Will Outlook 2007 break your e-mail?

Microsoft's new e-mail software won't use Internet Explorer's standards to render messages.

Elsa Wenzel
2 min read

Some digital publishers are complaining that the new Microsoft Outlook rolls back design standards by half a decade. The 2007 edition of Outlook, the most popular e-mail client for big businesses, ditches Internet Explorer's technology for that of Word 2007 to display HTML messages.

An e-mail in Outlook 2000 and in 2007.
Same message, different Outlook Campaign Monitor

The result? In your Outlook 2007 in-box, background images may not appear within dressed-up HTML messages. Forget about filling out certain forms. Animated GIF images won't play, and a red X will mark the spot where a Flash movie would be. ALT tags, which describe pictures and help blind people to "see" them, won't work either. And there's more.

I hadn't noticed funky-looking messages during my beta tests of Outlook 2007, probably because I shun HTML newsletters in favor of plain old text. But if you like to get news and views from various sources via e-mail, those messages might look lopsided and incomplete in Outlook 2007. In that case, a Web-based e-mail program would be a better choice for your subscriptions.

Microsoft has attempted to improve HTML support within Word 2007, which even offers a blog-editing interface. HTML files within earlier versions of Word were a nightmare of sloppy code. Web content created in Word 2007 looks more elegant on the surface. But when I used Word 2007's blogging layout to create a document containing no more than a photograph and a three-word headline, the resulting HTML file contained a whopping 32,417 characters of code, about the length of a 2,000-word essay. By hand-coding in basic HTML, I cobbled together a nearly identical Web page with a mere 200 characters.

Why would Microsoft rely upon its word processor's technology rather than its nearly ubiquitous Web browser to display e-mail messages? Ostensibly, it's for the sake of security. Microsoft touts Internet Explorer 7 as its safest browser yet. So why aren't IE7's standards strong enough for your in-box?

(via Sitepoint Tech Times)