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New Outlook Won't Use IE To Render HTML 319

loconet writes to tell us about a little surprise coming in Outlook 2007: it will render HTML email using the MS Word engine, dropping the use of IE for this purpose. This represents a body-check to the movement towards Web standards. Whatever you think about HTML email, lots of it gets generated, and those generating it won't be able to use CSS any more, and may stop pushing for more widespread standards support. The announcement was made on MSDN. From the Campaign Monitor post: "Imagine for a second that the new version of IE7 killed off the majority of CSS support and only allowed table based layouts. The web design world would be up in arms! Well, that's exactly what the new version of Outlook does to email designers."
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New Outlook Won't Use IE To Render HTML

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  • email designers? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:40PM (#17596142) Homepage Journal

    But why should the job title "e-mail designer" even exist? Why does e-mail even need design? The point is to get in, communicate, and get out. Making the presentation of this communication unusually attractive is for PDFs and for advertisements.

    • by John Courtland ( 585609 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:46PM (#17596240)
      The place I work for started releasing HTML emails highlighting deals for products, new features, and what not a few months ago, and the response has been nothing but positive. People like the pretty design and they reacted well to it. Not everyone is a minimalist who just wants just plain text, a lot of people want a whole dolled-up presentation.
      • Questions on that. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:53PM (#17596332)
        Are you using links back to website for the graphics, which break in certain email apps ... or are you including the graphics in the email, thus making the email messages very large?
        • by Kjella ( 173770 )
          Are you using links back to website for the graphics, which break in certain email apps ... or are you including the graphics in the email, thus making the email messages very large?

          For a strange definition of "very large". My email is not full of 100k html w/image emails. It's full of 5MB powerpoint presentations and word documents, excel sheets and whatnot as attachments. Even when remotely checking my email in hotels and crap, it's not a worry. Maybe it would be a worry if I could check it over my cell p
          • by dkf ( 304284 )
            I can recommend using a BSCW [fraunhofer.de] to replace sending loads of documents round by email, especially once the documents start to get really large. By just sending around a link to the right place in the BSCW server's document hierarchy, you can let people know where to pick up the document without forcing everyone to deal with it (great for mailing lists!) Other nice features: it can give you a report of who read (or updated) that important file you uploaded, and it can support versioning of documents (useful for
        • by oliderid ( 710055 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:00PM (#17597098) Journal
          I attach them to e-mails.

          I work for communication agencies. Here is how it works usually:

          They tell me that they need to send an e-mailing for X (products, event, whatever). here is the content and the lay-out (a mockup). It should be sent before XX/XX/20XX at X O'clock (if it is a local business, at 9 in the morning because people are reading their emails).

          So we make the lay-out, we place the content. We test it ith a series of webmails, Thunderbird, Lotus Notes (yes we still do...), Apple Mail, Outlook and so on. We send a test email to the communication agency.

          They tell me to increasse the font size, align paragraph X with the picture...That's all.

          But attached images or links is purely technical business. If it is linked it will appear as broken link for the communication agency (images are usually blocked by software because fake pictures can help spammers to know that an email account is active or not): They don't understand it.

          Some of them who understands a bit of technique force us to send a pure HTML email (no multipart plain text) because some software are configured to render the plain text first.

          All they want me to do is an email that works and an email that respects laws (link to unsubscription, etc.) and of course some stats such as the number of clicks on a link inside the HTML email (can be easily calcultated with a redirect script).

          I have rarely use CSS anyway. Such a technique is already incompatible with a variety of applications (broken links to the CSS file or styles overriden by webmails for example).

          For those who say that plain text email works better than HTML email: it depends of your target. I will certainly advice plain text for a geek mailing list but for lambda users they prefer shiny lay-out (stats prooves it).

          For those who said that they can't read the email with Pine or with their telnet account. Nobody care about martians.

        • Ok, HTML Emails are appalling. They're hideous, unnecessary, garish and trite. They should be blocked, banned, their purveyors and designers blacklisted.

          But.. I've done it. I've manually encoded html with embedded images for sending to a client that used HTML emails internally, impressed the client and got some benefit from that.

          sigh... I must be a bad, bad man.

          • Re:Guilty. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @02:49AM (#17600242) Homepage
            Ok, HTML Emails are appalling. They're hideous, unnecessary, garish and trite. They should be blocked, banned, their purveyors and designers blacklisted.

