Wednesday, January 10, 2007

HTML on Outlook 2007

I received a newsletter from Sitepoint and was quite surprised (and then laughing) after looking at their headline (HTML on Outlook 2007). Here's the content of the news:
MICROSOFT BREAKS HTML EMAIL RENDERING IN OUTLOOK 2007

If support for web standards in browsers is improving slowly,
then support in email clients is moving at a glacial pace.
Attempts to document things like CSS support in the major email
clients [1] have revealed a depressing state of affairs, but
with recent desktop clients like Thunderbird [2] now sitting on
solid rendering engines, things have been looking up.

All that changed when Microsoft dropped a lump of coal into
every web developer's stocking with the end-of-year release to
business customers, and the upcoming consumer release, of
Outlook 2007 [3].

At the risk of turning this newsletter into a biweekly Microsoft
bash, Redmond has done it again. While the IE team was soothing
the tortured souls of web developers everywhere with the new,
more compliant Internet Explorer 7, the Office team pulled a
fast one, ripping out the IE-based rendering engine that Outlook
has always used for email, and replacing it with ... drum roll
please ... Microsoft Word.

That's right. Instead of taking advantage of Internet Explorer
7, Outlook 2007 uses the very limited support for HTML and CSS
that is built into Word 2007 to display HTML email messages.

Having tested the two public beta versions of Outlook 2007 late
last year, I knew there was something screwy going on. Many of
the newsletters I subscribed to had become unreadable, and
SitePoint's own publications (including the Tech Times) were
looking decidedly unhealthy. I dutifully reported these
rendering issues with the feedback mechanisms provided in the
beta, and wrote them off as Internet Explorer 7 integration
issues that would be resolved in the final release.

But late last month, a thread in the SitePoint Forums [4] caught
my eye. Microsoft had published a pair of articles [5] describing
the support for HTML and CSS in Outlook 2007, and the news wasn't
good:

"Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 uses the HTML parsing and
rendering engine from Microsoft Office Word 2007 to display HTML
message bodies. The same HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS)
support available in Word 2007 is available in Outlook 2007."

The limitations imposed by Word 2007 are described in detail in
the article, but here are a few highlights:

- no support for background images (HTML or CSS)

- no support for forms

- no support for Flash, or other plugins

- no support for CSS floats

- no support for replacing bullets with images in unordered
lists

- no support for CSS positioning

- no support for animated GIFs

In short, unless your HTML emails are very, very simple, you're
going to run into problems with Outlook 2007, and in most cases
the only solution to those problems will be to reduce the
complexity of your HTML email design to accommodate Outlook's
limited feature set.

With the release of Outlook 2007, Microsoft is effectively
adding an entirely new rendering engine to the mix--one
that designers producing HTML email will not be able to ignore.

Not only that, but this new rendering engine isn't any better
than that which Outlook previously used--indeed, it's far
worse. With this release, Outlook drops from being one of the
best clients for HTML email support to the level of Lotus Notes
and Eudora, which, in the words of Campaign Monitor's David
Grenier [6], "are serial killers making our email design lives
hell."

Why on earth would Microsoft do such a thing? Security?
Microsoft has been shouting from the rooftops about the new
security model in Internet Explorer 7 that prevents the nasty
security issues that have plagued Outlook in the past. It seems
Microsoft doesn't buy its own publicity, however, because this
move sends the message that Internet Explorer's security model
is not to be trusted.

Where to from here? Well, as a first step, you'll want to use
Microsoft's handy-dandy tool [7] to tell you which parts of your
lean, mean HTML emails need to be replaced with old-fashioned
HTML sludge. As a second step, you may want to consider giving
your Outlook-based readers an easy way to switch to text-only
email.

Bring on PDF email. I'm ready.


[1] <http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/2006/03/a_guide_to_css_support_in_emai.html>
[2] <http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/>
[3] <http://office.microsoft.com/outlook/>
[4] <http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=446030>
[5] <http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338201.aspx>
[6] <http://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/2006/03/a_guide_to_css_support_in_emai.html>
[7] <http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338200.aspx>


It's a major drawbacks since IE7 has become better (NOT the best, but better) in HTML rendering than previous version and the IE team has worked to get most of CSS and HTML standards implemented in correct way in IE7 and finally Outlook team dump them.

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:10 PM

    I don't understand why you think that's funny. It's a small disaster, and webdesigners, businesses and marketeers all over the world are shocked and angry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. it's already mentioned at the bottom of my post. :D

    IE team has made a significant improvements on their rendering machine and the Office team dumped them. Now that's funny enough for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Maybe this will help:

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Decent_HTML_in_Outlook_2007/

    It’s al long shot, I know…

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had similar problem which recover mails-pst mail reader,as far as I know program is free,utility can help to extract your emails from files of PST format,read corrupted files of PST and OST format and save emails, that could be lost without this program,works with all supported versions of Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Windows,supports data extraction as separate files in *.eml, *.vcf and *.txt format, they will be placed to any folder upon your choice,also convert the data into a file of PST format, that can be opened with any email client, compatible with Microsoft Outlook,repair can work with very large files.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This situation is needing the special approach-export mail from ost file,because this tool helped me many times and has free status as far as I can see,it extract your data and export Outlook ost file, if *.ost file is corrupted,export from ost file is very easy to use, its friendly graphic interface allows all operations to be performed in several mouse clicks,really works for export mail from ost file and is capable to recover *.ost files,export mail from .ost file supports all Windows platforms as well as Vista and all versions of Microsoft Office packages,tool can export ost file without Outlook and export data from ost file to pst, as well as to recover emails and contacts from password-protected *.ost files, it is even possible to process source files with strong encryption and export folders from ost file.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Today I saw that my outlook doesn't work,because my password was lost,and accidentally I found in inet-outlook password open.And fortunatley tool helped me fast.It is free as far as I know,besides that it will help to retrieve current user password Outlook and restore access to your email account.

    ReplyDelete
  7. For work with outlook files advise to use-fix outlook pst.Because tool helped me many times and it is free as far as I know.Moreover program can convert the data into a file with PST extension and recover Outlook 2003 pst file.

    ReplyDelete