Thoughts On Microsoft’s Insistence That Outlook Isn’t Broken

I came across this story several times recently – apparently a bunch of internet folks are really annoyed that Outlook insists on using Microsoft Word as its HTML email render-er. Microsoft has addressed the situation, saying that it appreciates the feedback from users, but since they don’t believe there is a reason for them not to use Word, especially since there seemingly isn’t a web standard for HTML email rendering. Personally, I don’t care, because I recently dumped Outlook (more on that soon), but I thought there were a few interesting tidbits that I wanted to comment on in this story.

First, direct quote from the Microsoft response, ‘…Word enables Outlook customers to write professional-looking and visually stunning e-mail messages.‘ I realize I’m likely in the minority here, but I’m not really interested in visually stunning emails. I get email on my phone and my computer, wherever I’m at, and while my phone *is* capable of showing full HTML emails, it’s not my preferred way to view them. Email is for text, and I just need to be able to read it, that’s my primary concern.

It’s also interesting to read the different viewpoints on this around the ‘net. Personally, while I don’t use Outlook anymore, I don’t blame them – why would Microsoft use something else, when they get $$ when folks have both Outlook and Word installed? Also, using Word keeps people comfortable with it, which means they’re more likely to purchase it for their next computer. It’s an awesome example of Microsoft eating their own dogfood and filling others’ bowls with it, too, and you can’t really fault them for that, in my opinion.

What do you think? Are you an Outlook user, or have you abandoned it for other platforms, too? Do you think they handled this properly?

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

13 thoughts on “Thoughts On Microsoft’s Insistence That Outlook Isn’t Broken

  1. HTML email isn’t the reason why Outlook is broken. Outlook is broken because its a memory hog that hasn’t seen a substantial update (other than a few UI tweaks) in nearly a decade.

    Anyone who is nearly serious about crafting HTML emails will do it by hand before letting that hot-mess that is MS Word handle the HTML writing duties.

    What this does point out though is that MS isn’t even aligned in its development outlook. If IE is your flagship HTML product, then all other software that will use an HTML engine should be using the same one, and should see the updates that IE sees when it has its engine and specs updated. The fact that the Office and Internet groups within MS are too egotistical to see this speaks to why Google and others have been able to out-maneuver them in this.

    Concerning email; it should be like other content. Let me decide how I want to receive it; you just provide the raw data. Until people see that content is just that – content – we will still have these discussions about what methods and tools are best for making pretty content that I don’t save anyways 😉

  2. HTML email isn’t the reason why Outlook is broken. Outlook is broken because its a memory hog that hasn’t seen a substantial update (other than a few UI tweaks) in nearly a decade.

    Anyone who is nearly serious about crafting HTML emails will do it by hand before letting that hot-mess that is MS Word handle the HTML writing duties.

    What this does point out though is that MS isn’t even aligned in its development outlook. If IE is your flagship HTML product, then all other software that will use an HTML engine should be using the same one, and should see the updates that IE sees when it has its engine and specs updated. The fact that the Office and Internet groups within MS are too egotistical to see this speaks to why Google and others have been able to out-maneuver them in this.

    Concerning email; it should be like other content. Let me decide how I want to receive it; you just provide the raw data. Until people see that content is just that – content – we will still have these discussions about what methods and tools are best for making pretty content that I don’t save anyways 😉

  3. The Email Standards group have been trying to push forward on getting things standardised and the only people who are failing are Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. Of course, Microsoft Outlook is such a big one as it’s got a massive user base. This causes such an issue for newsletter designers. I’m happy to receive plain text email, but HTML mail is fine and is well rendered by Thunderbird.

    MS Outlook however seems to like doing things in its own way. Ever replied to an MS Outlook mail from T-bird? Does your text instantly render as Times New Roman no matter what your defaults are set to? Yes it does. MS Outlook adds a mongo amount of inline style rules which seem to override everything. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    If all the mail clients rendered things the same way, well, it would just make sense – same way web standards has made an awful lot of sense for browsers.

  4. The Email Standards group have been trying to push forward on getting things standardised and the only people who are failing are Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. Of course, Microsoft Outlook is such a big one as it’s got a massive user base. This causes such an issue for newsletter designers. I’m happy to receive plain text email, but HTML mail is fine and is well rendered by Thunderbird.

    MS Outlook however seems to like doing things in its own way. Ever replied to an MS Outlook mail from T-bird? Does your text instantly render as Times New Roman no matter what your defaults are set to? Yes it does. MS Outlook adds a mongo amount of inline style rules which seem to override everything. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    If all the mail clients rendered things the same way, well, it would just make sense – same way web standards has made an awful lot of sense for browsers.

  5. The Email Standards group have been trying to push forward on getting things standardised and the only people who are failing are Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. Of course, Microsoft Outlook is such a big one as it’s got a massive user base. This causes such an issue for newsletter designers. I’m happy to receive plain text email, but HTML mail is fine and is well rendered by Thunderbird.

    MS Outlook however seems to like doing things in its own way. Ever replied to an MS Outlook mail from T-bird? Does your text instantly render as Times New Roman no matter what your defaults are set to? Yes it does. MS Outlook adds a mongo amount of inline style rules which seem to override everything. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    If all the mail clients rendered things the same way, well, it would just make sense – same way web standards has made an awful lot of sense for browsers.

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