            But.. I've done it. I've manually encoded html with embedded images for sending to a client that used HTML emails internally, impressed the client and got some benefit from that.

            I think it is time for us old farts to give up this fight, and admit we lost--and that we lost because we were actually on the wrong side.

            Consider regular mail. The kind you put on paper and send in an envelope via the post office. If I were sending someone a regular mail asking them, say, about a strange spike in bandwidth usage last Tuesday, I would, naturally, include a graph showing bandwidth usage for the week. And if I also mentioned that the new server rack was in place, I might include a photo, either separately in the envelope, or inline in the letter.

            Now let's imagine email had never been invented, and we just came up with the idea. How would we design an email system? I think we'd think it obvious that we have to make it at least as capable as regular mail, and would probably come up with an HTML body plus attachments as the format (for portability, as opposed to word processor formats). I think there is zero chance we'd say "wait a minute...we'd better make this plain text only, because 25 years ago, many computers did not have graphical displays".

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by WNight ( 23683 )
              The problem with HTML, web and email, is that it gives the creator control over scale, not just layout.

              When plain-text email arrives it's *always* in the size and font that I have chosen for maximum readability, with HTML email it's almost always forced to a very inconvenient size.

              I never had a problem reading stuff online before, until I got a 24" LCD. Now everything by default is this tiny ribbon down the middle third of the screen. When I use Firefox to resize the fonts (try that in IE! Hah!) unfortunate
      • Re:email designers? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zarel ( 900479 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:58PM (#17596388)
        TFA complains that the new Word rendering engine in Outlook doesn't support very much CSS, and fancy e-mail designs will have to use table-based layouts.

        On a completely unrelated note, all Microsoft's e-mail newsletters use table-based layouts.
      • the response has been nothing but positive
        Perhaps, for now. Where I work (at a very, very large company) it seems like every big application release notification (enterprise wide apps), corporate communication, etc, etc comes with a flash movie embedded in it. Trust me, what was once a novelty quickly becomes an annoyance.

        It's like they say, all emphasis is no emphasis. When every eMail is a dolled-up HTML doohickie, nobody will care anymore.
      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )
        As long as you are reasonable about it, i agree. But 99.9% over do it and make a mess of things.

        Going back to text only isnt a bad idea.
      • by tacocat ( 527354 )

        I recognize the value of eye-candy on email. Especially when making marketing material. But the cost is too high. If you only accepted plain text email then you would have the opportunity to accurately eliminate something like 99.99% of all spam with ease by use of any of a number of spam filtering engines. HTML and IMG tags make it more difficult to trap.

        What do you think would be the response from email users if they had a choice between graphically punched up messages with a lot of spam or living wi

    • Any (intelligent) email client should not automatically open an attachment (even PDF) for security reasons, and every user should be trained not to open any unexpected attachments; this means that even though PDF/DOC can be read on the majority of computers they can not be sent as an email. This means that you have to send all the formatting inside of the character string that makes up the body of the email; there are several ways you can format text by simply passing ASCII/UTF characters but the way that i
      • The only problem like this I've ever had with KMail (a KDE-based mail client) was with a Flash plugin which totally borked the web browsers. Yes, plural. Everything that had a Flash plugin died when pointed at this particular Telstra website. Some of them thoroughly enugh to require a KILL.

        PDFs, DOCs et al all open jess fahrn through the appropriate helper application (xpdf/ghostview, OpenOffice, whatever).

        OTOH, many Windows-centered customers have had machines & even entire networks trashed after openi
    • Re:email designers? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sane? ( 179855 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:00PM (#17596416)

      What the hell is it with the hair shirt brigade?

      Do you whine and whinge about graphics and layout on webpages? No, you whine and whinge about people NOT using CSS. You even get up in arms about badly constructed CSS webpages not rendering correctly (Acid2).

      Well guess what. For certain purposes how an email looks is very important - at least as important as what it says. Using the same standard for that is used for webpages makes a vast amount of sense. Thus this move by Microsoft is another f*ck y*u to those that want some sanity and consistancy in approach.

      You want to send text only email, then send text only emails. But don't start whine about those that need and use more.

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:18PM (#17596604)

        Using the same standard [for e-mail] for that is used for webpages makes a vast amount of sense.

        No, it doesn't, for several reasons.

