Like many of you, I'm forced to work with Microsoft Outlook at my company. I'm also forced to design and send emails utilizing simple HTML and images to ensure that our corporate clients can read those emails. With Outlook 2007, Microsoft abandoned web standards for HTML and returned to their 2000 standard – rendering email with the Microsoft Word engine.
Outlook has now stated that their 2010 version will continue to utilize the Microsoft Word rendering engine. The only assumption I can make after a decade of no rendering enhancements is that Microsoft no longer wishes to own the Corporate Email Market. Microsoft doesn't want to assist your business in delivering messages with interactive forms, Flash, or even Silverlight integration. Microsoft must want Google to lead this market.
I think Google is preparing the takeover with Google Wave. Google Wave, if released as advertised, will open corporate communication with real-time collaboration, sharing, and a robust set of APIs for custom integration. I'm pretty sure it will render forms and Flash, too, since it's browser-based.
This could be the demise of Outlook… and Exchange as well. If Google can enhance email and add features that streamline corporate communications, the market will react. If corporations begin to bail on Outlook, there's not much of a need for Microsoft Exchange, either.
There's a growing uprising against Microsoft with this new announcement… join the chorus on Twitter! Or don't… perhaps something better is waiting around the corner!
For the last two decades I've been working with companies to leverage technology to improve and enhance their communication strategy to its fullest potential. It's incredible to me that Microsoft, while owning the corporate email market, has done so little to help drive innovation into that market.
Email marketing needs to evolve as quickly as social media has… and Microsoft should be the one stepping up. If they won't, I'm sure Google will.