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Microsoft Taking a Step Backward with Outlook 2007

SteamedThanks to the folks over at Sitepoint for this heads up.

It’s decisions like this that really make you wonder about Microsoft. With Outlook 2007, Microsoft is no longer going to offer rendering an email utilizing the browser. Rather they are going to utilize Word.

This will result in the following limitations in Outlook:

  • no support for background images (HTML or CSS)
  • no support for forms
  • no support for Flash, or other plugins
  • no support for CSS floats
  • no support for replacing bullets with images in unordered lists
  • no support for CSS positioning
  • no support for animated GIFs

More details.

Permission-based email marketing is finally gaining acceptance and momentum with the mainstream. Interactions with readers is on the horizon as the next ‘big thing’ through event triggering and additional data interaction.

Working for a permission-based email service provider, I was looking forward to new innovation in email clients – possibilities like Flash in Email, Video in Email, Chat in Email, even Rich Email Applications that would allow folks to interact with their banks, their work, their friends, and their applications safely and securely.

It seems Microsoft is going to change that. Microsoft dominates the email market… so they have the opportunity to really enrich the customer experience by being innovative with their product. As the market leader, it is their responsibility. Rather, they seem to have taken the easy road and failed the challenge.

These are the type of decisions that must have other email client developers salivating. If you’ve not heard the name Thunderbird… you absolutely will this year!

There are those in IT that may think this is a blessing, they are probably sick and tired of worrying about the security issues associated with email. However, their lives just got a little more complicated. This type of decision simply makes users download and install other applications that will support the rich interaction they are seeking. Now IT has to worry about what’s next and how to control it.

One example: I remember when IT folks in one huge corporation I worked for blocked attachments in email. As a result, everyone in the company simply went out and got a hotmail address. (Last I heard, this is still the case with them).

C’mon Microsoft. You can do so much better than this! This is the type of flippant decision that is going to cause a lot of grief with Email Service Providers, Agencies, Marketers… and most of all, your users.

10 Comments

  1. 1

    I know myself I quit using Outlook as of this new version and the moment thunderbird makes into beta round I’m going to take a very serious look at it again; especially given the addition of tagging.

  2. 2

    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?

  3. 3

    Martin,

    I respectfully disagree with you and know, based on years of data, that you’re in a minority. Users don’t enjoy spam, but they do enjoy aesthetically pleasing emails with the content they are seeking. The clients I work with barely get any conversions off of text-based emails. HTML email are opened, clicked, and converted by an exponential rate.

    Pointless emails should never be sent. However, sending the appropriate email with the right content at the right time requires tracking opens, click-through’s and conversions on emails to find out what your taste is. We advise our clients to send less emails in smaller quantities with targeted content to get results… and it works. Case in point, surveys are fantastic for accumulating data on a client and providing them with what they want.

    Rather than getting a pointless text email, wouldn’t it be nice to get a survey that asks if the topic was relative to you? And based on that answer, the company responds appropriately? Outlook 2007 clients won’t have that experience thanks to some nutty decision up the chain of command.

    It’s a lot like walking into your favorite restaurant where they know your name, your favorite table, and how you like your meal. They didn’t do that without accumulating that information from you. It’s no different with the web or email!

    Respectfully,
    Doug

  4. 4

    Except for the look and feel of the email, you can do all of the customising in text. But I am not dissing the fact that users like nice emails, I do. What I am trying to get at is that emails are documents, and not web pages. You will be able to add advanced contect to your emails with WPF\E and other components to come. These will all be platform independant and will allow the designer a much grater range than html, including full interactive 3d enviroments.

    The main reason that the IE renderer has been removed is that there is grater access to the Windows API. And if any “Security” boxes interupt a uer they are as likeley to “OK” it as anything.

    Thus the blocking of most unsecure attachments at both the client and Exchanage level. You will however be alowed to run .NET applications in that enviroment as all .NET apps from untrused sources run in a secure, proven sandbox that has restricted access while not interupting the richnjess of the content.

    The move to an OpenXML email format is a master stroke for microsoft. It means that their procucts are interoperable with other OpenXML products like StarOffice and OpenOffice. This will allow users to move from those clients, and others like Outlook Express to Outlook without having to move to a propriatory email format.

  5. 5
  6. 6

    I usually have to edit my entries 2 or 3 times after I find my errors! No worries.

    Your points are excellent… but I think we need to challenge email as just a transport mechanism. Just think how fantastic email could be with additional functionality and integration!

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