        For a start, e-mail is a push medium, while the web is a pull medium. I am unlikely to accidentally receive a huge web page containing nothing but junk advertising by mistake; the closest you get is an e-commerce or review site that contains lots of banner ads. I am unlikely to accidentally receive a web page full of porn, or other material that may not be legal in my jurisdiction. If a web page is bloated and takes ages to load over a 56K modem (don't make the mistake of thinking everyone has high-speed Internet access; we are far from there yet) then I can stop it and go somewhere else, while most people don't know how to configure their e-mail client to ignore big spam mails and get to the important stuff.

        Next up, about 99.999% of the web using public use a fully graphical browser (source: my backside). In contrast, a very significant proportion of e-mail users have text-only mail clients. This includes many in the academic community, increasing numbers of people who read e-mail on devices other than a desktop or laptop computer with a big screen, etc.

        There are several other issues as well, but I think either of those alone is enough to refute your point. As a third and final point for now, not everyone uses Outlook to read mail, not by a long shot. If Microsoft play chicken here, I think they'll lose this one, just as Firefox tends to lose the standards argument with any non-geek who finds his bank/cinema/local shop web site doesn't render properly. "But it works with $POPULAR_ALTERNATIVE!" they will cry, as they wonder what this rubbish software on their computer is doing there and why stuff used to work and is now broken.

        • by Slur ( 61510 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:27PM (#17598866) Homepage Journal
          Well, it would make sense to move towards XML for all its useful qualities:

            * A simple, open standard
            * Conveniently human-readable
            * Platform Agnostic - unknown tags and attributes can be ignored
            * Data Includes clear type information

          The HTML / XHTML / CSS rendering engines are powerful things. They provide a worthy layout system, which is what some email calls-for, and in the case of XHTML/CSS it provides a means to distribute information in a human- and machine-readable way that includes rich contextual information. Most importantly, it's a simple open standard that any application can adopt, and it avoids duplication of effort for the purpose of device-agnostic layout.

          Microsoft is making a blunder by doing this. It's an echo of their days of trying to knock down Netscape by leveraging their platform. They are now trying to do the same thing to open standards. As a monopoly, you might argue that Microsoft is using their monopoly position to lock out a viable competitor. Standards represent something analogous to software, and having a monopoly on standards is not different than having a monopoly on software.

          If the case were clearer, maybe the EFF would take it up.
      • > But don't start whine about those that need and use more.

        You don't do real work for a living, do you?

        HTML e-mails are abused a lot. If the format is more important then the content, then you don't do real work.


        • by markhb ( 11721 )
          You know what I have observed? The unreal work pays much better than the real work.
      • by 2short ( 466733 )
        "You want to send text only email, then send text only emails"

        OK, no problem. But, in addition, I'd like to *receive* text only emails. If you'd like you mail reader to support all sorts of bells and whistles, feel free to use one that does. If how your email looks is important to you, I don't see how that's my problem, or my mail readers. (And frankly, if your email has some look that isn't easily achieved with close to plain text, I'm just going to delete it unread anyway; I've never seen a flashy-loo
    • Newspapers send out nicely formatted "read your local newspaper in the morning from your mailbox" emails. They are purely opt-in, and the people who want them generally want nice formatting. Plus links, which is a key part of HTML mail.

      We send out a nicely formatted text version as well. Even the pure text version is still subject to design decisions on how to position stories and headlines versus summaries. HTML is a tool, but even without it, designing nicely formatted emails for a large group of peo

    • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:03PM (#17597134)
      But why should the job title "e-mail designer" even exist?

      Because it sounds better than "spammer".
    • but they NEED dancing hampsters
    • I set all my computers to only accept plain text. If I want dancing monkeys in the background then I'll go to Gibraltar.
    • Agreed, and if emails with inline images were blocked you'd instantly cut down on a whole avenue of spam.
    • And if someone wants to send me a "feature rich" email, they should just send me a link to a page on their website instead.
    • I work for a hosting enabler company providing services for entities ranging from individuals to organisations to companies to Telcos. Part of that entails generating e-mails to account holders for Welcome Letters, Job Responses and for various hosting/accounting events.

      Up until recently everyone has been happy to use text-only e-mails and they have been simple to generate. With all of the phishing e-mail getting around, though, at the Telcos requests we have had to implement HTML-mail so that "branding" c

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:42PM (#17596170)
    It has ALWAYS used Word to render the HTML.

