Open Letter to Microsoft

Standard

Dear Microsoft,

Last year, you introduced Windows Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) upon the world. Designers everywhere celebrated the fact that you had finally stepped up to the standards plate. IE7 isn’t perfect, but it’s much better than what we had to work with.

Pretty soon, Outlook 2007 will be moved out of beta. One might assume that it, like it’s predecessors, would use IE for rendering HTML emails. (I know that I had.) But you know what? It doesn’t. It uses Word 2007 instead.

I know, I know. There will be lots of people out there that say HTML emails suck, and they’d be right. It’s probably safe to say that most spam email is of the HTML variety. But that shouldn’t be a problem for you, Microsoft, because IE7 should take care of any security issues that might arise, right?

HTML emails are a fact of life. Introducing another rendering engine to the mix makes life difficult for businesses like the one I work for. Email marketing is not our primary focus, but a lot of our customers want to stay in touch with their customers via email newsletters.

I shouldn’t have to worry about basic CSS stuff being supported in Outlook – stuff like background images, floats, stylized unordered lists, positioning, etc. should just work – but now I do.

Word 2007 is a word processor. Despite the fact that HTML can be generated from documents created within it, doesn’t make it a logical choice for rendering HTML – that is what Internet Explorer is for. Furthermore, this decision puts my confidence in IE7 in serious jeopardy: If you won’t even use it, why should I or anyone else for that matter?

It’s probably too late, but I hope you’ll reconsider this decision.

28 thoughts on “Open Letter to Microsoft

  1. The only people who care about Outlook 2007 using Word to render its emails, and the loss of the aforementioned features are designers and developer. Not USERS!

    What user said “I wish I got more of those pointless marketing emails!”.
    What user said “I could just go a big background picture for my emails!”
    What user said “I wish I could trach the open count of my emails!”

    Not I…

  2. Martin, you’re right. It is going to be designers and developers that will be most vocal about this change because we’re the ones that 1) design them for clients that have legitimate business with the recipient(s); 2) pay attention to this kind of stuff… and 3) tend to be the people that have to answer “Why isn’t this working like it should (or used to)?”

    There is a place for HTML email, and you might disagree, but it’s not all evil. The kind of reaction most people are having would be comparable to saying there should be no alcohol available to anyone, because some people choose to use alcohol and drive drunk/do something stupid/etc. Just because people misuse HTML emails, doesn’t mean it should be completely eliminated and/or crippled.

    If anything, the industry at large needs to come up with a better way of identifying, controlling, and eliminating spam.

  3. The only people who care about Outlook 2007 using Word to render its emails, and the loss of the aforementioned features are designers and developer. Not USERS!

    What user said “I wish I got more of those pointless marketing emails!”.
    What user said “I could just go a big background picture for my emails!”
    What user said “I wish I could trach the open count of my emails!”

    Not I…

  4. Martin, you’re right. It is going to be designers and developers that will be most vocal about this change because we’re the ones that 1) design them for clients that have legitimate business with the recipient(s); 2) pay attention to this kind of stuff… and 3) tend to be the people that have to answer “Why isn’t this working like it should (or used to)?”

    There is a place for HTML email, and you might disagree, but it’s not all evil. The kind of reaction most people are having would be comparable to saying there should be no alcohol available to anyone, because some people choose to use alcohol and drive drunk/do something stupid/etc. Just because people misuse HTML emails, doesn’t mean it should be completely eliminated and/or crippled.

    If anything, the industry at large needs to come up with a better way of identifying, controlling, and eliminating spam.

  5. Consider this letter signed! This is going to be awful for us. This means going back to table based layout. I’m new enough to have learned web production as CSS so I have to learn a whole bunch of old hacker skills.

  6. hehe, I hear ya Jacob. I’ve spent the last four years trying to unlearn what I learned during my first six on the web… and thought things were finally getting better. I still can’t understand this decision, and hope they reconsider it.

  7. Consider this letter signed! This is going to be awful for us. This means going back to table based layout. I’m new enough to have learned web production as CSS so I have to learn a whole bunch of old hacker skills.

  8. hehe, I hear ya Jacob. I’ve spent the last four years trying to unlearn what I learned during my first six on the web… and thought things were finally getting better. I still can’t understand this decision, and hope they reconsider it.

  9. Osro

    They’re protecting their market. Another way to eliminate competition of others or forcing them to work with their sucky word rendering thingy.

  10. Osro

    They’re protecting their market. Another way to eliminate competition of others or forcing them to work with their sucky word rendering thingy.

