Thursday, 18 January 2007

Waves of dismay crashing upon the new famous Outlook 2007 HTML support through Word HTML Processor

Sometimes we wish, we would head back to the old days and do it the way it was done then, and just say "That's just the way it's done", but then we might reconsider.
Not so for Microsoft recently! For whichever reasons that i would like to hear some clarification on, Microsoft has replaced their HTML Rendering engine for Outlook 2007 to the Word HTML Processor, though it used the Internet Explorer rendering engine in its recent versions.

Now why would that make a difference? Well, marketing branches of company websites have ever since it was possible to send HTML E-Mails, been publishing HTML Newsletters with rich HTML content up to the latest standards of CSS 2.1 and so been able to convey all there marketing features not only through the website, but also through colorful, highly designed HTML Newsletters.

With a possible growing distribution of Outlook 2007, those days are over!

Regarding to the specifiations of HTML Rendering in Outlook 2007, read these to Microsoft articles for detailed informations:
(thankfully rather well documented)

In short this will mean that when you create HTML Newsletters you are back to the basics, since some features will not be supported anymore as detailed in this article:

Short summary of CSS features not supported:
  • no support for background images
  • no support for CSS floats and positioning
  • no support for bullet images on lists
  • no support for forms, flash and animate GIFs
As can be seen by example of Molly Holzschlag's blog this is already producing waves of dismay throughout the web development community.

Look at the Campaign Monitor site to get a feeling for the impact on HTML Newsletters, by a simple example:

I was ready to scream and loose hair that i don't have anymore, until i started talking to a colleague of mine, after which we came to the conclusion, that this might not be to bad at all, well from the developing point of view, certainly not from the marketing point.

With those downsized CSS features, kicking us back to stone age in terms of HTML Rendering, we are left with the basics, meaning:
  • Table layouts
  • Images (not as backgrounds)
  • styles as tag attributes
Also this will mean that HTML Newsletters can be read by more E-Mail Clients than before and a wider coverage and possible acceptance can be achieved.

What this might also impact, would be a switching of HTML Newsletters to News feeds through RSS, although Outlook 2007 supports that too, but primarly email clients are not used as RSS feed readers nowadays. So go, go RSS!

My personal opinion: HTML was never and should never have been used for E-Mails. So "hurray" from my personal point of view.

With its strong monopoly and still remaining one of the most used operating system, Microsoft is once more rocking parts of the worlds, with small changes :)

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