    And if it DID change from this to IE, the geeks would be complaining the same -- because IE is a lot more tied to the system than Word.

    Beyond this, the items that don't get rendered are good things -- for *EMAIL*.

    I don't want someone being able to play with images too much. I don't want messages sent to me fucking with the positions. I don't want Javascript running in my email. I don't want forms that could potentially read the rest of my inbox available (if the JS were activated that geeks are getting up in arms about).

    Almost everything that Word doesn't do are features I don't want my email reader to do.

    Then again, I read my mail in plain text. I don't use Windows, I'm on a Mac right now using Foxfire (I don't like safari). My business lives off of BSD and Linux for our servers. And fucking shit...I'm having to defend Microsoft on this.
    • by daeg ( 828071 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:54PM (#17596336)
      Your business may live off of text e-mail, and that's fine, most reputable companies also send nice text copies, too. I prefer text e-mail when at all possible.

      However, Outlook 2003 used IE for rendering. It ran in a very strict security zone -- no external ANYTHING (except, and only images, and only if you enabled them, with defaults to "off").

      If you send RTF e-mail (worse than HTML), it used the Word rendering engine. That's why I don't understand this change at all. If you format a message in Word, doesn't it send it as RTF, and thus render under word on the recipient's computer?

      Personally, I fear the Word engine more than IE7, by far! The Word format allows you to embed all sorts of nasties, including macros, 3rd party objects, other documents, etc.

      Like it or not, e-mail is used for more than quick notes to each other. It's used for invoices, advertisement (tasteful or not, opt in or not), pictures, etc, things that a secure, well-rounded rendering engine (like IE7 under strict settings in a sandbox) could help with.

      Step in the completely wrong direction, again, Microsoft. And to think I was going to sign up for their release party to get a free copy of Office. Hah!
    • It is a good thing, but in the eyes of many slashdotters and geeks anything MS does is wrong. Word's restrictions can only mean good things for security. So this boils down to MS being smarter about security and people finding a problem with that.

      Im glad someone is drawing the line here. Ive gotten javascript in my email. JS in my friggin email? Designers simply cannot treat email as the 'push web.' Considering there's so much you can do with tables, I'm pretty sure this faux-outrage will not be heard o
      • Agreed. Where I work, the big thing is (and has been forever) to send Flash(!) in eMail. I mean, come on! It's exactly what you said -- "push web". Pointy haired bosses love it. They sure won't like this new no HTML thing, so guess what? We'll just see more Flash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      >It has ALWAYS used Word to render the HTML.
      "Microsoft Office applications, including Outlook, use Internet Explorer to render HTML in various parts of the applications. Microsoft Outlook does not contain any core code designed to render HTML. Instead, when HTML needs to be rendered, Outlook can use Internet Explorer in one of two ways:..." [microsoft.com]
      >if the JS were activated that geeks are getting up in arms about
      Nobody sane advocates JS in email. The complaint is about not having CSS.
  • HTML email (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mobby_6kl ( 668092 )
    is the tool of the devil! Maybe this would finally kill it off completely, and as another benefit, it won't be vulnerable to IE exploits.
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      <tounge-in-cheek>No... instead it'll be vulnerable to Office Exploits.</tongue-in-cheek>
    • HTML mail annoys me as well... I block images from most incoming mail by default as an anti-spam measure, so fancy HTML formatted messages like this end up looking like crap when I open them. I wish that these "e-mail designers" would give their users an choice between plain text and HTML messages before sending us junk mail!
  • Good Thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kschawel ( 823163 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMli.ath.cx> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:44PM (#17596204)
    Isn't this a good thing? Exploits in the IE engine will not be able to be exploited through email. IMHO, emails should be text based with little formatting and the CSS and image heavy content should be on a web page. I know that people will disagree with me, but I believe it is a good thing.

    • Yeah - only exploits in the Word rendering engine!
    • Bad Thing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:51PM (#17596310)
      Now Microsoft will have TWO HTML renderers to debug and maintain. They had enough trouble with one.

      Now we'll see exploits for IE and exploits for Outlook's renderer.

