Again?

The Email Standards Project launched an impressive campaign via Twitter yesterday called “Fix Outlook“. As of this morning, over 21,000 people have chimed in and offered up their support. But Microsoft still doesn’t care. I say ‘still’ because their decision to switch to using Word as the rendering engine for Outlook was isn’t new. (It was actually switched in Outlook 2007.) But the fact that Microsoft went ahead and kept this change in for Outlook 2010 has People were pretty vocal about the switch back then too. Read More

IE8 is here.

Windows Internet Explorer 8 is here. This is the first launch of IE that I’ve been excited about in a long time. Why? With full support for CSS 2.1, it’s now a standards-compliant browser. (It also supports CSS 3.0 in a limited capacity.) Sure, it’s now one more browser to account for, but if your site works properly in newer versions Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, etc… chances are it will work in IE8. If you’re unsure of how to fix any issues your site might have in Internet Explorer 8, but it works fine in previous versions, forcing legacy rendering is as easy as adding a meta tag:

[html]

[/html]

OR, on a per-site basis, add the HTTP header: X-UA-Compatible: IE=EmulateIE7

For more information, please see: Standards by Default: What Does it Mean?

Mojave

Windows Vista

Microsoft’s “Mojave Experiment” is horribly misleading. Wil Shipley has some great thoughts on the matter: “The Mojave Experiment:” Bad Science, Bad Marketing.

I recently upgraded to Vista. I’ve avoided it like the plague since its initial release. I bought into a lot of the negative reviews, and they helped fuel my desire to stay away from Vista. But with a new laptop came the new OS and I figured I would give it a shot. After a couple of weeks of using it, I like it. It looks better than XP. I’ve found it to be more stable with the applications I use. I’ve found the OS to be more responsive (but I chalk that up to running it under better hardware). But it’s not without its problems.

Windows Vista Ultimate - Box shot

I CAN HAZ SP1 PLZ? I tried upgrading my install of Windows Vista Home Premium to Vista Ultimate. I was told that I needed to upgrade to Vista Home Premium SP1 OR I’d have to reformat my laptop and install Vista Ultimate. I opted for the former. After downloading the 400+Mb manual install for SP1, I ran it. It processed for 15-20 minutes, restarted my system, and configured 3 stages of updates. After another reboot, I was able to log into my system only to find that SP1 did not install due to errors. My only option, now, is to do a fresh install of everything.

I CAN HAZ WIRELESS PLZ? I only had one hardware conflict: My D-LINK WBR-1310 wireless router wouldn’t work with my Dell Inspiron 1710 laptop. I could get the hard-wired connection to work fine, but nothing I tried worked. I ended up swapping routers with my mother-in-law – she had a pre-N D-LINK router – and it solved my problems. Everything else I had installed without any problems.

I’m sure, as I spend more time with Vista, I’ll find more things that bother me. I haven’t had enough problems with it yet to justify a downgrade, but that thought is looming in the back of my mind already. When I get some time, I’ll start from scratch on the laptop and get Ultimate on it. But for right now, I’ll deal with what I’ve got, which isn’t half bad at all.

More thoughts on the changes in IE8

UPDATE: IE8 Beta 1 is now available for download. I’d recommend installing Virtual PC and then grabbing the latest Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image (Virtual Hard Disk Image for testing websites on IE on Windows XP SP2). That way you can conduct browser testing in a more controlled environment, as opposed to eradicating your local install of IE6 or IE7…

Some people will say Microsoft caved; others, that they listened to public opinion; some may even buy the company’s own explanation, which is that, given a company-wide reorientation away from proprietary winner-take-all competitiveness and toward interoperability, “web standards by default” takes precedence over “supporting all those badly made websites that were created specifically to work in IE.” Jeffrey Zeldman

Did Microsoft cave, or did it see the light? It’s hard to imagine a company as large as Microsoft “getting it” all of a sudden, but stranger things have happened. Zeldman’s post gathers many of the arguments for and against IE8’s proposed version targeting. It’s definitely worth a read. I for one am glad that Microsoft has chosen to go the more difficult route and support standards first.

A step in the right direction

The news that IE8 will now display pages in “Standards” mode, instead of requiring designers/developers to force it… is music to my ears. Granted, it wasn’t that big a deal to use a META tag to force the rendering, as originally proposed… But it IS nice to see that Microsoft is taking web standards more seriously with this new approach.

Big Day for Microsoft

MicrosoftToday was a big day for Microsoft. First, IE Desktop Online Web Browser Live Professional Ultimate Edition for the Internet aka IE8 passed the Acid2 Test. Secondly, the Windows XP SP3 Release Candidate is now in the wild.

I’m more excited about the IE8 news, to be honest. Having IE8 passing the Acid Test could mean less trouble for web designers/developers in the future. Sure, IE6 and IE7 won’t go away anytime soon, but if Microsoft were to push the browser as a critical update, it might see widespread adoption fairly quickly.

Have I mentioned I hate Outlook 2007?

Outlook Must DieHave I mentioned how much I hate Outlook 2007 lately?

  1. Daylight Savings Time: I knew that there would be issues with the Daylight Savings Times this year… but figured my calendar would be safe since I use Google Calendar to manage my appointments and whatnot. WRONG. Outlook 2007 has decided to be really, REALLY helpful and change the time of all of my appointments so that they appear an hour later. Never mind the fact that all of the events show the proper time in Google Calendar.
  2. Performance: I almost laughed typing that word. Performance and reliability are atrocious. Every time I shut down this infernal application and reopen it, I get this lovely error that says a ‘data file was closed improperly’ and that Outlook will need to scan it for corruption. Said scan takes hours. I have 4Gb RAM installed on my system. Every time I restart Outlook the same error occurs. I have no idea if my data is safe…
  3. Instant Search: I want you to go away and die. I know you want me to click you and download Windows Desktop Search so the two of you can play together, but I did that once, and the two of you brought my system to it’s knees. I want to turn you off. I should have an option to turn you off, but the only way I’ve seen to get rid of you is by installing Windows Desktop Search. Curse you.
  4. Internet Calendars: Did I mention Outlook 2007 screwed up my calendars? Thankfully Outlook 2007 can’t write to my online calendars, otherwise I would’ve been really screwed. With the DST update, all of the appointments in calendars I am subscribed to got modified locally. All appointments are now an hour later than they actually should be.

I want to like Outlook 2007, really. I am really, really trying. But this application is grating my last nerves. I’m hoping a decrease in RAM will help some. A coworker recently got a computer with Vista infected, err, pre-installed with only 1Gb RAM, so I am going to give him 2 1Gb DDR2-4200 sticks in exchange for his two 512Mb DDR-4200 sticks. I have a feeling, though, I may be downgrading soon. I can’t stand this application much longer.

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.