Email Standards Project

Email Standards ProjectWhat the Web Standards Project did for the web, the Email Standards Project hopes to do for email. This new initiative, which launched today (11.28.07 @ 10am, Sydney Australia time) is one I fully support. HTML Email can serve a legitimate purpose, and it’s about time this sort of advocacy took place. I hope you’ll join me in congratulating the ESP team on their launch and in supporting the ESP any way you can in the future.

Wondering why we need standards support in HTML email? Learn More

A Second Look at Outlook 2007

Outlook 2007 Product Box ShotI 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.

CONS

  • 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.

PROS

  • 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.