      They've made the rendering part of the OS. If you cannot replace it with a different one, at least all of their apps should rely upon the same, built-in, OS functionality.
      • by Ziest ( 143204 )
        I personally think Microsoft is getting a kick back from the spammers. They don't seem to do a very good job of patching their software and now they are opening up a new hole for spammers to get through. One step forward, 12 steps bask.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by archen ( 447353 )
        If done right I think this could be a good thing. For instance look at all the hooks required in a web browser for Javascript - the source of MANY IE and Firefox problems. By making one browser a static layout engine without Javascript, Active X, Java, Plugins or any of that other junk this could really make Outlook more secure.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:27PM (#17596746)
      Yes, this is another step forward in Microsoft recognizing CSS as a threat to the Web and the World as a whole. We can't have average users' safety compromised by evil background colors or malicious absolute positioning. Good Thing (tm) I say, and good riddance!
    • I agree. I still use plain text when I can and am usually quicker to delete an email out of reflex if it has a background or colored text. I only want email to convey information - you want to put a picture on it? Attach it and I'll be more likely to open it and actually look at it then delete it. Sorry - bit of a rant ... really hate fancy email.
  • Interesting. I wonder if this marks the beginning of a move away from IE for Microsoft.
  • Gmail (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @06:45PM (#17596234)
    Is this not similar to the way Gmail (or any other web based e-mail for that matter) deals with CSS? From a quick look at TFA I noticed it's very similar to the constraints posed on Gmail; no relative spacing, no background image support... take a look at this page: http://www.xavierfrenette.com/articles/css-support -in-webmail/ [xavierfrenette.com]

    So, really, nothing new here. It's not like other clients aren't just as bad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mistlefoot ( 636417 )
      Are you implying that FREE Gmail will be run using the same constraints as my $500 per copy Office suite?


      The saying "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" comes to mind. I'm buying a horse, and the most expensive horse on the average users markets and I'm looking at the teeth very thoroughly.
  • Wonder if this is more of a solution to improve the security of outlook rather than a nefarious plan to destroy html based email, the less you have to do the less of a concern there is (browsers need to support the latest, craziest cutting-edge stuff out there, emails probably don't need to)
  • There are legitimate uses for HTML mail (think newsletters that people actually subscribe to because they want to stay informed). Unfortunately, just like anything -- on the internet or otherwise -- those that seek to abuse the system end up ruining it for everyone.

    That aside, if they're trying to fix security problems, they're pretty much throwing the baby out with the bathwater -- there are decided advantages to being able to use CSS and proper markup, even in email (think smaller messages, and messages t
    • There are legitimate uses for HTML mail (think newsletters that people actually subscribe to because they want to stay informed). Unfortunately, just like anything -- on the internet or otherwise -- those that seek to abuse the system end up ruining it for everyone.

      Well while this might break the ability to present a fully formatted web page in e-mail, it may just encourage people to host such content, instead of overloading e-mail with it. The added advantage of hosted content, is reduced storage needs. An
    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      God invented PDF for these things.
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      tshirthell.com does it right, the email newsletter is text with a link to the graphics.
  • I remember when The Outlook 98 "upgrade" to Outlook 97 first came out. This was the first version of Outlook that had the HTML message type (in addition to the normal RTF and plain text). This was also the first version of outlook to require IE to be installed and one of the first really popular apps to require it. Win95 and Win NT 4 that were popular at the time didn't necessarily have IE. All the PHBs "oohed" and "ahhed" over this version of outlook and insisted they wanted it on all of the computers (bes
  • My system bounces HTML e-mail anyway. (Short of nuking from High Orbit, its the only way to be sure!)

    Seriously, if its HTML its sure to be spam anyway. We don't need it. We don't want it. Send it strait to hell.

    • I receive a number of HTML newsletters that are decidedly not spam. So lay off the "we" stuff. You're not the only person on this planet, you know.

      Moreover, if you think this will decrease the volume of HTML email you're receiving, you're wrong. What it will do is increase the odds that you find yourself opening un-renderable mail, and it will make the lives of those of us who work for a living (and have to meet the expectations of clients, who are not schooled in this stuff) twice as difficult. Part of the
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:22PM (#17596676) Homepage
    Embrace, extend, and extinguish.

    But, fortunately, each version of Word seems to do an equally bad job of rendering previous versions of its own "standard."

    I was in a meeting once that got a little heated. Notes had been circulated in advance by the presenter, as Word attachments to email. After some puzzling exchanges, it became clear that one recipient was on the verge of anger because the presenter had apparently failed to include the key information, the discussion of which was the purpose of the meeting.

