Microsoft: Outlook is Not “Broken”

By  |  Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Microsoft Office LogoMicrosoft has officially put the kibosh on any effort to get the company to ditch the Word rendering engine for HTML based e-mails in Outlook 2010. Over 20,000 twitterers have taken up a call by fixoutlook.org to call on the Redmond company to switch — but the company isn’t having any of it.

“We’ve made the decision to continue to use Word for creating e-mail messages because we believe it’s the best e-mail authoring experience around, with rich tools that our Word customers have enjoyed for over 25 years. Our customers enjoy using a familiar and powerful tool for creating e-mail, just as they do for creating documents. Word enables Outlook customers to write professional-looking and visually stunning e-mail messages,” said the Outlook team in a blog post Wednesday.

The company also goes on to say there is no standard for HTML in e-mail. It does not address however the evidence that Word rendering is faulty, as shown by Fix Outlook’s comparison of an email in Outlook 2000 and 2010. The rendering in 2010 is frankly horrid.

I’m not sure this is a battle that Microsoft can truly win here. With HTML e-mail now all but a de facto standard in an age of advanced e-mail clients, using a word processor to render it seems almost backwards in thinking.

Microsoft’s refusal to budge also opens the doors to competitors, notably Mozilla, to capitalize on. Remember the last time the company failed to listen to users that one of its products wasn’t up to snuff? An upstart browser captured a quarter of the market.

What do you think? Who’s right here?

 
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14 Comments For This Post

  1. JustCallMeBen Says:

    MS is in the fault… again. They try to tell the consumer what they should use AFTER the consumer has already chosen for itself. When there are other clients out there capable of most of outlooks functions, at a WAY lower price (free, anyone?), MS can’t hope to win this.

  2. Jan Says:

    The point is that Microsoft talks about authoring, while the rest of the world talks about rendering. Microsoft simply assumes that all emails are written using Outlook, and they have chosen Word as their editing tool of choice. They cannot simply switch to IE for rendering, because they would then have to build an authoring tool based on IE as well — and they don’t feel the need, because all mails written with Outlook look fine in Outlook.

    Jan

  3. James Pearce Says:

    I should think it’s entirely up to Microsoft as to what they do with their products. What’s the ‘battle’?

    Twitter crowd power has as much chance of changing their minds as it does of altering the Iranian constitution.

    Also it would be interesting to know how many of these 20,000 voices actually use Outlook in a professional capacity.

    My suspicion is that there are tens of millions of enterprise users who are frankly *thrilled* that what they learnt on their ‘Mastering Word 2010′ training day can be re-applied to their email. Let them.

    Hey – I don’t use Outlook or Word and have no interest in defending Microsoft or their software. Market forces take care of this sort of thing, and I could care less.

    But so should the busybody snobs who sign these sorts of naive petitions ;-)

  4. Unomi Says:

    Well, I hate using MicroSoft products. And indeed I don’t ‘need’ them, like I don’t need to write letters or use spreadsheet to administer data. However, my employer insist to use Vista and Outlook (2007), so I’m bound to limitations and annoyances.

    I can’t write my e-mails like I want to and I can’t use my OS like I could when using OSX or Linux. And no, that is not because I’m a retard (because I can’t define myself a retard). I’m a webdeveloper and I know enough about computers and software to be capable to do whatever I want on a computer. MicroSoft products simply take a lot of production capacity away on a daily basis.

    I don’t want to take time and effort to go after work-arounds just because MicroSoft products lack a lot of intuitive ways to do things. I don’t want to take a course of Certified Partners and give these people some money just to know how I’m supposed to use software while alternatives are much better and way more intuitive.

    MicroSoft products are built for people who don’t know better and won’t ask that many questions. Now, a lot of people have to use the crap on their jobs and still no improvements are noticable.

    - Unomi -

  5. Evan Says:

    Sounds almost Apple-like. “We’ll do it OUR way. And so will you.”

  6. Angel Says:

    “The company also goes on to say there is no standard for HTML in e-mail.”

    That’s because the same reason there is no standard for HTML in the web: The HTML standards apply everywhere, website and email.

    The rendering is wrong, and in conclusion, the program is wrong.

    I wish this didn’t affect me, but Outlook has an important userbase that will be upgrading to the 2010 version, because of that many mails have to workaround this bug (no matters how much we try to call it a feature, it’s a bug and a bad behaivour) leaving with worst emails and less style for everytone.

    Thanks Microsoft, you really found the way to f*** all of us… again!

  7. Stilgar Says:

    MS is their own worst enemy. Much like Windows is losing ground to Linux (netbooks) and MacOS, Office will continue to lose ground to competitors like Open Office, iWork and Google Docs. I think Office peaked at Office ’95, and everything since then has been feature-creep. How many users/businesses even buy new versions of Office anymore? I bet a lot of companies are still using Office ’97 or 2000. There just aren’t compelling reasons to upgrade. And when the users try to tell MS about new features they’d want (e.g. Open Document support, or the ability to disable the ribbon) and MS just responds with, “you don’t need that.”

  8. John Baxter Says:

    As a hermit who sends over 95% of his outgoing email in plain text, I say: “So what?”.

    As for incoming mail, my rule has always been “if it is hard to read, throw it away–there is lots of other email out there.”

  9. David Worthington Says:

    I talked about this with Jean Paoli and Craig Shank over lunch yesterday. They were not even aware, and said that they would look into it. They are the two top interop people at Microsoft.

  10. Jeremy Haile Says:

    MS isn’t listening to its user base or developer base again. I hope that Mozilla can pick up the pace on Thunderbird and make it more user friendly so they can strip away more users from Outlook.

    MS is once again behind the times and ignoring HTML standards. There may not be any standards for “rendering email” but there are standards for how to render HTML. Saying otherwise is like saying “there’s no standard for how PNGs should be rendered in email.”

  11. mike Says:

    SWITCH, you fools!

    Outlook is the biggest pile of crap out there. Just find another email client.

  12. Josh Says:

    Backward in thinking? Most of what Microsoft does is backward in thinking. Of course they’ll win this “battle.” The deck is stacked in their favor. Since when does Microsoft put user preferences over corporate interest?

    @James Pearce: market forces don’t apply in the presence of a monopoly.

  13. Paul Says:

    Why would Microsoft fix Outlook? They have a monopoly and don’t need to fix anything if they don’t feel like it.

  14. William Says:

    MS sucks! May the company be doomed to failure! I'm sure tired of all of their crap!
    Unfortunately if you work in IT you can get a message like "You guys are the only ones who have trouble with our messages." That's only true of course if all the other people are using Outlook 2007 and above instead of Outlook 2003 or Thunderbird or whatever.

2 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Web Media Daily – Thurs. June 25, 2009 | Reinventing Yourself... Says:

    [...] Microsoft: Outlook is Not “Broken” [...]

  2. fnordok « /dev/blog Says:

    [...] fő oka, hogy az email és általában az internetes etikett szabályai kipusztultak (ld pl tofu). A microsoft nem hajlandó ezen változtatni, továbbra is lehet worddel levelet írni. bah! ascii ribbon [...]

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