” This series of comments is riddled with childish, ignorant comments from people who are completely unhitched from the reality of the difference between email marketers and email designers, the intent of this article and whether or not people should use HTML in the email environment.

    Let’s clear up some things, and then all of your forum addicts can spend the next week bashing me for my comments because I’m a “spammer” and a “moron” and whatever else you’ve been saying herein:

    1) As “email marketer” pointed out, there is a difference between an email marketer and an email designer. Email marketers could care less about standards and pleasant visual designs which require lots of CSS, etc. Email designers care about the latter because our clients send their HTML emails to an audience of people who have GIVEN PERMISSION TO RECEIVE EMAILS and have ASKED FOR HTML FORMATTING with their subscriptions. This is so obvious I can only assume those gnashing their teeth about HTML emails don’t actually work in the web-design industry.

    2) David’s article points out that Microsoft has made a horrible decision which will impact how PERMISSION BASED emails sent to LEGITIMATE SUBSCRIBERS are rendered in Outlook 2007. Many people are forced to use Outlook or are unaware of alternatives. They have been VIEWING and READING their emails from lists to which they SUBSCRIBED, and suddenly these emails will fall apart, often to the point of unreadability. So we (meaning email designers, not email marketers) have some decisions to make about how to proceed. This WILL NOT END HTML in the email environment. Anyone who thinks otherwise is, again, unhitched from reality. People ask for HTML emails and we deliver them. So this doesn’t end HTML emails, it simply complicates the jobs of people who create HTML emails for legitimate subscribers and adds the frustration of people who want to receive them.

    3) Those of you who are plain-text evangelists won’t be receiving HTML emails from those of us who are professional email designers. You will receive HTML from spammers, but it won’t be standards based and won’t look good. It will be garbage created by some email marketer somewhere; or at least “the boys in the back room” of an email marketer’s office. To demand that we keep HTML emails out of your inbox is legitimate. And as professionals we have a solution for that: an unsubscribe link. Yes, that’s correct. When you unsubscribe from our clients’ email list, you exclude yourself from receiving HTML emails from us. It’s so easy it’s comical.

    It would be great to see a constructive conversation happening here. It’s far too bad that instead we are seeing a militia of misguided commentary. For those of you who love to hate me, you may now continue with your angst.

    Love and kisses.

  • GJ Head


    Not so much off-topic, but if the new Outlook doesn’t support PADDING on a DIV or a P tag, and Hotmail doesn’t support MARGIN on a DIV or a P tag, how am I supposed to get around this?

    I’ve been working on an email template most the day today and trying to make it conform to these new Outlook setting, and this is a really a pain.

    Oh, and it’s too bad the comments that are in this thread from all the visitors who are nut usually around these parts. It’s really taken away from a forum that could be of a big help to some of us designers.

    I agree with Mark’s comments above, but it seems that they may all be for nil.

    To Dave and the Mailbuild crew: how about a discussion board that is made available only to users in good standing with Campaign Monitor who have at least one paid campaign sent?

    To be honest, I can really use some intelligent discussion concerning these latest changes…

  • mortalez

    typical microsoft crap, but i guess simple is better for them based on all the outlook hacks out there.

  • Suz

    Mark Wyner, as an email designer, you took the words out of my mouth.

    Enough of people saying “oh just use thunderbird”. If the receivers of our html emails use outlook, then we must design for outlook. We designers do not get to choose which email program our clients use.

  • Joseph Maguire

    Leon, I am a designer. Not a css coder or marketer. I get small businesses who look to extend their brands developing more then just their web presence or print collateral… sometimes they ask for web blasts. Mostly just requiring a background image mostly predesigned stuff in photoshop so I can keep the layout & typography as consistent as possible… Anytime you take away consumer’s freedoms you end up limiting them. What they should be doing is allowing for flash in emails. Not going backwards.

    The more I think about this supposed Feature set removal. I doubt it. Too many businesses use email marketing images and html. Look at blockbuster / amazon / netflix / best buy… all these major brands.. I highly doubt their going to take this ability away for real but if they are its a major mistake.

    *And to those who are using email blasts for mass marketing I am not associated with you. And I am not associated with the spammers either.

  • Leon Breedt

    We were bitten by this today…Gah. You have to look long and hard to find something Microsoft does without tragically poor decisions and compromises like this.

    Actually, can’t think of one, someone let me know? Because they seem to have a culture of mediocrity…

  • Tom

    I have emailed a link to this post in microsofts suggestion box which can be found here:


    Please do the same, maybe it is possible to make a difference if enough voices get heard.

    I have also started a thread on the discussion portion of microsoft’s site.


  • paul

    For all those who have commented, saying that we should be going back to plain text emails anyway, because that’s what email is ‘supposed to be’, I have a few things to say… Email was never ‘supposed to be’ plain text, it just was, and then it progressed. The entire internet used to be plain text also, do you want Microsoft to disable html rendering in their browser too? If so, we should all be talking on corded phones, printing on dot-matrix printers, listening to mono music, and watching black and white TV. Right?

  • Barry

    Unbelievable! I regularly compile HTML emails in nasty table-based layouts because of a lack of CSS support, which pains me being someone who creates websites with semantic XHTML and CSS. At least, I thought, CSS support would soon improve in email clients and we can clean up our code…

    To go the opposite way is very surprising considering the progress that’s been made with IE7.

    Contrary to pushing people to produce rich-text or text-only emails, I think this will actually cause more people to send those awful image map emails to get things looking the way they want! :s

  • Oscar Gensmann

    Outlook 2007 does have a way to render an e-mail using the built in browser (security-zone).

    The method is:

    1) Open the E-mail in it’s own window (double click)

    2) Click the toolbar button called “Other actions” in the ribbon

    3) Choose “View in browser”

    This doesn’t help the problem with the preview pane and the fact that the user has to do a considerable amount of work to view the e-mail in it’s correct form. It does however change the situation where it’s totally impossible to view an advanced HTML e-mail in using Outlook 2007 as the primary e-mail client, to a situation where people choosing to use 2007 can be taught how to view advanced HTML e-mails with a simple couple of clicks method.

    So ensuring that your HTML-email has a basic display with colors and simple formatting to look at in the previewpane, and then maybe include css to the full blown whistle and bells version if you choose to view it in the browser, will probably get you a long way, without resorting to old school coding practices.

    The major problem seems to be that it takes a couple of clicks and a lot of education of the end-user to understand this, but this might be considered a (interface) hurdle imposed on the user by Microsoft rather than a problem with the designers skill’s, if explained correctly to clients.

  • GJ Head

    I’m wondering, does anyone have any information on Microsoft Live mail? Will it be replacing Hotmail? And if so, when?

    Finally, does it confirm to the new edits as well?

  • David Nesting

    I like HTML e-mails, but I’m really not that miffed by this change. E-mails are intended to be light-weight communications, not a heavy-weight transport for glossy brochures. If you have some heavy-weight content that you want to e-mail your users, create it as an attachment or publish it at a URL and provide that URL in your e-mail. Anyone that has to use complex table-based (or formerly CSS-based) layouts in their e-mail messages are, in my opinion, abusing e-mail.

  • Rob Bynder

    Mark Wyner makes an excellent point. However I disagree with his labeling of “marketer” vs. “designer”. Whether you consider yourself a Designer isn’t the point. There’s plenty of excellent design coming from so-called “marketers”. The distinction is actually permission-based email vs. spam. And btw, all you plain-text luddites (yes, I intended every ounce of irony there)… please stop. You have every bit of control over what your preferences are.

  • Xela

    C’mon. You don’t wanna hear some other opinions, don’t ya? But its true, look for the needs of your readers, not for html. Deliver useful content not html design. Its not a question of bashing microsoft. Its a question of readers performance. We do have a e-mail overflow, html is not a solution for this. content is king.

    And now, delete it. Second time.

  • Possum

    I can scarcely articulate my rage at Microsoft for pulling this kind of power play. It stifles innovation, and will cause many other ripples in our industry. Sadly, subscribers will likely never realize why their email newsletters suddenly look like crap. They’ll blame us (and our clients), not Microsoft.

    I have a client (a HUGE company) that does a lot of internal email marketing, and 99% of recipients use Lotus Notes. So I have about a year of experience creating emails that render predictably on that platform. Apart from no support for line-spacing and margins, you can still do pretty well using inline CSS and tables. The code isn’t pretty, but with a little extra tweaking and testing you can still get the design you want. So take heart, email marketers, the same will be true for Outlook 2007.

    Dave Greiner: How about a board where we can all share workaround tips?

  • Halo

    Xela, I think that you are missing the point of this. I am an email designer and I know that I myself, colleagues and all other email designers that I know create their emails in order to send out content, not to show off their design skills.

    Overly designed emails fail everytime they are used in a campaign, so a minimilist approach is almost always used by professional email designers anyway.

    Once this approach is implemented by MS, we will no longer be able to create emails that adhere to this practice and need to use chunky HTML solutions that will take away content in order to keep the email size down.

    Many posters here are automatically assuming that a HTML emal is SPAM. This is simply not the case. People request to receive emails from organisations and in most cases request the HTML versions of these mails when given the option.

    If you don’t like HTML emails, change your subscription details to recieve a text version, but don’t assume HTML = SPAM.

  • Scott

    Previously you could send a HTML email in the comfort that the majority of your recipients would have very good CSS support.

    Why would you want to at all? Do you write newsletters?
    Routine HTML email is evil. I don’t want HTML messages I didn’t ask for.

    The only ones I ask for are various newsletters. However lately I’ve unsubscribed from most of those and gone with RSS feeds.

    As far as Outlook is concerned. It’s always sucked. That’s why I don’t use it.

  • Dave Greiner

    I’m wondering, does anyone have any information on Microsoft Live mail? Will it be replacing Hotmail? And if so, when? Finally, does it confirm to the new edits as well?

    From what we’ve heard Live Mail will be gradually replacing Hotmail over the next year. I can confirm it doesn’t have exactly the same rendering issues as Outlook 2007, but it certainly has its fair share of problems. We’ll be covering this in much more detail in the next few days along with a sneak peak of the new Yahoo! Mail beta’s CSS support.

    How about a board where we can all share workaround tips?

    That’s a great idea and something we’ve been considering for a while. Hold that thought.

  • Bruca

    Microsoft has the power. People need to do what Microsoft wants, not what they want. Don’t like it? Too bad. Switch to another software or to open source.

  • Vick

    Wow! That’s quite a stunner. I would say use a service like http://www.emailhosting.com and you can enjoy a lovely interface as well as enjoy spam & virus free email.

    Why would Microsoft take steps backwards. Let’s hope the real thing is better than you have described.

  • James McNally

    Molly Holzschlag is gathering info on test cases and will present them to Microsoft. She’s influential and may actually get them to listen:


  • katherine

    Imagine if someone said “letters” should be hand-written only.

    Imagine if letters were hand-written only AND someone said letters were for words, not pictures.

    Imagine you hand wrote a letter and wanted to send a picture to someone else and you couldnt because you new that the post office would scan your letter and put it in the shredder if it detected your photo.

    Imagine a world where imaginative people bow down to the naysayers and fold their imaginations into the darkness never to be used again.

    Imagine if the dreamers who dreamt of seeing the earth from space had listened, and believed those who said it shouldnt be and couldnt be done.

    Just imagine what you wouldnt do if you let the naysayers hold sway.

    Just imagine if the first photographers had listened to the fine artists who said photos werent art…and the film photographers who said digital cameras would never make photos as good as film.

    People are visual and visionaries dont work within boundaries. Visionaries break free and go beyond the boundaries.

  • Wulf

    I agree with Tee. Everybody should keep on designing as if Outlook 2007 doesn’t exist. Maybe then Microsoft will “get with the program”, because if they don’t, their customers will leave.

  • Thomas

    Microsoft takes again one step forward and one step back!

  • Sprint

    Why do you wonder about this? Microsoft is making your life a hell since starting with windows. And nobody gave you the order to use windows, it was your own decision. There are enough operating systems that are cheaper, easier to use and free of virus, trojans… .
    Bus as long as you are buing MS products, they will not change – why should they?