    Finally the presenter said, "But, but, but, it's all in the table on page 2."

    The recipient said, "Yeah, right--but all the important entries are... BLANK!" There were murmurs of "hear, hear" from others. Then someone piped up and said "What do you mean blank? They're not blank in my copy."

    About half the attendees had good copies; half had copies where the important table entries appeared blank.

    The odd part is that the presenter and the recipients with blank tables were all using identical version numbers of Word and of Windows. Some other recipients, also using the same versions of Word and Windows, had accurate copies.

    It turned out that a) if the contents of a table cell were too large to fit in the cell, instead of displaying a clipped or truncated version of the text--as anyone would expect--Word simply rendered the cell contents as perfect and absolute blank. Had you known this was happening, you could have edited the table to widen the column, causing the text magically to appear... but who would have guessed this was happening? b) In order to render the table properly, the recipient needed not only to have the same version of Word and of Windows, as the sender, and not only all of the fonts used by the sender, but needed to have his screen set to the same resolution!

    I am not really sure how large organizations manage to tolerate Word. I suppose they must be willing to upgrade the entire desktop configuration--Windows, Word, fonts, screen size and all--of everyone in the company all at the exact same time.

    P. S. Annoyingly enough, the presenter at one point suggested that all the problems were probably being experienced by Mac users. Fortuitously, as it happened none of the Mac users in fact had experienced problems. This was not a result of intrinsic Mac superiority, just an illustration that Microsoft incompetence strikes utterly at random and is not always directed by Machivellian Redmond strategy.

    P. P. S. Yes, this was some years ago. No, I have no idea whether Microsoft has fixed this in current versions. I'm personally running Office 98 under Classic and won't upgrade until I'm forced to. I've spend way too much money on Microsoft "upgrades" that add some spiffy new features, a lot of bling, gratuitously change the shortcuts and screen locations of every functions, while failing to fix any of the actual bugs that drive me nuts. If anyone has a tutorial on how to edit numbered lists and bullet lists in a long document without changes in one list causing dozens of incomprehensible changes to other totally unrelated lists throughout the document, please let me know...
    • Let me guess... the people having the problems were using a different printer from the people who had no problems.

      Windows font metrics (and thus, rendering in Word) depend on the actual printer resolution. Yes, your truetype fonts will change size with different printers. The effect is subtle, but it causes changes in pagination and can cause things to overflow slightly in tables. Mac OS doesn't do this (and afaik, never has).

      This is why Word may give you "Unable to retrieve printer information" if you a
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DavidTC ( 10147 )

        The greatest gotcha ever.

        Once upon a time, I was in college. We had rooms of identical computers in the labs, and two different types of printers. We also had the library, with computers and one of those printer types.

        What did this translate to? If you did the work the library, and printed it in some of the labs, your formatting would be off. In others you'd have no problem.

        In those computer labs, during classes that had and things to print and turn in, there'd always be someone who walked in with the do

    • by stoneguy ( 324887 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @08:35PM (#17597462)

      If anyone has a tutorial on how to edit numbered lists and bullet lists in a long document without changes in one list causing dozens of incomprehensible changes to other totally unrelated lists throughout the document, please let me know...
      There is an explanation. It has to do with Styles. You see, Microsoft wants you to use Styles, instead of doing inline layout. In fact, they want you to use Styles so much that when you lay out some text, they generate a Style on-the-fly that describes your layout. When you use the same layout next time, Word decides "Oh, this is a Style I already know about", and attaches it to your text.

      The kicker comes when you modify one of the instances. Word takes that to mean that you're modifying not just that instance, but the definition of the Style. So every other instance changes too.

      The solution is to explicitly create a Style for each layout you want to use, and invoke it explicitly. Microsoft REALLY wants you to use Styles. After all, it's more efficient to format with Styles. And that makes it a best practice. And everyone knows Microsoft is all about best practices.
  • This is fine with me, because HTML email fucking sucks anyway. Maybe if they make it suck even worse, everybody will go back to plain text.
    • Some of us aren't so cynical. Do you know how difficult it is to express information without tables using plain text? It's not fun at all. There are legitimate uses for HTML in e-mail. Just none involving javascript, CSS, and anything beyond basic HTML tags.
  • by TheSunborn ( 68004 ) <.tiller. .at. .daimi.au.dk.> on Saturday January 13, 2007 @07:29PM (#17596774)
    I know this is slashdot, and nobody really like Microsoft or read the story, but the summery is wrong.

