Designers criticise Outlook 2010

The Email Standards Project (ESP) has organised a petition against Microsoft’s planned use of the Word rendering engine to display HTML email in Outlook.

Designers criticise Outlook 2010

The group of designers, which advises email client developers, has complained that the move would make designing HTML emails far harder.

“After testing the latest beta of Outlook 2010 and seeing the same poor standards support as 2007, a senior member of the Outlook team confirmed they plan on continuing to use Word to render HTML emails,” explains a post on the ESP blog.

“Not only that, but early tests indicate that HTML support in the Word engine has not been improved in any way. Same bugs. Same quirks,” it adds.

To demonstrate its objection, the ESP blog post includes a screenshot of an email rendered in both Outlook 2000 and 2010. In the newer version of the software, the email appears without much of the styling present when viewed in Outlook 2000.

Microsoft claims that the use of the Word rendering engine gives Outlook users access to tools such as SmartArt and automatic templates. Outlook product manager, Dev Balasubramanian, explained the design decision to the ESP.

“I am aware of where this decision on our part places Outlook from a standards perspective – at the same time, we ask that you consider the benefits Outlook users get from having Word tools in their email authoring experience,” he said.

The ESP suggests that a good compromise would be to update the Word rendering engine to support standard HTML. The petition is designed to encourage Microsoft to adopt this strategy between now and Outlook 2010’s release, expected in a year’s time.

“Outlook 2010 is still in beta and Microsoft wants your feedback. It’s time to rally together and encourage Microsoft to embrace web standards before it’s too late,” says the petition’s website.

At the time of writing, 8,191 people had signed the petition, by tweeting a meesage that includes the URL

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