  • Thomas Aylott

    Yes, #3 is the reason.
    I’ve suspected this for years. This absolutely proves that they hate us and want us to die.

  • Rob

    Oh my, what whining. All those fine lads mail their html to the pivileged minority of high DSL owning, blog writing upper class who know about mail security and can configure their vs so they dont get crap via mail ?
    Wake up, the big share out there uses outlook xpress(private) or outlook (company).

    Is Design so much more important than the words you want to transport ?

    Make a slick text version with NO compatibility problems and link to a webpage where u can do whatever u want.

    I bet MS has a good reason and its certainly not to deprive some CSS freaks the possibility of hacking around and the mail code as well.

  • John H

    I use Outlook for the calendaring. I send email as text and I read it as text, for security reasons. Why html email? Do you ENJOY trojans and spyware? There is NO safe html email. None, at all. Use text.

  • go apple

    This sounds like a great reason for more people to switch to Mac or Linux. This news won’t impact me seeing how I use a Mac for most things. At work I’m stuck on Windows and Outlook, but we only use text emails anyways. I usually have settings set to disable pictures and to receive as text only (at work). Thank you Micro$ucks for giving people more reasons to switch to a better OS.

  • Nathan Clark

    This is inconvenient. And bizarre on MS’ part. But just rebuild your emails with tables and move forward. It’s not about your client’s email client preference, or your; Rather this is about their clients, some of whom are almost certainly using Outlook. (And Lotus, for that matter.)
    It’s not that hard and an email’s point is never compliance to standards, but effective communication. (Unless of course, your email is about standard compliance.)

    Gmail isn’t very standards-compliant either – why doesn’t anyone get as upset at their non-compliance as at Microsoft’s?

  • Michael Lokner

    I have experienced a lot during my 10 years as a professional web developer, but I have never (NEVER!) experienced anything like this. May the blink tag eat them alive!

  • Jelle Desramaults


  • Michael James

    Well this is suprising, I’m not a fan of HTML emails as i prefer sending text or even rich text but nothing more. At my work place we have always tried to keep our mailouts simple HTML, as we found many of our reciprients were viewing different things. But this is bad news, i thought new products were meant to enhance and improve existing products, not take a step backwards :(

  • Nick D

    There’s a fairly simple solution. Don’t install Office 2007. It doesn’t have any features you would actually need. I still happily use Office 1997.

    What more do you need than a spellchecker, and maybe tables?

  • maht

    great, now I’ve got to buy a copy of friggin office !!

  • Weon

    Nick D – Hmm, that doesn’t really help those who make their living sending marketing e-mails to unsuspecting punters though does it?

    Microsoft eh? They giveth with one hand and take away with another.

  • Brady J. Frey

    I can’t tell you how angry this makes me – much less for my customers who rely on email newsletters. It’s a blow to their wallets in man power and wasted expenses just because MS can’t get a clue. I’ve been pitching alternatives for years, I’ll be pitching it harder now… and the last thing I better find is the W3 landing the PM of IE Chris Wilson on the Chair of standards after this, Microsoft has no place holding our hands in one respect, smacking us with the other.

  • Jon Morin

    Yure K,
    I’m not sure why you think all email with graphics and css is SPAM. I do receive marketing emails from companies I have bought from before e.g. Nike, Apple, but I don’t consider this SPAM.

    SPAM is the shit I get from harvested email accounts with misspelled profanities and drug names designed to get past email filter systems.

    So don’t say you don’t like rich email. Say you don’t like advertising. There’s a difference.

    Rich email has its place and as per usual, Microsoft is hindering progress and innovation rather than encouraging it.

  • Jon Morin

    We have different opinions on innovation. I see background images and flash in emails as a step BACK. Obviously comments on this blog are tailored to fit custom needs of advertisers (or spammers). My comments are being rudely deleted, since the author of the blog doesn’t stand anyone having different opinion than him.

    “Pich mail” has it’s place, but i don’t regard adding more “Pizzazz!” (as Steve Krug once put it) innovation. We really don’t need this. If it gets you revenue, I feel sorry for your customers, and even more for theirs.

    It’s a matter of decency. Like in any profession you have high professional designers, which I like to hire, and cheap advertisers which send around their enriched emails. Guerrilla advertisers. Just not my style.

    But you all obviously live out of harassing other people, so why not delete my comment and enjoy your jobs!

    Have a nice day.

  • Yure K.

    sorry, I am the author of the upper comment, not Jon Morin

  • CX

    Silly Diggers with their ignorant comments.

    I’m not looking forward to the corporates switching to Outlook 2007.

  • nick

    david, embedded polling would be a nice feature right now for asking subscribers what email software they are using. is that something coming down the pipeline? we need to make some serious decisions with our templates now that office 2007 is upon us.

  • Terry


    Since Microsoft forces us to use simple HTML e-mail design, I will have no need for someone else to design my e-mail newsletters anymore.

    It was nice doing business with you.

  • Dave Greiner

    Cool… Since Microsoft forces us to use simple HTML e-mail design, I will have no need for someone else to design my e-mail newsletters anymore. It was nice doing business with you.

    Terry, not sure what your angle is but if you’d actually used our products before you’d know our software is built for designers who can create their own email designs – we don’t do any design ourselves. Nice try though.

  • Grant Gibson

    Personally I don’t have a problem with this change, and think designing emails using CSS is crazy.

    There are dozens of popular webmail services out there that have limited/zero support for CSS. When I started designing HTML emails I tested some mail clients and webmail systems and concluded that the only safe option was old-school tables & font colors.

    It always amazes me when I receive an HTML email in Gmail that is completely unreadable – either because they’re using CSS or designing for 800-width. Mail clients generally don’t have that display width available. Microsoft MSDN emails are actually really bad for that.

    Who cares if Outlook has good CSS support? Unlike regular web pages, there’s no way for the outgoing mail server to tell if a user is on Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail or the mail client on their phone. Any sensible developer will accept that and design for 95%+ of their users.

  • Derrick

    Been using Outlook 2007 for some time now. Haven’t noticed any difference in the way my emails looked, nor have any of them been “managled” so that I couldn’t read them. (My life as I know it hasn’t ended either…)
    There’s always something to cry about.

  • Joe Baker – Burlington Wiscons

    Microsoft should allow you to use Firefox for rendering HTML inside Outlook 2007.
    What a GREAT compromise this would be!

    -Joe Baker

  • Jeff Sanchez

    Our company is 85% based in email newsletter publishing and this will drastically affect us. Along with the content of our online publications, design is crucial to the quality. This just goes to show how MS has no consideration for designers or creativity. It’s all about business as usual for them…the Apple commercials seem to be pretty accurate.

    It is sad too that they are dominating this market and since majority of our clients are b2b, Outlook is the default email client and it’s something we can’t ignore.

    With such a situation…what is the solution? The integrity of an e-newsletter shouldn’t be sacrificed for amateur design with the caliber of MS Word. It could be ignored but then subscribers receive a jacked up version and may not take the extra click to view in a browser. Has anyone found what different email service providers are doing about this?

  • Halo

    Terry said…


    Since Microsoft forces us to use simple HTML e-mail design, I will have no need for someone else to design my e-mail newsletters anymore.

    It was nice doing business with you.”

    This is the kind of attitude that terrifies me as a professional email designer. Someone who has a message to send out but doesn’t want to use an email designer or email platform to deliver it. Who will ensure that you email is usable and deliverable? What steps have you taken to ensure your opt-out works correctly and is compliant? What will you do if you are blacklisted?

    This decision by MS will just see an increase in this type of thinking.

  • FZero

    HTML sucks anyway. I never tought I would say that, but this bug is a very positive one. Thanks Microsoft!

  • DV

    so it looks like thousands will simply HAVE to buy Outlook 2007 just to see how bad their once great looking HTML emails will turn out (granted their client base majority uses Outlook). not a bad marketing scheme, for those completely without morals of course.

  • DV

    or is there some way around not buying Outlook 07 to test?

  • Dave Greiner

    DV, you can use their supplied validator to check your code, Nick Bradbury’s even released one for TopStyle. Having said that, I don’t think that really competes with seeing the real thing. Another alternative is SiteVista.

  • Big Joe

    Fantastic! …the amount of comments and discussion this topic has generated – regardless, we will all await the outcome (some say no problem already?)… but everything Microsoft does, unfortunately affects us one way or another…

    Yes I would love to have a MAC too – maybe some day…

    But I have to ask these people who like their TEXT EMAIL (I guess you folks don’t have much to do – you’re probably the ones that send these lengthy jokes like my parents) – but I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ 50 LINES OF TEXT to get the point.

    I love HTML email and I would rather see an attractive graphic email then 50 lines of text ANY DAY! I can’t imagine getting an ALL-TEXT newsletter – blah!

    I guess you’d prefer your websites and newspapers didn’t have any pictures… sounds like a pretty boring world if you asked me!

  • Just a Guy


    this is awful

  • Just a thought

    Has anybody considered that perhaps the Word HTML parsing engine has been updated to better handle HTML email? It seems to me that most comments are assuming that the OLD Word HTML parsing engine will be used. It would be ignorant to think that they have not updated Word.

  • The Man in Texas

    HTML is not only for web pages, and it is not only used by Spammers and Advertisers. Anyone that is a member of an online community (in the business sense) would normally receive member-based emails about their enrolled program. Any contemporary company would be using HTML emails to communicate with their member base over flat text. This affect ALL HTML emails sent by companies. Their are agencies that make their livliehood off of building emails.

    Taking out background images and disallowing CSS (which is clumsily rendered in the first place) will greatly cripple email companies and the design of site-based member emails. Companies will now be forced to communicate with members in a primitive standard.

    Whether or not spammers use background images – so does EVERY legitimate email that is not in text. This is a joke, and for all the brains over at Microsoft, you would think they could come up with a better spam filter than just devastating the email community. Any website that has system-generated emails will now have to re-do ALL HTML in their system to allow for Outlook 2007. This is a JOKE.

  • Web Developer

    To those who say that HTML is not for email…

    The Internet is not behave the way any one person thinks it should. Many people have developed nice, easy to read, HTML based emails that serve their purpose much better than any text email could.

    Regarding Outlook 2007. It has hands-down the worse html email rendering program I’ve seen. In fact, every single web-based email program I’ve used outperforms it. I would be furious and shameful of the work that was put out by the Outlook team if I was their project manager.

  • Ben L

    For a professional email marketing company like ours – this is a disastrous decision by Microsoft. This will cost us dearly in redesigning templates for existing clients, and impact on our ability to create truly compelling emails. I am shocked and appalled that a company could make such a ridiculous decision which will impact on 1000’s of companies worldwide. Not only will this affect the professional eMarketers out there, but it will seriously impact on the consumer experience. Surely Microsoft understand that the Internet has developed based on the fact that brands and consumers interact in this space, and that the look and feel of this experience is critical to the advancement of the Internet. It’s the equivalent of rolling TV back to black & white. SHAME ON YOU MICROSOFT!

  • Momotaro

    Granted, it makes sense to a product designer to make smooth product interweavability. This is Microsoft. and Web standards don’t apply to them cause they have 90% of the consumer PC market. Arrogance is the word that comes to mind since they are making money from others’ inventions and volunteer efforts to develop the Web.

  • Chris Rommers

    Maybe this will help:


    It’s al long shot, I know…

  • Paul Enderson

    John H wrote on January 19, 2007 2:51 AM
    “Why html email? Do you ENJOY trojans and spyware? There is NO safe html email. None, at all. Use text.”

    You’re right. I’ll do that – I’ll only use plain text… and then I can wrap tin foil all around my head, so that those Google Map freaks can’t look into my brain.

    Evolution of the species? I don’t think so…

  • Nicholas

    Wow it looks like no one bothered to complain while it was IN BETA!!!!! Oh well I hate Office 2007 anyway. I prefer Office 2003 and Open Office just doesn’t match it. I’ll be happy to use Office 2003 until who knows a better version of Open Office with clipart, templates, etc… or maybe even Office 2009 if they get rid of that crappy ribbon control. I bet after about a month or two there will be an update anyway that will give Outlook back it’s old IE rendering engine.
    p.s. Honestly what is wrong with HTML e-mails. I like them. All we need is Microsoft to comply with internet standards and it would be fine.

