Just When You Think They Are Starting to Get it Right

posted on January 10th, 2007 by Anthony

Outlook 2007 a bloody mine

Microsoft go and do something stupid.

I’ve just read in the latest Sitepoint Tech Time email that the spangly new Outlook 2007 has taken five or six steps backwards in terms of rendering HTML emails.

Previous versions of Outlook integrated with IE6 which, as we all know, is not brilliant but at least we know what we’re doing.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that with IE7 coming out, coinciding with Vista and Office 2007, we could look forward to an Outlook with solid IE7 based rendering.

Don’t be daft!

Guess what they’ve actually done?

Kept IE6?

Nope…

err, IE5?

Be serious…

Give up?

Bloody Word!

They are actually going to be rendering HTML emails – in what will inevitably become the most popular desktop email client in the world – in sodding Microsoft Word 2007.

Deary Me

It has to be said that Word 2007 is an improvement on previous versions of Words HTML rendering capabilities.

Having said that, a child with a crayon would also offer improvements in a lot of areas.

According to MS themselves Word 2007 does support:

a subset of the standard HTML 4.01 specification and of the Internet Explorer 6.0 HTML specification. Word 2007 also supports a subset of the standard Cascading Stylesheet Specification, Level 1.

I think the key phrases there are ‘subset‘ and ‘Internet Explorer 6.0 HTML specification‘.

It’s easier to point out some of the things they’ve left out. Here are the unsupported CSS1 features:

The biggies being background images, floats and displaying elements as a block.

I wouldn’t even think about CSS2 too much if I were you.

In terms of HTML things aren’t too bad. The unsupported features are basically things you shouldn’t be using on HTML emails anyway (or in most cases in HTML full stop). Things like form, iframe and object are all omitted.

All that is before you even start looking about how the supported features are actually rendered by this new engine.

Hmmmpf

I know there are thousands of people out there that hate HTML emails with a passion. I actually like them, to be honest.

Regardless of your point of view it is inevitable that at some point as a web professional you are going to have to work with them.

The current HTML email playing field is already littered with mines. Microsoft are seemingly about to deploy a one with a devastating payload combined with heat seeking and motion detection.

It’s an obstacle that will be difficult to avoid.

On the brightside it’s nice to see Microsoft keeping our job securities in mind.