Microsoft Tries to Explain Away Outlook 2007 Controversy

Microsoft is trying to dampen criticism by explaining its controversial decision to unify the rendering and editing engines in Outlook 2007 and use only the Word 2007 engine, even though there are some HTML and Cascading Style Sheet attributes that the engine does not currently support. The move is a significant change from previous versions of Outlook, which actually used two rendering engines: Internet Explorer's engine was used for reading content, while Word was used for editing content when a user was composing messages. Outlook 2007 now uses the HTML parsing and rendering engine from Word 2007 to display HTML message bodies.

However, there are some HTML and CSS attributes that the Word 2007 rendering engine does not support, and Outlook 2007 now does not use the same standards as Internet Explorer 7. The move has not been well-received by some bloggers, such as SitePoint's Kevin Yank, who said in a recent post that instead of taking advantage of Internet Explorer 7, Outlook 2007 uses the very limited support for HTML and CSS built into Word 2007 to display HTML e-mail messages.

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News source: eWeek

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25 Comments

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The truth is Microsoft didn't have the time or talent to design a proper HTML rendering engine for Outlook 2007 so they are just pretending this is a security feature. Maybe if they had taken another 6 months and released Office 2007 properly it wouldn't have these issues.

hardgiant said,
The truth is Microsoft didn't have the time or talent to design a proper HTML rendering engine for Outlook 2007 so they are just pretending this is a security feature. Maybe if they had taken another 6 months and released Office 2007 properly it wouldn't have these issues.

I disagree. I don't think e-mail should be used as a medium for webpages. It was designed for communication in the form of a letter, not interactive messeging. Second, you're either ignorant or apart of the troll croud if you believe Microsoft couldn't have taken the time or have the talent to design an HTML rendering engine for Word/Outlook; the truth is real business' could care less about HTML/CSS support for Word/Outlook.

MS definitely did the right thing here by not putting Ie crap into Outlook any longer :)
Html has absolutely no place in eMail, and the only ones that are constantly using Html in emails are spammers, scammers & Co.
Since quite some time already, I've set my Thunderbird to display all emails as plain text. It didn't do any damage, except to some spam eMails.

I agree with the majority here (Oh, God, did I just say that? :P ). The ONLY HTML emails I get are SPAM. And I would seriously like Outlook to stop processing scripts in HTML emails. This is a very positive step imo. I any of my friends or family send me HTML emails, I politely tell them how to change it and to please do so. IMO HTML should never have been part of the email spec. Period. I hope this does NOT get "fixed".

The limitations are not only bad. It would be better (IMHO) to develop a HTML-mail standard, so you could get the basic text formatting with semantic markup and no obscure positioning here and there. Then any mail client that don't support the format could just strip the markup and know it would display properly.

Tabular layout in HTML mail is so evil the senders should be blacklisted.

Plain text or Rich Text is fine for email... The chances are that the links and pictures are probably turned off by default when the email is viewed anyway.

If you need someone to see anything more than that send them a link to a webpage.

Wow MS will get flammed for doing anything people want! Remeber the huge issue of them embedding IE into windows in all its forms, well know they take it out of Outlook and people still complain! I seriuosly think MS could give away vista with $5.00 inside and people would complain that its not enough money!

On a serious note, im glad that they took that crap out of their, i like my emails plain and simple, easy to read and understand...if i wanted to look at crappy moving backgrounds with flashy icons i would goto myspace.com and behold all its profoundness

I don't see a problem with this at all... I'd rather have a HTML rendering engine that will provide better security than one that all kinds of fancy visual effects.

(Did not RTFA)
Uh this is brutally obvious to me. MS has flat out stated before that with their recent line they're no longer integrating with IE like they used to (and I do give them credit for that).

Furthermore, what the heck are you doing with your e-mail where you need advanced CSS and HTML attributes? Personally I want to smack someone anytime I see HTML in an e-mail, aside from basic formatting.

I completely agree with that. I can't stand receiving emails that are full of animated pictures and annoying backgrounds. CSS is completely and totally unnecessary for emails. Basic HTML support is all that's required.

And it's also surprising to me that people are just now realizing that Outlook no longer uses IE for rendering emails. I noticed that when I tested the first beta of it. I didn't realize that it was using the Word engine, but I didn't really care.

Chugworth said,
I completely agree with that. I can't stand receiving emails that are full of animated pictures and annoying backgrounds. CSS is completely and totally unnecessary for emails. Basic HTML support is all that's required.

True, I think that HTML email should be banned (You want to show someone a web page? Send them a link), but what do you mean by "Basic HTML support"? All that <font face="blah blah"> AOLerMySpacer type code? We're trying to move away from that crap and you're advocating its return?

100% Agreed with you, Raptor. The only email messages I receive with gaughty HTML and CSS is SPAM. Not only that it is good for MS to loosen its ties to IE. That way security bugs are isolated to single apps and not across everything.

The only HTML I do use in my emails is color code when an email is bouncing between multiple people. Word's rendering engine is 100% adequate here.

mrbester said,

True, I think that HTML email should be banned (You want to show someone a web page? Send them a link), but what do you mean by "Basic HTML support"? All that <font face="blah blah"> AOLerMySpacer type code? We're trying to move away from that crap and you're advocating its return?

Basic HTML support is needed for text formatting. All that I am advocating is that Outlook 2007's email rendering works fine the way it is.

You're completely on a different argument. HTML email is not going anywhere - it makes companies way too much money! The fact is that consumers respond better to a nice picture than a text email.

Microsoft doing what IT thinks is best. I'd be so excited if they released something that people were just intently and honestly excited and happy about.

What about that crowd of loud crybabies that always yelled that IE was too much integrated in Windows?
This is what they asked for. Blame it on them.