  • Ian

    Since going into an Apple store for the first time recently and having look around the Mac desktop, I’ve been thinking I might just get a Mac. Thanks Microsoft for helping me decide!

  • Scott

    It seems like Microsoft loves to counterbalance their progress…one step forward (Vista), two steps back (Outlook 2007). It will be interesting to see how many of my incoming emails start rendering with distorted formatting.

  • Email Marketer and Designer

    Great comments here.

    But many of those made by other ’email designers’ and ’email marketers’ both worry and encourage me.

    The ones that complain about this ‘development’ worry me in that I wonder why this makes SUCH a difference at the end of the day. Show me a design that can ONLY be achieved with CSS and I’ll give you $1M.

    Our company designs and codes emails for all types of recipients. Some of our corporate have recipient lists that comprise of over 80% Lotus notes. Try using anything other than basic HTML 2.0 standards with Notes and I wish you luck.

    For that reason, we code ALL our emails, regardless of the design with inline CSS, font colors and good old tables. I say again, there is no such thing as a design that can’t be built without CSS.

    The other reason I’m worried is that clearly these ‘marketers and designers’ have, in my opinion and from their comments, a seemingly poor understanding of the eDM market in general. Why would you not code for the lowest common denominator? It seems insane to me to do anything but. What are they telling their clients? I suspect most of these people are web designers doing email, not specialists.

    Another point, we provide eDM services to a very large ISP. Their customers predominately use Outlook Express and Outlook to read their email. A proportion also use a very basic webmail client. So for this client, we need to cater for the rich text and the HTML capable segments. Again, basic HTML and clever ‘view in browser’ links get around any potential ‘mangling’ of the design.

    The reason why I’m encouraged is that these comments show me that we as a company are doing the right thing, and have been for a long time. We’ve just completed testing all our regular email designs for our major clients on Outlook 2007 and only two had some small display issues that were quickly rectificed.

    It clearly pays to know what you’re doing.

  • Dave Greiner

    Email Marketer and Designer, thanks for your comments.

    The ones that complain about this ‘development’ worry me in that I wonder why this makes SUCH a difference at the end of the day. Show me a design that can ONLY be achieved with CSS and I’ll give you $1M.

    I understand the thinking behind this, but I think you might be missing the point here. This is exactly the same argument the web design world had 5 years ago. Using tables for layout is a dying art in the web design community, in fact many designers who have started CSS/XHTML in the last few years have never even coded a table based layout before (which is a good thing).

    CSS based emails are more lightweight, much more accessible to those with disabilities and because content is separated from presentation, much easier to dumb down for those reading email on mobile devices.

    This change by Microsoft means that for at least the next 5 years any designer not familiar with table based layouts will need to learn a completely different way of creating a HTML page if they want to send emails. I don’t see how keeping email design in the dark ages can be a good thing.

    I suspect most of these people are web designers doing email, not specialists.

    Of course they are. When sending an email newsletter, most small and medium businesses approach their web designer to take care of it rather than a specialist email marketing firm like Returnity.

    I certainly understand there are a number of different approaches required for email design as opposed to web design in terms of content and look and feel, but why should there be a complete different set of coding rules? Don’t you think we should be working towards lifting the lowest common denominator instead of leaving our industry in the dark ages and continuing to design bloated, inaccessible emails using coding standards from a decade ago.

  • Quinn

    I’m glad. Another argument for sending text-only emails!

  • Ema Brunton

    I’m an email marketer and my boss has told me to start learning seo as I wont have a job in the next year the way things are going… so is it good?

    I dont think so and nor do the people who live on an income from doing it :(

  • Nocturnal

    I have been reporting and complaining about this for quite some time. I’m glad that so many others have picked up on it and don’t agree with what they’re doing. I really hope they decide to fix this problem.

  • Damien Buckley

    Sorry to be unusually late to the party but I’ve just gotten back to work after a moonth in the UK and what do I see first cab off the rank? A huge amount of unpaid future work rectifying pretty much all of our existing clients’ newsletters.

    I feel for Ema Brunton as we’ve built approx. 1/3 of our business around email marketing and I share Dave and the Freshview teams’ concern at this ridiculous (typically ignorant) move by Microsoft. Do they never learn?

  • davidvogt

    Your article is very informative and helped me further.

    Thanks, David

  • Jack

    I currently do some designing for corporate newsletters sent out to their employees. I like the fact that MS has built a validation tool standalone and Dreamweaver, now if I had a PC, that’d be great, but alas, .msi files are not friendly on OS X. No biggie, I’ve done this for a while and know the ins and outs but as soon as they start upgrading to newer versions of Outlook, I will have to reassess how I code new newsletters.

    M$, like everyone else is speaking, please stop taking steps backwards, especially when you insist on copying Apple a progressively forward moving company!

  • Assaf

    this is great news if you ask me! this is a chance for all news letter providers to take a stand, and tell their readers to use a better client. this time it’s not like the browser wars, where most users use IE and then when they try using Firefox or others some websites are broken, this time they will upgrade their client and IT will be broken!
    this is the time to gain market share and kick MS’s ass.

  • nstlgc

    Very good. HTML has no place in email. I’ve been waiting for this for 5 years.

  • Dave

    I prefer to stick to plain text for mailshots with a link to the HTML version but this decision still strikes me as rather bizarre.

  • Yves

    p/s further to my comment @ 11:15PM

    I’ve since learned that even OL2007 grinds to a crawl when it has .pst inbox files larger than 2MB, Microsoft admits. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/932086

    Ok. I’m not going to pull punches. It is you guys, who create all this fancy HTML, who think everyone wants what you’re doing — it is your fancy HTML that is grinding our inboxes into dust.

    Search google for and hear the angst of the trouble people go through when their inboxes get crammed with junky graphics and HTML newsletters.

    I mean, when you were applying for jobs, weren’t there good jobs designing web pages. Did you have to take jobs designing emails ?

    Until now, we didn’t know who the culprits were for our inboxes getting flooded. In fact, until now, I wasn’t aware there was such a group of people known as email designers. Now, this Outlook 2007 HTML issue has flushed you guys out into the open. It’s you guys who are responsible for our inboxes getting stalled and crushed to bits.

    Don’t blame Microsoft. This time — for once — I’m on their side.

  • Pedant

    Good, there is no need fot html email. All email should be text only.

  • WolfZombie

    Has anyone else noticed a new CSS rendering problem in Outlook 2003 since Friday (February 23rd, 2007)? The support for elements seems to have been removed in Outlook 2003 as well.

  • Paulo

    After reading a few posts here it seems that many people are missing the point.

    Imagine that Google stopped putting links on their search results and instead put a number next to each result and asked you to scroll to the bottom of the page to get your link. Annoying? Timewasting? A backward step? That is sort of like what Mircosoft have done here with email.

    If you want to stop getting HTML email newsletter, then unsubscribe or ask for a text only version, etc.

    As far as “HTML filling your inbox” – that is mostly the result of poor design enforced by embedded images (rather than images loading from websites) and extra code which has to be used because of Microsoft making decisions like this.
    Don’t understand that one? try this: create a HTML page in Word with one or two images, save it and check the file size (“view source” to see the mess it creates), then check the file size of one of the HTML e-mail newsletters you receive.

    If the email design community is doing its job correctly then the email newsletter will be significantly smaller.

  • Dave

    I’m amazed at those computer Luddites who say text only for e-mails. As a businessman I use signature insert into html e-mails and also paste in a table from an excel database for pricing. Since Outlook 2007 won’t allow more than one signature insert per e-mail, nor will it allow Excel paste in column widths to remain the same, I’m removing the Outlook 2007 and returning to 2003.

  • Half Empty

    Unfortunately for HTML e-mail haters, OL2007’s inability to handle decent HTML is hardly the sign of a return to plain text emails. Quite the opposite in fact. Check out this link:

    That’s right. It’s a dialog box from Word 2007 with the option to mail-merge to HTML. Now everybody can send ‘HTML’ emails. The WordArt lovers. The people who produce one-page Word documents at 3MB because they’ve inserted a huge scanned image. The list goes on.

    The saving grace of MS Office until now was that users could only mail-merge to email in plain text format. Ok, I sound elitist but that at least tended to keep HTML emails in the hands of professionals – who generally aimed for small file sizes and non-embedded images.

    I’m one of those who’ve learned to make HTML emails render properly in Outlook, Lotus Notes and simple online readers. It won’t be the end of the world to add OL2007 to the list. HTML emails can still be things of beauty compared to your average ham-fisted Word document.

    Unfortunately, a growing number of HTML emails will henceforward be ham-fisted Word documents (apologies to creators of beautiful Word documents, but you’ll still have all the MS code garbage in every email), especially now that Word’s takeover of Outlook is virtually complete.

  • Half Empty

    Addendum to previous comment. Of course, everyone with Outlook can already send HTML emails. The point I meant to make is that integrating with Word mail merge will only encourage widespread mass-mailing of ‘HTML’ emails that are really Word documents, with little regard or understanding by the sender of the space they take up in recipients’ inboxes or how they will render in different email clients.

    BTW. It’s still February here in Englandland.

  • 2byte

    This is just another way Microsoft are trying to use there might to squeeze out the smaller companies. They know all the big corps will use outlook 2007 and so the small firms will have to fall into place and support their rubbish web tech. It’s like Mercedes bringing out a horse drawn car and the executives buy it because it’s a Merc so we all have to tread in the horse sh*t!

  • Brian Edwards

    “Andrew, just to clarify, this doesn’t do anything to stop HTML emails, it simply means many of the emails you receive will be mangled and difficult to read. This will only add to your frustration.”

    Good. Maybe then idiots will quit sending emails in HTML. There’s no cause for it. If you can’t tell me what you want me to know by simply using English words, then I don’t need to know it. If it requires a web page for me to understand, then fine, point me to a website with a link in the plain text email you send me. HTML was and is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing to ever happen to email. It used to be a safe form of communication. Thanks to your HTML emailers, it’s now prevalent with spam and viruses. 90% of all emails sent on this planet are spam, thanks to HTML.

  • dee

    What else will they do to us? This just makes MS a bigger pain in the butt! Well Plain text will have to be the order for the day… shucks that sux.

  • Yves

    Paulo wrote on February 27, 2007 3:39 PM

    “… images loading from websites”

    Paulo, you’re talking from the viewpoint of an email/web designer. You guys love images that load from websites.

    As an end-user, I HATE it, because it is a prime method for spammers to discover if my email address is valid.

    Microsoft is thinking about us end-users, even if it irritates email/web designers.

  • Ben Clarke

    Thanks David, a very insightful article to find as I have just hit the brick-wall of designing my first HTML email that has to be able to render well in Outlook 2007.

    I have just written a short piece concerning how this may affect designers as a whole – not just the technical side of it but how we consider the consistency in designing for different delivery methods (email and web pages), I think this is something that has been overlooked here.

  • Michael

    is it just my system or is it another glitch in Outlook 2007 that if I create a new e-mail and cut and paste a link to a site and sent all works fine. But if I am browsing and use the file send as link option my CPU resourses hit 99% and it NEVER sends and I have to kill the process?

  • Fernando

    How can i disable the new features of Outlook 2007 abaut HTML e-mail rendering?
    Tank you.

  • Caffeineated

    Halelujah! Why on earth do people seem to need to send gaudily coloured emails, laden down with images, when a straightforward text email would serve just as well, and be clearer to read? Not to mention that pretty much all the spam I recieve used HTML and images. I say we just go back to using text only and attach a document if you feel the need for it.

