Outlook 2010 and HTML Email

For those of you who build HTML emails for your clients on a regular basis, I am sure you are aware of the grass-roots effort over at fixoutlook.org to influence Outlook 2010. For those who don’t know, Microsoft introduced a change when they launched Outlook 2007 to the way emails were rendered. As of Outlook 2007, Outlook opens the HTML Email and converts it to Microsoft Word format before displaying it to the user. What happens during this process is that many CSS attributes and HTML support is completely removed. Some of the most notable absences are background-image, and padding and margin support. A more detailed look at its deficiencies is available.


Through testing an early beta of Outlook 2010, the folks over at Campaign Monitor discovered that Outlook 2010 continued to render email the same way as Outlook 2007. This prompted them to launch fixoutlook.org so Microsoft could hear the voice of developers and users around the world who say “Enough is Enough!” Less than a full day after the site launched, Microsoft issued a release on their Outlook blog.

Microsoft’s response was largely smoke and mirrors and they went as far as to claim security as a benefit for using Word to render emails (A feature they say isn’t available in browsers). I am sorry to say, Microsoft, that pretty much every browser out there lets you turn off Javascript now if you really want to… so the fact that Word can’t process Javascript is not a security feature.

I was able to reach David Greiner, co-founder of Campaign Monitor, last night for a statement. We had a great call and he was extremely gracious concerning Microsoft’s response. He mentioned that Microsoft is the biggest software company in the world with the biggest product in the world… we have to be understanding of what they are working with. He also mentioned that he has personally dialoged with some of the Outlook team and said they are a great group of people. His reasoning on Outlook’s deficiencies was simple: “HTML Email, whether you like it or hate it, is not going anywhere. Its broken, so why not fix it.”

David did express that he was slightly hurt by Microsoft’s response but he gathered hope from their claim to support email standards should a true standard emerge. Toward the end of the call David also mentioned that  since a standard for HTML already exists, email clients should just support the existing standard… it is HTML Email after all!

For more information, I encourage you to visit the following sites:

Be sure to subscribe the feed over at the Email Standards Project for the latest in email news.

Feedback! Be sure to leave comments on this post! I want to hear your thoughts on the subject. Is Microsoft right or wrong? Is FixOutlook.org worth getting involved with?

Disclaimer: I am a current customer of Campaign Monitor… and I happen to respect the team over there quite a bit.

Doug Neiner is an Editor at Fuel Your Coding and an official member of the jQuery Team. He is addicted to new technology, and specifically loves spending time with WordPress, Ruby on Rails and jQuery. Learn more via twitter or his Google Profile.


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