So here’s the great news that Outlook 2010 is in beta development. Here’s the not so great news. They are still planning on using the Word rendering engine to display HTML emails, just as in Outlook 2007.
Goodbye styles and background images, hello tables (my old friend) and broken emails.
There may be all sorts of reasons behind the move, be it a reaction to Microsoft not being allowed to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows 7 or the official Microsoft view that using Word offers the most powerful email composition tools for Outlook users. This is flawed by tha fact that recipients will require Outlook to view the emails properly, and with only 7% of the market this punishes Outlook users in my opinion. I see no reason why a corporation such as Microsoft can’t allocate the resources to create an email client that provides powerful authoring and rendering of emails, using email standards.
The Email Standards Project, Campaign Monitor (I love you guys!) and New_ism_ have initiated a campaign, http://fixoutlook.org/, to try and highlight the problems to Microsoft, so lets all hope they listen.
Alternatively the sooner I get away from having to worry about building HTML emails, the better.
Addition: the Microsoft response
Microsoft have provided a response to the campaign on their MSDN blog which expands on a number of points I raised. In the comments I pointed out that HTML is not an email standard, and Microsoft correctly state “There is no widely-recognized consensus in the industry about what subset of HTML is appropriate for use in e-mail for interoperability“. This is my view too but of course it doesn’t make my day job any easier.
I agree that many using Word to compose rich emails will find that the easiest and most powerful method – but it still relies on the recipient using a client expecting Word formatted HTML.
Finally, if Microsoft would please prove to me that “Word has always done a great job of displaying the HTML which is commonly found in e-mails around the world” I’d appreciate it, because I think that is absolute bollocks and my professional experience backs that up.