  • Mark

    Seems that just about every post here on the “Go, Microsoft!” side of the fence is getting it wrong. This change WILL NOT STOP HTML EMAILS from hitting your inbox. It will instead simply ensure that every HTML email you receive will now be three times the size and will degrade far less gracefully. There’s a reason email professionals like CSS and standards compliance, and it’s the same reason web professionals like them: that emails/webpages can be slimmer, more consistent and look good whatever your browsing environment. Oh, and those SPAM emails you keep receiving? They’re using tables and inline styles. Just like everyone else is going to have to from now on.

  • Dave

    Plain text email is ok? or is a MUST have to be forced upon those of us who have different tastes?

    I supposed those of you who hate html email also own b/w televisions, like magazines without the pictures (yeah right), own horses for transportation and farming and on and on.

    Stop with your holy preaching about how pure text email is for God’s sake. Lest you forget that email is a communication medium and that a picture is worth a thousand words.

    I want html – personal preference – but who are you or those geeks at Microsoft to tell me I CAN’T have standards-based HTML anymore than I am to tell you that you MUST have standards-based HTML. How bout this for a fricken brilliant idea – let each and every fricken user choose. There’s a concept of 21st century software – usability and customization.

    Maybe you have all fricken day to read line by line through your text emails looking for relevance and following links to websites, but some of us have more important things to do then sit around all day on our computers. Personally, again, just my preference that I should have while you turn it off, I want the quick picture and I am not going to waste my time following lures to websites.

    For my business, only customers recieve our emails and HTML allows us to effectively use the space to cross-promote items of interest to our users. Now thanks to Microsoft geeks, we have to strongly consider re-learning to use tables. And our emails our about 20-40k which is not a burden to our clients inboxes.

    I can’t stand reading ignorant comments pushing your archaic vision of the internet instead of embracing standards and choices.

  • Dave

    Idiots. It’s the only word that comes to mind when I think of how much of a dumb-ass decision Microsoft made on this one. Really, just makes no sense at all.

  • Tasha

    Micro$oft is a monopoly. Monopolies do whatever they want. I prefer Thunderbird.

  • Sergei

    -Micro$oft is a monopoly. Monopolies do whatever they want. I prefer Thunderbird.-

    right you are!

  • SecurityGuy

    It is now clear that Microsoft made the right call, as this decision protected Outlook 2007 from the ANI vulnerability (http://www.microsoft.com/techn…. E-mail marketing is bad anyway and if it suddenly disappears tomorrow I won’t drop any tears.

  • David Bock

    God I love my Mac. :)

  • Dave Greiner

    SecurityGuy, are you telling me its good they don’t support standards because it means Microsoft is less vulnerable to their own security flaws. Also, you’ll be pleased to know that animated cursors (the cause of this vulnerability) have nothing to do with web standards and are completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

  • Christian

    Everybody dont like Microsoft, but the most use it (other than David Bock) :-)

  • Rui Belo

    I would say Microsoft took email back even more than 5 years, when you think how much damage they have done by going so far backwards with this fantastic tool full of great potential. Those that hate HTML email probably also believe that web pages should contain nothing more than alpha-numeric information on monochrome screens.

    There are some very gifted and brainy people at the Microsoft castle but somewhere in this mixed bunch there must be some very short-sighted clowns who have more money than brains – the dangers of a few inconsiderate monguls who rule a Monopoly.

  • james

    I am so sick of Microsoft this year. From Vista to outlooks everything sucks. What ever happened to the future and progression? Going back 7 years in the computer industry is like a lifetime.

    I just spent 3 hours driving myself nuts trying to figure out how to send an HTML email and it seems I cannot in outlook 2007.

    As I am writing this I have a browser (firefox) open to the apple store and to thunderbird.

    I hate you Microsoft.

  • trama

    Ich erklare meinen Freunden uber diese Seite. Interessieren!

  • Alonso Torres

    ¬øDonde firmo?
    Me uno a la iniciativa de exigir a Microsoft mayor soporte para CSS en Outlook 2007. No se puede seguir con tendencias de diseño de hace 5 años cuando existe la tecnología para ofrecer correos con HTML mucho más atractivos.

  • Tech Evaluator

    Well, what can you say? If Microsoft wants to so distance itself from what consumers want, so be it. All we have to do is wait until Apple or Google (or both) take over the market with their inovative, user-friendly, fast technology. Then we can sit back and watch Microsoft fall off the edge of competition.

    Won’t that be nice to see!

  • Bill Mitchell

    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.

  • Michael Cummings

    The feeling is a little like when 9/11 happened: I just couldn’t believe it at first, it seemed like a joke.

    Just another reason to bring down the Evil Northern Empire

  • Andy Ballingall

    Good job I upgraded to Office 2007, otherwise I’d not have spotted this problem.

    Just when I had started to relax about the standard of CSS support… It’s like being back in the bad old days of Netscape 4 and IE 3.

  • Peter da Silva

    I applaud Microsft’s admission that their HTML rendering engine is fundamentally unfixable, and MUST be replaced. Now they need to upgrade Internet Explorer with one of the Open Source rendering engines (Gecko or KHTML), and maybe we’ll see some REAL improvements in security.

  • Peter da Silva

    “This change WILL NOT STOP HTML EMAILS from hitting your inbox.”

    If Microsoft’s really getting serious about security, it will. 99% of the HTML email that hits my inbox is from people whose computers were infected through Outlook from other copies of the same HTML email that they sent me.

    I suggest you recommend to your clients and indirectly their customers that they switch from using Microsoft Outlook to mail software like Thunderbird that is based on an inherently secure HTML engine.

  • emlak

    I would say Microsoft took email back even more than 5 years, when you think how much damage they have done by going so far backwards with this fantastic tool full of great potential. Those that hate HTML email probably also believe that web pages should contain nothing more than alpha-numeric information on monochrome screens.

    There are some very gifted and brainy people at the Microsoft castle but somewhere in this mixed bunch there must be some very short-sighted clowns who have more money than brains – the dangers of a few inconsiderate monguls who rule a Monopoly.

  • Joe

    Honestly, I’m not all that upset about it.

    If I want a web page, I’ll open the web browser. I don’t need marketing e-mails to look pretty in my inbox. The basic e-mail is fine, and if you want me to look at your pretty site provide a link.

    The only people using all this HTML in e-mail are companies pushing marketing materials so really it’s not going to be a big deal for anyone except those that wanted to make something snazzy to catch our attention. That’s if you get by the spam filter.

    Good rittance.

  • Mark B

    “WTF! We may as well all resort back to plain text again… “

    What a very, very good idea.

    If you want people to see a well designed HTML page using standards compliant code and CSS, then create one, upload it to a web server and then send them a link to it in a well-worded plain text email. If the information you want to convey is worth looking at then they’ll go to it.

    That saves a lot of headaches for everybody as regards bandwidth, privacy, security, legibility, viewing choice, accessibility and standards compliance.

    I don’t give a monkeys about MS’s decision… it’s a good one in my book, not that I would recommend anybody using Word to read and write emails. Personally I have to use Outlook at work, but always have it switched to ‘plain text’ for both sending and replying to emails.

    “Those that hate HTML email probably also believe that web pages should contain nothing more than alpha-numeric information on monochrome screens.”

    Far from it – I’m a very visual person who endeavours to create attractive visual websites that are still non-the-less legible, accessible, low-bandwidth and standards compliant. They tend to have very clean code and the styling is usually seperate from the content. This means that they should (hopefully) be viewable on any browser on any platform, be it IE7 on a PC, Safari on a Mac, a text reader for the blind, or ‘alphanumeric information on a monochrome screen’ for those who’ve resisted the upgrade virus and are still using DOS on a 486 ;)

  • Jannik

    Disregarding the whole (pointless) HTML vs. text mail issue, one of the things that most people seem to overlook is the removal of the ALT tag in images. No matter what rich content mails are here, and they are here to stay. Images in mails can have great value for both the sender and receiver but that value just decreased with the death of the ALT tag. What happened to usability? Are people with disabilities no longer considered to read mails? And with the ALT tag people who were scared of image tracking could at least see a short description of the blocked image. That has all gone now.

  • Ted Wiberg

    This sucks, absolutly!

    I cant understand Microsoft at all, what are they doing? Taking development backwards… :( This sucks bigtime!

    / Ted Wiberg

  • SJ

    They’re only blocking things that shouldn’t be in e-mail anyhow. And if it causes a few people to stop using LookOut, then the Internet will become a very slightly more secure place.

  • KK

    Microsoft never liked designers. They must continue to keep the world at the lowest common denominator. Which is the bar they set.

  • Dan

    I hate microsoft outlook 2007…to toooooo to slow. I just cant stand it. i need an alternative…AGRRRRRRR!

  • Chrisd

    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.

  • BobbiB

    Hello developers, always amusing to see the “this is how things should be” crowd.

    Any communications medium that can generate money for marketing messages, will contain the highest resolution media that can be jammed down it.
    This will NEVER CHANGE, so get used to it. Prepare for HiDef 3D Video interactive email in 2050, you HAVE NO CHOICE.

    Your snail mailbox contains many VERY EXPENSIVE catalogs and brochures printed in color. Guess what, they’re not going away either.

    Unless YOU devise a business process that makes MORE money by NOT SENDING, rather than SENDING high resolution marketing communications, then you have a 0% chance of being valid in your assertation that email “should be text only”. Money talks, whining walks.

    Regarding “your bandwidth”, which you pay for and support on your server end – it will eventually be connected to an Internet which you AND the HiRez emailers will be paying for directly, from start to finish – just like the Post Office or Fed Ex. So enjoy how cheap it is now…and PRAY that you can get some HiRez sponsors to sponsor your email pipeline so you can even afford to offer it to your employees or have it at home. It’s not a “right”, it’s a commercial service.

    We may very well see more people (including businesses) convert over to gmail and other webbased email services. And if you think that they’re going to provide it for free without any commercial messaging – you are naive.

    The days of unlimited “free” (at least packaged in your ISP costs) will eventually be over. Stock up on those virtual stamps, you’ll need them.

  • Damien Jorgensen – Cardiff

    I dont think it makes much of a difference, you can still read the email

  • Samisosa

    I’m one of those few users who have both Macs and PCs…and this only confirms my theory that the monopoly the Microsoft holds over the business world is unacceptable. I’m amazed at the grand canyon difference between the two systems–my Macs are stable at least 99% of the time, and the PCs…I could only guess we have problems at least 40% of the time. The difference in efficiency alone should make any business-minded individual take notice. The corporate world has come to accept that Microsoft’s new upgrades will be FULL of bugs–which is absolutely ridiculous. I can assure you that the Mac community is not daring each other to upgrade to Apple’s new operating systems.
    Aside from my Micro-ranting–I do understand the need for corporate business to be compatible with one another. There has to be a better way! I hate to say it–but could the government break up the giant? If we could encourage competition, we would not have to accept the blatant stupidity that Microsoft consistently delivers.
    If all else fails–don’t upgrade!

  • Scotty Do

    @Chrisd “I feel safer using an application that reads e-mails in a ‘protected’ environment. I want to see text, not run scripts and javascript.”

    ‘Scripts and Javascript’ are not allowed in email and are automatically stripped out of just about all email clients if they happened to be put in. Like it or not images, colors, and careful placement of content actually help you read and comprehend better. Marketing and getting your attention is just a single part of the equation in email presentation.

    To me, seeing lines and lines and lines of text in an email is ancient and boring. I want to move on.

  • Johnny Wad

    There should be an option to active/deactivate certain ‘security’ features. Microsoft as always puts shit out before they ask the end user how usable their new product will actually be. They dropped the ball because they monopolize the compition. Oh well, other e-mail clients are out there.

  • Roger

    I just redesigned our email template to something I’m particularly proud of, only to find out that I now have to redesign it AGAIN to make it look more like what we just left. This really sucks.

    This reminds me of Word 6 for Macintosh, which was a crappy version of Word for Windows that was just copied over to Mac. The Mac community threw it back and just kept using Word 5.1. I say it’s time for a repeat!

  • Scott

    Everyone is complaining about how much HTML doesn’t belong in emails. If the companies sending these emails were good, they would allow you to set your contact email preferences to either plain text or HTML. I usually design and HTML email and then a text version as well. The system recognizes the user’s preference and sends the appropriate format.