    Here http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa338201. aspx [microsoft.com] is a list of supported css and html in Outlook.
    The things missing are tags such as form and object, and some javascript support, but nobody is going to blame microsoft for not supporting onClick in emails. And yes tables are supported.

    • by madprof ( 4723 )
      Excellent. As we can see here, it is unbelievably poor support.

      Thanks for posting the link though, it is very helpful.
  • Email is a text-only, ultra-reliable, easily-archivable and printable means of text communication. HTML should have never been allowed in the first place and I still reject it, whenever I get it. This design-fetisch some people have is not only completely counterproductiove, it diminishes the worth of the medium itself by removing the attributes I listed in the beginning.

    Binary attachments are ok, but not as the message itself.

  • Word isn't ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Falladir ( 1026636 )
    Why not use Frontpage [microsoft.com] Expression Web or Sharepoint? Oh, are they not included in Office [microsoft.com]? This can't be for real. I'm appalled that Word doesn't support CSS, but if MS really plans to use an HTML renderer that is so far from being standards-compliant for Office, how can they hope to be competitive? (yes, I agree that HTML mail is silly and bloated, but many people still like it on some level)
  • by eagl ( 86459 )
    I don't care because the only "designed" email I get is sent from spammers or has a virus/trojan attached.

    If MS chose to toss out html email entirely and go to either plain or rich text, that would also be just fine with me, because I don't remember hearing about anyone having their computer taken over by security holes a text file and notepad. If this switch enhances security, then that's great too.
    • by truedfx ( 802492 )
      Plain text editors can have security holes too. vim has had security bugs that could be triggered simply by pressing the Reply key in your e-mail app and having vim as your default editor.
  • Oh, great... (Score:2, Insightful)

    The only MS software that could be worse than IE has got to be Word, which is the most horrible piece of software ever written by man (given that Lotus Notes was written by some kind of invertebrate). This is lovely, the new Outlook will take 2 minutes to start, and crash while you're writing a message, and autorecover won't work, and you'll spend 30 minutes trying to get autonumber to work.

    Good thing I've been using Thunderbird for 3 years.

  • For my own personal and business communications, i use plain text for my e-mail 100% of the time. In the 1-in-a-million case that I need something more, I attach a PDF. I hate SPAM. However, there are a few company advertisements that I have opted to receive because they actually deal with things of interest to me. I don't mind getting a Paizo publishing newsletter in my e-mail, I'm often interested to know what new products they're carrying and what new books are out. Ditto for NewEgg. These, by defi
  • Part of my job is to send out advertising email to our confirmed, double opt-in, easy opt-out email list (see, i'm not evil) and I send plain text and html emails depending on their signup options.

    Two comments. 1) I did cross browser testing on all the major web-based email providers and a couple clients and found CSS support is so bad it was unusable - WE NEVER COULD USE CSS IN HTML EMAILS! At least not in the real world. Maybe in a corporate environement where you know the client each user will use. I
  • Now MS Windows users don't have to worry about emails running hostile Javascript or ActiveX controls unsandboxed with full privileges. Now emails will be able to run hostile BASIC MS Word macros unsandboxed with full privileges instead. I bet they feel safer already.

  • Outlook has been using word to render opened emails and edit emails by default for a few versions now (but not for preview, afaik). So the news is they pulled the option to render/edit using IE? The HTML support is somewhat more limited but still perfectly capable of color, fonts, tables, and images? CSS for emails??? Do you complain that slashdot posts can't use the full gamut of HTML features that are possible for web pages?

    Email is a different medium, and a more limited set of HTML is appropriate. I'
  • Outlook not good!
  • by DavidD_CA ( 750156 ) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:27PM (#17598864) Homepage

    The headline and summary are 99% wrong.

    Outlook 2007 supports HTML and CSS quite well. Many of you should know this, as you've had the chance to beta test it for about a year now. I have, and all of the HTML newsletters I subscribe to look just fine in Outlook.

    In fact, Microsoft has even gone a step further and provided a free CSS/HTML validator [microsoft.com] that developers can use to make sure their messages will be rendered correctly.

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