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January 14, 2007

Microsoft Gets Email Marketers Hopping

Microsoft_office_system_logo Microsoft’s latest decision has the email marketing industry foaming at the mouth. (I won’t use the moniker that this link arrived in my inbox bearing, but let’s just say that Star Wars fans would recognize the way that the sender referred to Microsoft in sharing their plans for HTML in Outlook and how it is going to affect email marketers.)

Outlook up until now has used the Internet Explorer engine to render HTML within email. But next month, when Outlook 2007 is released, IE rendering will be gone to be replaced by …. Word. That’s right! Word’s appropriately infamous HTML rendering engine will now be the default for Outlook.
For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the finer points of HTML rendering, it’s sort of like going from using Windex to wash your windows to a slightly grubby washcloth. The reaction has already been extensive, and not positive. Campaign Monitor goes into great details about the changes, with an accompanying fury of comments from aggravated users.

How are you planning to adjust your campaigns as a result? My team tells me that we have been using inline CSS for a while, but the last thing that beleaguered legitimate, permission-based email marketers need is another complication in getting their messages read. Have OneDegree readers got solutions in place or is a mad scramble underway?


As soon as I heard about this, I guessed that it was due to the complete separation of IE from Windows (anti-trust and whatnot). What I don't understand is why they couldn't at least include the just the rendering engine separately for Outlook instead of using Word.

We're not scrambling too much here, as we luckily only have one current template with significant validation errors.

Not a big deal as far as I am concerned. Anyone who is coding CSS based email layouts is not coding cross platform anyways, as the only pure way to code cross platform for email is with an imbred mix of tables and minimal CSS.

Tables are the only thing that give you consitent results in email anways, not just in outlook but accross the board.

Though it is a step background, but maybe they are planning on upgrading word's web production power in the future... I wouldn't doubt it.

The issue is that there are no real standards for HTML email. Email was created for text only. HTML within email is a hack, basically. Outlooks email didn't conform to any complete standard of HTML when it did use IE, so it's irrelevant that the rendering engine is changing.

You shouldn't be sending (or at least trust) HTML email to begin with. Promote the use of a standard and then use it when email clients conform.

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