    People are also complaining about how HTML has no business in email. I would confidently say that our customers are those older folks who are easily impressed with graphics rather than plain text. Plain text would probably bring down our email revenue.

    Someone said something about file size. There’s no reason for a well-designed email to get anywhere close to 2mb in size. I designed some image-heavy email newsletters that haven’t even broken the 30kb size. If someone sent me an HTML newsletter 2mb in size, then I probably would unsubscribe from their email list.

  • derrickgh

    What upsets me the most is that my “daily dilbert” email doesnt render in Outlook 2007. I have no reason to come to work anymore!!!!!

  • KeefyBoy

    Just upgraded the entire Office Suite just to make use of Outlook’s “Busines Contacts” … am absolutely gob-smacked at how bad our [and other] HTML emails look. Our carefully crafted, small sized messages that make use of validated HTML and CSS look as ghastly as a print job prepared in Word!
    I haven’t followed the text versus HTML debate for email but here’s my take: Email, just like what comes through the letterbox, should accept both – and as we’ve all learned good HTML and CSS – why not use these techniques to deliver eye catching, low-weight messages? I don’t like SPAM as much as the next guy, but there is a business need to get a message out to subscribed customers and text email just doesn’t have the impact.
    DIssappointed – just a [BIG] bit.

  • Kriz

    I just cannot believe it…..

  • Break_UP_Microsoft

    Um…can’t you see the OBVIOUS reason Microsoft is doing this?

    They are quite aware (and afraid of) the competitive threat that Google’s Office apps are to Microsoft’s long term future.

    YES, Google Office Apps have a LONG Way to go.

    However, if Microsoft ties Outlook to Word.
    they can more tightly integrate into their office apps, making it more difficult for an Enterprise to pick and choose the product stack they deploy.

    (i.e. break the functionality of outside Word clients).

    Microsoft has tried (and so far failed) to create their own (thus the industry) standard for HTML markup / Web based standards.(think Frontpage…to name a few.

    Fast forward to Office 2007. If they succeed in cramming this standard down the throats of Corporate America. Web Developers, and other Desktop Apps developers will be “Forced” to follow their standard.

    Microsoft can then lock down the API functionality of other apps (think Open Office) to integrate into Outlook.
    (or, at the very least, Microsoft will try to charge some type of API fee), thus making it cost prohibitive for an Enterprise to even bother trying to migrate to another Office App. (Open Office Or Google Apps).

    Microsoft has been shot down on many occasions when trying to force a Microsoft standard down the throats of their users. One can only hope this is yet ANOTHER failure of Microsoft’s Monopoly power.

    (my humble opinion—Microsoft should be broken up a. la. Big Bells were years ago).

  • ChrisWilsonsMurderer

    so… it’s not OK to “break the web” which is why the IE team will continue to drag their feet…but is IS ok to BREAK e-mail? wtf?

  • Graham McLellan

    Microsoft suck, that’s why I now use a Mac and Mac Mail rocks!

  • Music

    Wow, that is huge news, and a huge disappointment. I don’t understand why Microsoft continues to do very bizarre things. In a way, I’m starting to see the writing on the wall here: Microsoft used to be at the forefront of innovation – OK, well, perhaps innovation is the wrong word since Microsoft has more or less “borrowed” everything they’ve created from someone else. However, they’ve always improved it, or at least integrated it and created something useful. But lately, it seems like other companies and software, like Mozilla’s Firefox, have been beating Microsoft to the punch. First there was tabbed browsing, now Firefox is much more CSS-friendly. Then you’ve got Adobe clearly leading in the world of graphic design, photo manipulation, and website creation. Pretty soon, the only thing Microsoft will have going for it is Windows, and even that may not last thanks open source operating systems.

  • ingilizce

    I’m surprised they’re not using Safari to render the emails, since they rip off and botch everything else Apple does

  • Althea

    It’s every web/graphic designer’s nightmare! I designed an email newsletter with simple headers and borders using tables and all the alignment is off in Outlook, but it displays perfectly in all browsers and other email programs. So I ended up having to remove the borders! ArrGGgghhHH!

  • website designer

    I am only new to html email design (and i must say to web design also), and i must say that i am designing my websites using standard tables anyway, which may seem outdated from an experienced web designers point of view, but i have learned everything i know about web design myself from trial and error, and quite frankly i have never encountered this style of page layout that you talk about until today…

    So these restrictions don’t really seem to affect me that much… the problem of background colours disappearing once another nested table is inserted is something to remember, but i still think that it’s quite possible to work within these restrictions..

    I guess its a different story if you have developed a method of operation (over a long period of time by the sounds of some of you) that is now redundant…

    But you can still insert an image, you can still markup text, you can still frame things within tables and div’s. Definately no reason to go back to plain text surely…?

  • Marcis Gasuns

    I’ve never been a fan of Microsoft products. But, guys, I use Windows starting
    from version 3.1 and never had a Mac. I could even add – never even had the
    money to buy one. So one could say – doen’t like it, do not use it. And what
    do I get? Unix? Sure it has no viruses and works stable. But it has no GUI as
    well. So I keep on using Windows. For now it’s XP, but 2000 was just ok.

    The only thing I really use is the good old Outlook. It works from time to
    time and if you are not going to hurry or if you think that Turtle-power is
    just for you, than go on. Every time, before launching that auld crap I do a
    full backup and just lay down and enjoy the music. Windows is a piece of %#%$%,
    but it’s the best piece we have and there is no alternative for that. Or am
    I wrong?

  • roman

    I’ve never been a fan of Microsoft products. But, guys, I use Windows starting from version 3.1 and never had a Mac. I could even add – never even had the money to buy one. So one could say – doen’t like it, do not use it. And what do I get? Unix? Sure it has no viruses and works stable. But it has no GUI as well. So I keep on using Windows. For now it’s XP, but 2000 was just ok.

  • Roger Gordon

    Great. I just spend the better part of a day coding an emailer and figured
    “I’m sure outlook will at least support IE6”

    Then, when things didn’t work, I came across this site. Back to the drawing board for me, and now I have to learn how to use tables for layout (I’ve only ever used CSS.) How stupid this is.

    I was slowly regaining faith in M$, but this just shattered all of that. Bunch of idiots.

  • Rizky

    I actually think that microsoft are up to something… big

  • Moo

    Nice. Pull the posts that don’t march in lockstep with the herd.

  • maria

    But it has no GUI as well. So I keep on using Windows. For now it’s XP, but 2000 was just ok.

  • Dave Greiner

    Sorry moo, but we tend to delete deliberately inflammatory anonymous posts.

  • Alex M.

    Actually this is a good thing that Outlook won’t support HTML garbage like background images and colors. Who needs that?!! I have always used Rich text or plan text emails. I have no clue why anyone would use HTML email other than spammers to hammer you with pictures of their wonderful products.
    GO MS!

  • IHateOutlook

    I don’t understand what they were thinking when they had this idea … I think it was something like ” Let’s make design even worse .” I think they had a contest .. “The worst idea ever .. Worse than Internet Explorer 6” :)) and a fucking “smart” man won it … Let’s make a petition or something .. because now with this concept .. the email design is over .. even if we can use tables and matte colors it’s not the same thing and the newsletter you will receive from big companies will look even worse.

  • BigDumbDinosaur

    Why don’t you Outlook users get aa real E-mail client and quit using that lame, virus-prone Microsoft crap? Who cares if Outlook can’t properly render HTML? Most of it is spam.

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  • HR

    yet another reason why the world should stop using MS crap and send them to work in mc donald’s

  • HR

    yet another reason why the world should stop using MS crap and send them to work in mc donald’s

  • Sam

    Like Rikzy, I think Microsoft is up to something big too.


    Microsoft got bloated because winning the OS wars in the ’80s meant they didn’t have to try anymore. Whatever they did just became the standard. Same after the Netscape/IE business in the ’90s.

    The problem is there are REAL (even BETTER) alternatives to Microsoft products now. It’s called competition. And Microsoft hasn’t had any real competition in the better part of two decades.

    Microsoft is now to a point where they are only capable of playing catch-up in the core consumer market. Their OS has fallen behind Apple (and even Kubuntu). Their browser had its tail kicked by Firefox (and still hasn’t recovered).

    The problem is Microsoft can’t see a world without themselves in it, while more and more users are being exposed to very viable alternatives.

    I say keep making CSS compliant HTML emails. Just point users in the direction of a better alternative for email than Outlook. That way, anyone using Outlook will be forced to read text emails or pretty much nothing at all. Meanwhile, Thunderbird and other email clients will get free adverts.

    Microsoft should stop thinking it can just make massive changes like this and that the market will just take it.

    It’s 2007, not 1997. Microsoft is not the market leader. It’s just the big, fat playground bully desperately to convince everyone he is still relevant in a grown-up world.

  • tramadol

    I say keep making CSS compliant HTML emails. Just point users in the direction of a better alternative for email than Outlook. That way, anyone using Outlook will be forced to read text emails or pretty much nothing at all. Meanwhile, Thunderbird and other email clients will get free adverts.

  • biosavvy

    It’s Simple, just don’t use Outlook 2007. Evolution has Exchange extensions. Wait, take this one step further and get rid of Exchange TOO!! There are many many great open-source packages that do the job. Get out of the M$ rut!

  • Cypher

    Hmmm…I have a question. Why are you guys using CSS in HTML email anyway? If you’re executing a real HTML email based campaign, then you can’t use CSS. The fact that previous versions of Outlook have been able to render it was a blessing. Some clients, like Lotus Notes don’t render it at all.

    I think we sometimes forget that MS Office is a “Corporate” style email client. Hence the name MS “Office”. Microsoft isn’t developing software for the home user. They key market is the business sector.

    If you’re executing small, highly targeted email campaigns and you know and can influence your audience , then do so. Recommend that they swtich to a different client. But if you’re exectuing large campaigns and don’t have control of your audiences choices, then I think you should consider adhering to standards, which do not include CSS.

    Just a thought, but sometimes it’s all about proper use of software. We’ve been lucky for years and now that they closed the hole we’re pissed.

  • Cypher

    Hmmm…I have a question. Why are you guys using CSS in HTML email anyway? If you’re executing a real HTML email based campaign, then you can’t use CSS. The fact that previous versions of Outlook have been able to render it was a blessing. Some clients, like Lotus Notes don’t render it at all.

    I think we sometimes forget that MS Office is a “Corporate” style email client. Hence the name MS “Office”. Microsoft isn’t developing software for the home user. They key market is the business sector.

    If you’re executing small, highly targeted email campaigns and you know and can influence your audience , then do so. Recommend that they swtich to a different client. But if you’re exectuing large campaigns and don’t have control of your audiences choices, then I think you should consider adhering to standards, which do not include CSS.

    Just a thought, but sometimes it’s all about proper use of software. We’ve been lucky for years and now that they closed the hole we’re pissed.

  • sr

    Microsoft has a 55-60% share of the corporate email market not 80-75%. And really, I think they have proven time and time again that they should not be “making the rules”. When are people going to wake up? There is true-innovation going on out there and none of it comes from Redmond.

  • Fahrrad Tipps

    What did you expect – its not Apple! :-)

  • Cypher

    I don’t know what the exact percentage is, but I do know that over 50% is a big share of the market. Too big to be ignored.

    My original question still stands. Why are you using CSS in corporate email campaigns. Lotus Notes doesn’t read CSS either, but no one is complaining about that software.

    I’m not a Microsoft fan, or an Apple fan for that matter. Technology and software are tools and like any toolbox, you have more than one type wrench, screwdriver, etc. If you’re looking for a one-size fits all, then you need to wake up. You work with what’s available and you design and develop for the middle ground to cover the most area.

    The thing I hate about threads like these is that it usually just turns into a MS complaint forum, instead of a discussion group. MS is MS. They aren’t behaving any differently than they have for the past 20 years. If you’re not used to it by now, then you’re in the wrong business.

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  • Frank Meyer

    Personally I don’t have a problem with this change, and think designing emails using CSS is crazy.

