I wrote an “Open Letter to Microsoft” over a month ago. It was a short diatribe on Microsoft’s decision to use Word’s rendering engine for Outlook 2007 instead of Internet Explorer. Well, I had assumed that it would be quite some time before I had to worry about testing designs in Outlook 2007, but that day came much, much sooner than I had anticipated. I snagged a copy of it off of Amazon.com (product link) for $89.99.The interesting thing that I’ve discovered while using the new version, is that where it fails with rendering emails – it excels in handling contacts, calendaring, etc. The mere fact that the new version of Outlook supports the iCal standard, viewing RSS feeds, etc. makes it a pretty solid upgrade. Having said that, I don’t expect you to run out and buy a copy. How it renders email is a huge flaw, and one I have tried hard to ignore while using the product.
- Email rendering sucks. Standards-based email designs blow up. Old School HTML is the only way to fly if you’ve got any customers, clients, etc. that use Outlook 2007. This is the single-most important concern I have over the product, and one that I hope gets addressed in the near future.
- Beautiful interface. Everything is logically organized when viewing email. You can view your mail, mail folders, To-Do items, and upcoming tasks all in one window. The inclusion of Vista fonts like Segoe UI, Calibri, Cambria, etc. make everything easy to read… with ClearType enabled, everything looks beautiful.
- iCal Support. I use Google Calendar as my primary calendaring app. The fact that I can now subscribe to them via Outlook is awesome. I also use Basecamp… and I can import individual project calendars if I choose to. Being able to pull those into a desktop app makes sense. (I only wish I could write to those calendars through Outlook – but that’s a fault of Google and Basecamp, not Microsoft.)
- RSS Support. Anything that helps bring RSS feeds more mainstream is a win in my book. The only downside I’ve seen with this feature is that it treats new posts like emails… which doesn’t work for me. (I much prefer using FeedDemon/NewsGator Online to keep up on all the feeds I am subscribed to.)
Aside from the most obvious defect in Outlook 2007, it’s a solid upgrade from Outlook 2003. Hopefully, Microsoft will address the rendering issue at some point – but for now, we’ll have to make due with it the best we can.