  11. @Osro: You’re right, they are protecting their market, but they are also shooting themselves in the foot. The mere fact that Outlook 07 and 03 render differently is beyond comprehension.

  12. @Osro: You’re right, they are protecting their market, but they are also shooting themselves in the foot. The mere fact that Outlook 07 and 03 render differently is beyond comprehension.

  13. Tommy

    Nice work Microsoft you just gave every Financial instituion in the US a reason to switch to Lotus Notes….. HA

  14. Tommy

    Nice work Microsoft you just gave every Financial instituion in the US a reason to switch to Lotus Notes….. HA

  15. I work for a large financial organisation and I do not see what email rendering has to do with my organisations choice of email client? We have some betas of Office 2007 and all our existing HTML emails render just the same in Outlook 2007! What is the problem, unless you send out HTML heavy marketing emails, which does not affect what client you use internaly?

  16. I work for a large financial organisation and I do not see what email rendering has to do with my organisations choice of email client? We have some betas of Office 2007 and all our existing HTML emails render just the same in Outlook 2007! What is the problem, unless you send out HTML heavy marketing emails, which does not affect what client you use internaly?

  17. Andrea

    5; Agree Strongly.

    Martin – Then you missed the point. Companies hire designers to create those HTML heavy marketing emails. Believe it or not people actually sign up for the ones I send out. Outlook using Word to render HTML emails makes all of our jobs harder. Not even harder, just more tedious.
    If MS came along and changed some software that made the way you do your job every day WRONG and forced you to change, would that be a good experience for you?
    It doesn’t matter what client we use internally, because I’m not just designing for me. These emails have to look the same on Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, all of them.

    It is just a giant pain in our asses, and what is the internet for if not for bitching about what is a pain in your ass at any given moment? :)

  18. Andrea

    5; Agree Strongly.

    Martin – Then you missed the point. Companies hire designers to create those HTML heavy marketing emails. Believe it or not people actually sign up for the ones I send out. Outlook using Word to render HTML emails makes all of our jobs harder. Not even harder, just more tedious.
    If MS came along and changed some software that made the way you do your job every day WRONG and forced you to change, would that be a good experience for you?
    It doesn’t matter what client we use internally, because I’m not just designing for me. These emails have to look the same on Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, all of them.

    It is just a giant pain in our asses, and what is the internet for if not for bitching about what is a pain in your ass at any given moment? :)

  19. You are definatly right that the internet is for bitching about the things that anoy you! :) So I took the opertunity to bitch about marketing emails :)
    But seriously…if people really want the emails why cant you email them a link for them to click to a microsite.. Not only do you get the full range of features (like Silverlight or javascript) you can guarantee it will work even if the have their email client set to text only or even worse, have a text client…

    Many anal support guys make text not only the default, but the only option: which is good in ther twisted reality.

    Anyway, if you are recording opens and clicks, you will be able to tell what the client is and record the types of client against the email address. That way you can talor the format for the client, just like you have to do for AOL anyway…

  20. Andrea

    While your solution certainly makes a bit of sense when it comes to genuine marketing emails, it also sort of defeats the purpose of newsletters, which is mainly what I do.
    One reason they’re sent to your inbox in the first place is so that you can keep that email and refer to it later or forward it along to a friend. Or any of the many reasons people use email over publishing a web page every time they want to get a point across.

    Luckily, though, I always send in multi-part (HTML alongside text only for users who need it) so I shouldn’t be annoying any anal support guys. Which is good, because my husband is one of them. :)

  21. You are definatly right that the internet is for bitching about the things that anoy you! :) So I took the opertunity to bitch about marketing emails :)
    But seriously…if people really want the emails why cant you email them a link for them to click to a microsite.. Not only do you get the full range of features (like Silverlight or javascript) you can guarantee it will work even if the have their email client set to text only or even worse, have a text client…

    Many anal support guys make text not only the default, but the only option: which is good in ther twisted reality.

    Anyway, if you are recording opens and clicks, you will be able to tell what the client is and record the types of client against the email address. That way you can talor the format for the client, just like you have to do for AOL anyway…

  22. Andrea

    While your solution certainly makes a bit of sense when it comes to genuine marketing emails, it also sort of defeats the purpose of newsletters, which is mainly what I do.
    One reason they’re sent to your inbox in the first place is so that you can keep that email and refer to it later or forward it along to a friend. Or any of the many reasons people use email over publishing a web page every time they want to get a point across.

    Luckily, though, I always send in multi-part (HTML alongside text only for users who need it) so I shouldn’t be annoying any anal support guys. Which is good, because my husband is one of them. :)

Comments are closed.