    There are dozens of popular webmail services out there that have limited/zero support for CSS. When I started designing HTML emails I tested some mail clients and webmail systems and concluded that the only safe option was old-school tables & font colors.

    It always amazes me when I receive an HTML email in Gmail that is completely unreadable – either because they’re using CSS or designing for 800-width. Mail clients generally don’t have that display width available. Microsoft MSDN emails are actually really bad for that.

    Who cares if Outlook has good CSS support? Unlike regular web pages, there’s no way for the outgoing mail server to tell if a user is on Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail or the mail client on their phone. Any sensible developer will accept that and design for 95%+ of their users.

  • Christiaan JG

    @Frank Meyer

    That is all good and dandy, sir. However, with 2007 – Your gonna start having some lovely issues with simple things as just putting background color to a table, and having for example a DIV in it to format some other text in it and stuff and/or for example having a image in the same table, which will return that simple background color to, you guessed it, nothing.

    And don’t get me started on padding/margin issues within Outlook 2007, which this is related too. Wheter or not you prefer to make table nested HTML mails, or in the way it should be made (following proper web standards – http://www.w3schools.com) and so on – I think we all can agree that a certain level of support for proper code rendering should be in place.

    The browsers have been able to do it, so should mail client developers. I actually didn’t know of this about Outlook 2007 until this morning when a client saw something entirely different than what we sent out.

    Now, my job revolves around making these e-mails, and with this change I just see tons of bad years ahead of me. Cause in the end, everyone that is using Outlook 2003, will eventually start using Outlook 2007. Ofcourse, not all users use Outlook 2007, far from it. But the fact still remains, that making a good looking email with proper coding, in one single template, which is supported by what we had before this Outlook rendering change (ie, Outlook 2003, Thunderbird, Outlook Express, and the other various popular clients and webmails), Lotus (don’t get me started on that P.O.S) and now supporting Outlook 2007 Word rendering.

    It is such a bee-nest of pain to even start thinking of how one are to make emails now, that are such that they do work the way they are intended. I’m feeling obliged to just make my emails with a big red buttong – CLICK HERE – to read the email, instead of making it as an email anymore. It’s sad, but that’s how I feel. Doubt my clients agree but hey.

    I just hope something can eventually be done in terms of webstandards for HTML email, cause this is really getting out of hand. Before we only had the big baddy Lotus, but now we have a new contender for the most stupid email program ever put out – Microsoft Outlook 2007.

    Welcome to the next generation, the future…

    Yeah, right.

    Christiaan “Calen” Gieles

  • Jayemes Christophersen

    All I can say is what do you expect? Microsoft either copies or buys what they can’t develop. They are easily 10 years behind Apple. Easily.

    I only wish people would open their eyes and realize they don’t have to live with this POS. You shouldn’t have to pay for a product that doesn’t work. Would you buy a new car if you knew it was going to break down on the way home? Of course not! So why buy a Microsoft product when you know you will cause you so many headaches and problems down the road?

  • artist

    I’m simply trying to place a background on my email. It seems web based emails strip the body tag and outlook now strips the table background tag. This is crazy!

  • Web designers

    design moves forward, microsoft moves it back…

  • Ralf in CH

    I just found this discussion, and I’m glad I found it before “downgrading” to 2007 …
    Thanks, guys, and thanks Microsoft for letting me save some money for the time being …

  • Andy

    Just found this article and yes it pisses me off no end.

  • Car Audio

    design moves forward, microsoft moves it back…

  • Sarah

    I have recently discovered that nested tables also wreak havoc within Outlook 2007 when the nested table contains text where the shell is images only. It pushes all of the images out of alignment. It can be solved by giving strict inline style to the text table but you’d think that the containing table would restrict the column width since it does in every other email client – not so in 2007.


  • IT Email Support

    If you have to try to sell your wares through a medium that does not have an opt out like telephone and snail mail systems, then like snail mail… put it in an envelope i.e. design your nice news sheets (marketing have been doing this for donkeys years) and attach it to an email. Or as others have pointed out; put it on a web site and invite people to come and read it.

    Email is the tool it was always meant to be… but now the SPAMMERS have practically destroyed it.

    Plain text is very obvious, not a point for arguement.

  • Funny

    This is good news. It is about time people stop putting HTML in emails.

  • Joyful

    Hurrah! Anything that makes HTML in email uglier is something that makes HTML in email less desirable–as it should be.

    HTML doesn’t belong in email–if you NEED to format things with HTML, then put it on a web page, or include it as an attachment.

    Good riddance.

  • Manuel Montoya

    get the issue:

    this will not stop HTML emails, this will display WRONG the HTML emails

    As linux user, I am just laughing… poor people.

  • Alex Brown

    Here is an idea – STOP USING HTML IN EMAIL! No one wants to read that crap anyway!

  • Jan

    Oh, cool. Perhaps someone will finally realize that E-mail is a much better place if people stick to plain text and focus on content, rather than form. I’m all for it.

  • Anonymous

    html in email = delete so this is a complete non issue

  • Chris

    Bottom line – designers get too worked up. Ultimately “content” is predominantly text. Personally, I say down with all CSS. Black and White webpages with h elements and ordered lists only. Then maybe we’ll get back to a world where ideas rise due to their inherent value, not their presentation.

  • gwz

    Using HTML in emails is a bad habit anyway. Email=plain text. Email with html=spam.

  • ahem

    HTML emails are crap anyways. I don’t understand how people can stand them. My client is set to “textmode” so I don’t have to endure pictures and flashy stuff.

  • William

    After all these features been dumped by Outlook 2007, one would think it would be faster for Outlook 2007 to handle HTML messages. But NO, it still the slowest email clients I haven seen, making my P4 machine into a 486.

  • Jan

    Oh, cool. Perhaps someone will finally realize that E-mail is a much better place if people stick to plain text and focus on content, rather than form. I’m all for it.

  • Jack Carpenter

    I just an garden variety computer user who has used Outlook since the beginning.
    I bought bothe Vista Premium and Office 2007.

    Both represent a nightmare and a disaster.

    In order for me to do my work it take hour to work with these products. I do not have the time to relearn doing things I am used to doing in previous versions of Outlook. How stupid to remove sensible software action and replace them with difficult new requirement (using strange interface which leaves out valuable action or give you partial relief). I thought Microsoft was supposed to make using a computer easier.

    Jack Carpenter

  • J-Rub

    As a developer, designer, and avid online shopper, I see a great use for HTML/CSS in email. An example is any customer contact email i.e. order confirmation. I will always prefer a well laid out page of the items I’ve ordered and order total as opposed to a text blob that is difficult to parse with my eyes.

    There is a level of readability that is lost when all text is the same size and there are no visual elements to direct the eye. It’s called usability and the same people that are screaming “no html in my email” still want improved usability in every other iPhone, website, or other gadget/technology in their life. Those people contradict themselves.

    Remember that we don’t “read” web pages, we scan them, and the same can be true for an email. I want to quickly be able to scan an email for the info I need: an order number, order total, etc. I’d prefer all of the company’s copyrights and weasel clauses stay small and lighter color — out of my way so I can get to the real information.

  • Raven Morris

    This is Microsoft’s most obvious attempt at vendor lock-in, but I think this one is going to turn around and bite them in the ass.

    There are hundreds of thousands of shopping sites, corporate users, sign up forms, invoices, ticketing information, etc. which is sent out to the end user, automatically by the system, which is HTML formatted. If even 10% of those sites are rendered unreadable by this change, that will be a *major* disruption to companies profits, having to deal with these issues.

    More than half the web sites out there that issue automatic e-mails use HTML formatting. Many of the sites don’t even have a web developer anymore after the initial setup, there will be a lot of tech support issues going around over this.

    I don’t think Microsoft will get away with this one, it is going to cause too many of Microsoft’s paying customers too much trouble.

  • recipe

    -Micro$oft is a monopoly. Monopolies do whatever they want. I prefer Thunderbird.-

    right you are!

  • elVakk

    Thunderbird is the new shit.
    Microsoft is going down.

  • MWK

    M/S is going backward instead of forward. Not supporting animated GIFs is unbelievable. M/S may think 2007 is used primarily by business but that ‘s just not the case. Bring back the fuctionality of older versions of Outlook. Give us HTML support via Internet Explorer, not Word.

  • graham

    Given the slow take up of e-commerce for smaller shops – who are always nervous of paying out money when margins are tight enough as it is – I can see some giving up completely on branded email

  • Dragan

    It seems that there are two camps here with completely expectable response to the new Outlook philosophy: “Satisfied Receivers” (frustrated by the amount of HTML spam previous versions tolerated) and “Dissatisfied Senders” (frustrated by the fact that their glitzy nonsensical formatting is finally in jeopardy). You can tell where I’m going with this argument…

    I do agree that the E-mail is heavily abused medium and that, generally speaking, its future is greatly compromised by advocates of stylized messages. What is wrong in sending a URL to a more “flashy” presentation in a message body? In the end, there are many other E-mail clients so convince your receivers in benefits of your HTML messages and they’ll potentially move away from the “Evil Empire.” Be sure you articulate your arguments in plain text so they receive it ;)

  • Iain

    I have been running an html newsletter for gobarging.com for over4 years now – 54 monthly editions…(record..?) it also goes out in text versions via Vertical response – a great company btw…

    I just got Outlook 2007 loaded and when I received my latest test for edition 54 was aghast to see my images and layout totally screwed. I had to revert from CSS float commands to align, hspace and vspace – deprecated tags..to get it to work….that’s annoying, but ok so what..?

    Well apart from going backwards, all my previous 53 editions are now unreadable – so I have to think about going back through them all and changing out the floats – quite a task for a newsletter with a lot of images and pages – used very successfully to market the products to an opt in list of some 14-16 thousand readers…

    Thanks Microsoft, I feel so much more secure….and I had to lose the nice snow effect header flash file because – yes you’ve guessed it, it was a security risk – all the virtual snow might have harmed somebody’s screen or something….ah well….thanks again, enjoy the pizza in the dark room and feel safe from the rest of us……

  • InternetMasters.org

    For almost every piece of software there is always a ton of great alternatives.
    You should consider testing and using open source and free software.

  • Marnix Bras


    A background image in the body-tag is working in outlook 2007
    be sure to add a 100% wide table as well in your HTML, with the same background image…. some webmailclients do filter the body-tag.

    Background positioning in 2007 is not possible, so be sure to make it big enough, that is does not repeat unwanted (e.g. a vertical gradient of 1 px wide and 2000 px high repeats only horizontal)

  • Ryan

    One of the CSS styles that don’t work in Outlook 2007 is the overflow style for DIV’s. I use it to keep a particular cell from wrapping or stretching when the descriptive text inside goes over a certain length. Does anyone know of an equivalent for either DIV’s or tables that will work in Outlook 2007?

  • SterlingSolved

    Microsoft has incredible vision.
    My guess is this move is _absolutely_ designed to limit the email client platform capability of Outlook 2007. Over the last year, we have witnessed a significant increase in PDF-based newsletters. (and consequently, it is my belief, PDF-based virii and spam) Long-term there will be a “need” for more ‘active’ content. The microsoft solution that I will *bet* will be (undoubtedly) fully-integrated and wholly supported? Microsoft SilverLight. Imagine an electronic communications center with full video and “rich interactive application” technology as good as – better – than video games today. Thats the future. Full development product lines as well, with Microsoft Expression Studio and Microsoft Visual Studio. All in support of the Microsoft World…

  • Word is terrible

    Not sure if someone has commented on this already but MS Word 2007 is terrible. Every time I use it, I start going on the web to see if I am the only person who has these problems just to reassure myself that I am not that much of an idiot. It’s not simply a matter of getting use to it. The categories of functions are unintuitive and it goes against all the conventions that MS has built in the past to create a new look and feel that has no substance. E.g. it’s harder to find something and there is no pay off once you locate the feature. It’s not anything new or improved. it seems that did some sort of grouping analysis based on the designer’s perspective of how people use this thing and then voila… get use to it users! Read the manual users! Take this tutorial users! It’s your fault… Not only that, no one can read .docx files as I am the only idiot that brought the 2007 version (unless I save it as a .doc… so what’s the point of the upgrade?)does any one know a way to go back to the “classic” 2000 view from MS 2007?

  • Anonymous

    The only good thing to say about this is that it will help reduce file sizes if everyone quick uses HTML which may not be a bad thing. It seems like nobody cares about overhead anymore files get bigger, programs get bigger and our computers have to get more powerful just to keep even. Programmers have become so lazy and everything is getting huge and cumbersome! Give me back DOS!

  • I Hate Microsoft

    This has caused so many problems that it is unbelievable Microsoft would do this. Bill Gates is an arse and an interfering c*nt with his b*tch wife swanning around Africa etc pretending to care when they are really just making more money from their ‘foundation’.

    They are killing Africans with their ‘vaccination’ programme. Evil b*stards.

    Anyway, I have switched to Open Office and Thunderbird. Quality, free and not Microsoft. Is Bill on the Celebrity Deathwatch list? Surely it can’t be much longer…

  • PKayne

    Microsoft.. WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What have I done to you. I am only a lowly web designer. Is it because I have accepted CSS and XHTML into my life and have forsaken tables? Is it because I have strived to deliver semantic code and promote accessibility balanced with aesthetic functionality only to result in a richer user experience? What was wrong with that?!

    At times I have tried to work you, my Dark Lord. After realizing that the CSS ways would not working out well on Outlook 2003, I secretly indulged in some table tagging. After I was done I was so ashamed but my email newsletter worked out and now I get this news. What the hell, why do you want me to use you WYSIWYG whoremess Word so much.

    No, I rebuke thee! Stand back Microsoft, stand back!

  • designforge

    I’ve had enough of fanboys harping on about “stop whining – use firefox/thunderbord/macs”. Take a step into the real world and think about how it affects real freelance designers who have to conform to their large corporate clients standards – this move is archaic – like so many others I can design an email nice and quickly using defined standards knowing that it will have at least a 90% compliance with browsers/email clients – now I have to spend 2/3 times as long coding them up without the ability to charge my clients a great deal more… thanks microsoft! What the hell were you thinking!

  • Julie Hyry

    Just a word of warning: I installed the MS Validator tool in Dreamweaver 8, validated my code and after a few tweaks, it passed with flying colors. When sent to a small test group of Outlook 2007 users, (including myself) it crashed every time. So don’t think having the validator will save your emails. Best just to bite the bullet and dumb it down.

  • welshmnt

    Good. I know you don’t want to hear. But get the formatting out! They are welcome to have twenty different incompetent HTML rendering engines, as long as is a strip HTML option, who cares.

    Entourage even insists on displaying image attachments inline with email body. AAARRRGGHHHHH!

  • Bill Fant

    I’ve been a web developer for over 13 years now and I have WASTED SO MUCH TIME because Microsoft cannot develop decent products nor get onboard with standards!!! Many colleagues and other developers feel the same. It really blows they have the most market share when they cannot even play well with others. This is one of many reasons people are dumping MS for Linux or Mac.

    Time for a class-action lawsuit?!?!

    Developers should be compensated for all the lost hours and dollars due to Microsoft’s garbageware and lack of support for standards. It’s almost impossible to comprehend sometimes. I really wish I knew how to go about getting a class-action lawsuit organized and moving forward. I’m sick of this crap already!!!

  • Bill Fant

    Ok, ok…. egg of face… maybe.

    I just realized this is an article from 2007 and not 2008. The link was just emailed to me and I was immediately enraged thinking of all the lost hours due to MS’s lack of support for standards and their shoddy software. Anyhow, not sure where this issue stands at the moment, but I’m looking further into it. The two UPDATE links above didn’t help much.

  • Not Surprised

    HTML email is here. Many companies use it in their newsletters that are sent to other companies, a good percentage of which use Outlook (as it is nicely tied to Exchange).

    The change is NOT due to negligence, security, or hatred toward the email designer.

    It’s a calculated move that is about holding ground. Digging in and slowing the hemoraging. They are losing the emerging markets (Mobile OS’s, All things media, and now gaming is looking weak). And it’s looking hopeful that most websites will be standards-based one day. On that note, please stop developing IE-dependent websites people. It’s just as wrong as everybody feels this Outlook move is.

    We’ve all seen it countless times, but, for some reason, do not realize what is being done to us or we just keep letting it slide. Rather than making great standards-based products, they will implement technology that is not only exclusive, but preys upon users in markets where they have an advantage (market share).

    Stop hitting the snooze button. It’s time to wake up now.

  • UpdateBoy

    Outlook 2007 has been out for quite a while and I have been using it since it’s launch. So far I have yet to see 1 email that does not display correctly, the only error I have encountered is from an enterprise application that was sending links that outlook could not understand, the vendor realized this and fixed it quickly without too much harm.

    As for the so called marketing emails (SPAM to me), they are being filtered by my spams filters and I could care less if they do not work properly.

    On the other side, MS did this change because they lost the legal battle and had to separate IE from their products. So I guess you either agree with the people that thinks that MS should let others have part of the market (means accept also this change that clearly benefit email products that work better than Outlook), or you think Microsoft should rule the world (means, let them whatever they want to do).

    If you paid for MS products (like me), you know what you pay for and you agree to pay that amout for what you got. If you don’t like it, simply go look for better products. If you don’t pay Microsoft and you are not happy with what they do, simply work with other vendors. You choose your business, Microsoft do not impose his own law to you.

  • NotSpam

    For those who say that HTML is only used for spam (or even newsletters), you’re wrong. I use it all the time for reporting from our internal applications for our users. Putting things in a color coded table does wonders for readability over plain text.

    And this coming from someone who personally uses as much open source as possible and sets his default outgoing e-mail format to plain text.

    To say this isn’t an issue is foolish.

  • tflip

    Microsoft are totally anti open source. They have only been brought there kicking and screaming, most notably by the EU. Why would they want to support anything other than a system that demands that only if you are using MS products will things render properly? Outlook express was just a stalking horse for Outlook and Office the way IE explorer worked for Windows and the net. They don’t want you be online unless you are using their product, pure and simple. Good old rapacious capitalism, with a monopoly the ultimate aim.

    You also get all the problems of a monopoly of course, crap design, poor response to problems, bloatware with bells and whistles you won’t need and can’t find if you do, and of course it will break and need updates continuously. Outlook has always been an extremely poor program, one of the worst in the range of MS products, up there with Access. Not being able to compete with Thunderbird or Eudora in the design and reliability stakes, and facing a new danger in Google what do we expect? A quick retreat into anti-competitive trading using market share as leverage. Operating in a civilized manner with other programs, forget it. Office 2007, and Outlook in particular, are little more than reactionary thugs waiting to mug your computer use.

    The best thing we can all do is deny Microsoft market share. If you send emails add a little note in the signature saying that the email you send is always open and compliant and if the recipient is having trouble reading it they are probably a victim of Microsoft’s anti-competition policy. Suggest they switch to Thunderbird as a default email program and put in a link to the software. You might want to put in a link to Open Office as well.

    In the meantime all hail the Chinese and the Russians who treat MS with the contempt it deserves and who will no doubt soon have some very competitive alternative products and operating systems out there.

  • tflip

    Microsoft are totally anti open source. They have only been brought there kicking and screaming, most notably by the EU. Why would they want to support anything other than a system that demands that only if you are using MS products will things render properly? Outlook express was just a stalking horse for Outlook and Office the way IE explorer worked for Windows and the net. They don’t want you be online unless you are using their product, pure and simple. Good old rapacious capitalism, with a monopoly the ultimate aim.

    You also get all the problems of a monopoly of course, crap design, poor response to problems, bloatware with bells and whistles you won’t need and can’t find if you do, and of course it will break and need updates continuously. Outlook has always been an extremely poor program, one of the worst in the range of MS products, up there with Access. Not being able to compete with Thunderbird or Eudora in the design and reliability stakes, and facing a new danger in Google what do we expect? A quick retreat into anti-competitive trading using market share as leverage. Operating in a civilized manner with other programs, forget it. Office 2007, and Outlook in particular, are little more than reactionary thugs waiting to mug your computer use.

    The best thing we can all do is deny Microsoft market share. If you send emails add a little note in the signature saying that the email you send is always open and compliant and if the recipient is having trouble reading it they are probably a victim of Microsoft’s anti-competition policy. Suggest they switch to Thunderbird as a default email program and put in a link to the software. You might want to put in a link to Open Office as well.

    In the meantime all hail the Chinese and the Russians who treat MS with the contempt it deserves and who will no doubt soon have some very competitive alternative products and operating systems out there.

  • Ryan

    Two words: OUTLOOK SUCKS!
    end of story or find another email client.

    We need an open source project that will be the new outlook!

  • How to view all e-mail message

    On the Tools menu, click Trust Center, and then click E-mail Security. Under Read as Plain Text, click to select the Read all standard mail in plain text check box.

    This option lets you view all e-mail messages in plain text format.

    At work, connected to Exchange, this works perfect.
    At home I just use anothe e-mailer … The Bat!


  • nate

    This is just as ridiculous as every other Microsoft genius product. Clearly the hate the world and seek to destroy us all by creating the worlds worst software. Awesome.

  • Get OVER It

    NEWSFLASH: CSS doesn’t magically render an email, a web page or anything else “good”. Email designers, earn your keep and work with the given arena presented, whatever it is. End of story. Be a good designer. Outlook will change, CSS will change, HTML will change…THEY ALWAYS DO. Rely and lean most heavily on your skills and good design, not your tools (however good or bad they may be). I work on email marketing and design every day. Get over it or start your own Microsoft that creates an email client that is most of the market share. These are your choices.

  • Mike

    This really is a travesty for the Internet community. From a business perspective it’s easy to see why Microsoft might use one rendering engine (MS Word 2007) instead of two (IE + MS Word) in Outlook 2007… easier to maintain, easier to manage, etc. Microsoft appears more than willing to save on its own development costs, while increasing the development costs for nearly everyone else doing email/html development.

    I would recommend email content developers to add two things to their emails to combat Microsoft’s blatant disregard for standards and the developer community at large:

    1) A “View as a web page” link so that users with rendering problems (i.e., Outlook 2007) can view the email as it was intended to be viewed.

    2) A disclaimer at the bottom of the page alerting users, “This page is compatible with Outlook 2003 and below. Users with Outlook 2007 should click the ‘View as a web page’ link above, because of problems with Outlook’s new rendering engine.”

  • Mike

    P.S. You can do something like what I’ve recommended above (unless you have a better idea) OR you can “bend over” and take it like the person who posted before me.

  • Continue to Get OVER It

    If you mean continuing to get the job done and conduct business with my customers in mind, then, yes, by all means, I’m bending over and taking it quite willingly. You will really show Microsoft who’s boss with little email notes broadcasting your inability to function in an app gaining market share. Adding a little mention in a “click here” link in email messages is ridiculous, something I doubt your email recipients are all that interested in. They won’t even notice is my bet. The masses DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK, they are interested in immediate gratification. Again, do something real, effect change or deal with it.

  • Still not Getting OVER It?

    http://www.bluehornet.com/whitepapers/Outlook2007.pdf Do a Google search for solutions to this problem. You’ll find answers. You’ll find more complaints and outcry but there are solutions out there. Even if Microsoft fixes it yesterday, you’ll still have to deal with it as an email marketer/designer. It’s out there. Wishing otherwise doesn’t make it so. Good luck and happy emailing!

  • MR.SMES!

    No I am not getting over it they tried to remove me from the competition by nearly wiping out my entire computer system in under 2 minutes and now that i have restored my computer system from the wrath of Microsoft i have detected a trojan viruse running around on my computer and nearly destroying it but i worked out how to stop it and destroy the trojan it is so simple all you have to do is turn off your computer and then turn it back on because this blocks it out from accessing the directory while the computer is off, but with other cases when damage is already done and you have to activate system restore it’s a lot harder and let me give you some advice when those 3 questions pop up with yes and no answers you better read them thouroughly and read them good and understand them and click yes on all of them or other wise your computer is practically dead and you can say by, by computer system, not my fault if this happens it just happened after i had started up AVG and done a regular viruse scan it picked up a threat and then well it all started there the scan was running slower and when i tried to stop it and quarintine the threat well my computer started running slow i then restarted my computer 3 times and pressed F3 on the 3rd time and then i had to see a Navy blue screen and pick the option labelled ‘ System Restore ‘ i then had to answer those 3 questions which came up on my desktop no toolbar no system nothing other than the first question and then the second question and then the 3rd and if i clicked yes on all the questions which i sure as hell did i then went through System Restore and praise the lord at the end of it, it all was restored but only by one thing, Luck and a whole lot of it and finally thank heavens my system was restored, it was just so scary and nothing i ever expected or had known about or been shown ever before in my entire life for the first time my system had nearly been entirely wiped and now well thank heavens i have restored it, i bet the computer nerds, from Microsoft themselves had something to do with this.

  • Ueli

    Damn. I was totally shocket as I saw our companies newsletters after installing that fuckin’ new outlook.

    I could’nt belive it…. As I saw this post I could belive it… and it is terrible…

    fuck microsoft.

    greeezz from SWITZERLAND

    yes… also we use CSS….

  • Brian Shacklett

    It wouldn’t be so bad if Outlook dropped support for HTML email completely. The trouble is that they’ve implemented broken support, so clients are going to want good looking emails that are going to be very difficult to provide. I really wish this was an all or nothing decision.

  • Jessica

    I don’t get why many dislike designed emails..I love them!! A) The task of checking my email is always an arduous one and it is definitely rendered more enticing and manageable if it is easier and appealing to the eyes, not to mention the right side of the brain 2) Why have to redirect to every individual page on the web, when it can just as easily come to you? I think this is the direction we are and should be taking….which is apparent with the advent of google reader and newsfeeds. Bring your website directly to me. Saves ample amount of time which I don’t have to surf the web. 3) Attachments are a bitch. I hate uploading, downloading, re-uploading, and taking up space in people’s mailboxes. I think it is so much more time efficient for images and files to be embedded directly in the text. Obviously many abuse this with malicious behavior, but why doesn’t microsoft focus their resources on improving the validation of such code rather than nullifying it?

    I never have any time, thus am a lover of automation and streamlined processes. For me, stylized email which represents most vividly a webpage, entity, etc, is the most automatic and visually compliant to my desire.

  • Laurence

    Yes, this is a backwards step by Microsoft, and yes, it does cause a lot of issues… but to say that every other non Microsoft product doesn’t have issues is just untrue. I’ve had to do ‘tweaks’ in CSS and XHTML for many browsers and e-mail clients to get pages to render correctly.
    I think the main problem here is that designers are relying too heavily on CSS when they could do something just as well with simple XHTML (or even HTML4). Keep it simple and you shouldn’t have a problem.

  • Lance

    This it true. Keep it simple. For many of us out there we have non-webby’s actually designing the flats so in some cases we have to use a fair amount of css. I myself have never used css outside of inline. Too risky in any client. while I’m not fond of Microsoft in general, outlook has been pretty good translating my builds.

  • Mav

    To those of you saying HTML emails are bad (Hi Ted, go educate yourself on CSS BEFORE YOU POST, TWAT), you just DO NOT GET IT. This is NOT about whether or not they are bad, but LIMITING the options that a designer/coder has to work with.

    This is a stupendously idiotic thing for Microsoft to do, and just increased my workload again to get things the way I WANT them to function.

  • emma douglas

    Oh, for crying out loud! I’m not even an email designer and this has got me bashing my head against my desk!

    Come on Microsoft, stop being such a pain in the neck.

    this is a stupendously idiotic thing for Microsoft to do, and just increased my workload again to get things the way I WANT them to function.

  • emma douglas

    Oh, for crying out loud! I’m not even an email designer and this has got me bashing my head against my desk!

    Come on Microsoft, stop being such a pain in the neck.

    this is a stupendously idiotic thing for Microsoft to do, and just increased my workload again to get things the way I WANT them to function.

  • SikDave


  • intrigued

    My first guess is that this is actually a result of the Microsoft Anti-Trust settlement.

    Microsoft’s inclusion of IE as a dependency for the operating system and other desktop software was a major portion of why they were cited as being anti-competitive. To a large degree it was the links between IE / Outlook and IE / Windows that killed Netscape and many of the other companies pushed out by Microsoft. (There were certainly other issues too, but this one got a lot of attention b/c it was directly visible to consumers.)

    I haven’t been following the process closely enough to know whether the settlement might have influenced Microsoft’s decision, but they’ve been under a lot of pressure to come into compliance over the last year or two, especially in Europe.

  • sohbet

    I use Outlook for the calendaring. I send email as text and I read it as text, for security reasons. Why html email? Do you ENJOY trojans and spyware? There is NO safe html email. None, at all. Use text

  • Marticus

    Wow all you people complaining about HTML e-mails or touting the “change your software because outlook is crap” line F***ing crack me up!
    Lets step out of our little bubbles and take a look at the bigger picture shall we?
    First off outlook maby crap but it is the standard All the developers/Designers could upgrade all there software to ThunderBird or equivelent But the e-mails will still look terrible when the customer mr Joe bloggs views the mail in outlook. so no unless your going to make every microsoft user on this planet change their e-mail software do everyone a favour and save your breath!
    Secondly to those whom are complaining about HTML e-mails ..Tough crap unfortunately for you there are people in this world that require and/or even like HTML e-mails that isn’t going to change just because YOU don’t like it. GROW UP!
    all in all whatever your opinion on HTML E-mails or spam our other e-mail software etc. etc. *BLAH BLAH* there is one undeniable fact here… microsoft dropped the ball BIG TIME! and it is causing a LOT of people a LOT of problems..
    WELL DONE microsoft (sarcastic hand clap)

  • Shashank

    What made me mad was the fact that M$ Outlook forces you to use Word to compose *all* email. In Outlook 2003, there was at least an option to not use any fancy rendering for email composition, but now there simply is none.

    I always compose email in plain text. In fact, I even strip all incoming email of formatting, and format it only if its unreadable. Not with Outlook 2007, I can’t. FAIL.

    They actually pay their engineers to produce this piece of crap software?

  • electricBiscuit

    It’s funny. Everybody wanted MS to stop embedding IE with their operating system. Now that they have, everybody is saying how stupid MS is and how much they hate them, bla bla blaaaa. There have even been some lame comments by children that say they can’t wait for MS to go bankrupt… LOL, yeah, ok…. Oh bad MS for copying everybody and making a monopoly. Gee… I didn’t know that Thunderbird and Firefox were the first ever web browser and email software? Didn’t the developers of them copy what was already done? Explain why it is that if MS copies something, it’s bad. If someone else copies something, they are revolutionists?

    Ever had to spend thousands and thousands of dollars per year to keep your corporate emails running smoothly because of the tons of crap HTML emails that are nothing more than junk mail? Or having your infrastructure at risk because someone got an HTML email embedded with malicious code?

    Bottom line, it’s their software. They can build it however they see fit.

    It’s amazing at how many people will bash MS on every move they make, say how much they dislike their software and how much they want everybody to boycott them, but yet they have a PC at home running some version of the Windows OS that they pirated from somewhere along with Office.

    Oh that’s right, all the cool kids are running Linux or Mac and hasn’t touched a MS product in years… ;) Nobody here has an xbox 360 either or a smartphone running windows…

    Hey, I know. I didn’t like this news post so next time I want you to write it MY way. I wan’t you to approve your postings with me. After all, they may be your thoughts and views but I should get to say what the final product should be just like how everybody can tell MS how they should write their final product….


    I had to unload my MS Office 2007 because it was so terribly slow. How could a company with that much behind it make such a crummy product? My Office 2003 is much faster and easier to work with.

  • Berg

    Just another example of how Microsoft disregards standards and makes things more difficult for designers/developers. I understand that they can do what they want and people will have to change. Doesn’t make it right. A huge step in the wrong direction.

  • Member Speed

    I agree that MS should fix the whole html / css issue with Outlook. That being said, I do prefer text emails. I get tired of seeing formatting issues with html, regardless of the client. I am still using Office 2003, and by Office 2015 maybe I will consider upgrading :-)

  • cool

    My first guess is that this is actually a result of the Microsoft Anti-Trust settlement.

  • Sarah

    I code emails and newsletters for various companies and I have completely had to rethink the process and templates that we use for these. As stated in the article, it’s not impossible, but it definitely isn’t making life easier as we spend at least 6 hours testing and editing and retesting just for Outlook 2007 bugs whenever we get a new template request. I just feel bad that our company had to limit what we could offer for the same billable time as a year ago.

  • Guy Fawkes

    I agree – why allow HTML in email? It’s incredibly stupid. HTML email was the very first method used by VXers to send virus-laden emails, and it’s still the easiest.

    Oddly, Microsoft was not the first offender; Netscape was. But Microsoft took HTML email vulnerabilities to new – and so far unsurpassed – heights.

    Switching their rendering engine to Word is a good first step. Removing the ability to create email in HTML would be even better, but that’s trying to put the genie back into the bottle, and it will never happen.

  • FreeFrag

    So Guy Fawkes, are you then going to suggest we roll back the Internet to the days of black and white paragraphs and headers? Are you then going to suggest after that that we just abandon desktop environments and roll back to console-only information terminals?

    This is another stupid, stupid move on the part of Microsoft.

  • tadalis sx
  • Village Reporter

    The best thing is to ignore Microsoft standards. Don’t use HMTL in email. Pressure your employers to dump Outlook.

    Also, an honest question from an American. Why does the Queen’s English refer to a corporation as plural, as in using “Microsoft have” in your text. In the US, a corporation is singular. It’s a legal equivalent of a person. We say “Microsoft has” when referring to a corporation. Some in the US have started writing this the Queen’s way, but it’s poor style in American English, showing the writer does not understand how we define corporations. Anyway, can someone explain this to me. Just go to my website and click on the Contact Village Hiker link at the bottom of the page. Thanks.

  • Rob F

    Almost 2 years later and we’re still getting the “Email should have html” comments?

    How useless is that…?
    I’m a print/web designer who does a lot of emails. I don’t have the luxury of being IT and tying technical knots around job requests and delaying/never doing them. I get told to do an html email, and I’ve gotta do it. I’m continually astounded by how IT departments at various companies I’ve worked at can just not do things. Any department that actually makes money is going to be told “Just do it”.

    I challenge anyone in the philosophical camp of “no html emails = good” to write a proposal that we can all give our CEOs that will effectively explain to a non-technical mind why they should cancel email marketing campaigns, then on to why they should stop making money by offering html email design as a paid service to customers. I would really love to post it on our wiki.

    International business with NEVER stop doing html emails. The genie will NEVER fit back in the bottle. There will just be a new genie, some day.

    To that end… making the best of the situation and campaigning to Microsoft are the only courses of action left to us designers/production staff who actually DO the work. That’s why I keep coming back here and to other forums.

  • Faust

    Microsoft didn’t give us advantages from this, Are they want monopoly all the developer and user? IMO I’ve quite fed up by Microsoft rules and etc. I’ll change to other Operating System.

    Microsoft is good OS couple of year ago, but not now. They should change their policy to User based not Market based.

  • Alex

    Heard about not bad tool which works with mails and more than-outlook viewer,as far as i know it is free,utility can help, when your mailbox is not accessible, it can happen, when something is wrong with your corporate mail server,is able ensure full compatibility with this platform, it represents one of the most popular programs for mail processing,restore all messages, contacts, tasks and calendars cannot be stored on client PC due to security reasons,pst viewer Microsoft and Outlook email viewer features a powerful algorithm, that decrypts *.ost format and extracts your data as a set of files in *.eml, *.txt and *.vcf formats,also convert your data to a *.pst file, that can be easily opened by any email client, you can even forward this file, recovered with Microsoft Outlook .pst viewer to any other PC within your local network.

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