Ben Langhinrichs

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Outlook trying to imitate Notes - even the bad parts

Fri 12 Jan 2007, 02:02 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
As mystifying as it may seem, given the near universal distaste for the way MIME e-mail renders in Lotus Notes, Microsoft clearly feels the competitive heat and is taking steps to ensure that its e-mail rendering in Microsoft Outlook is equally poor.  As reported by David Greiner in Microsoft takes email design back 5 years, Microsoft Outlook 2007 has stopped using the Internet Explorer rendering engine, and is using the Microsoft Word rendering engine instead, which is a bit like using the Lotus Notes rendering engine.  To quote Mr. Greiner, here is what Outlook users can expect:
  1. No background images - Background images in divs and table cells are gone, meaning Mark's image replacement technique is out the window. 
  2. Poor background color support - Give a div or table cell a background color, add some text to it and the background color displays fine. Nest another table or div inside though and the background color vanishes. 
  3. No support for float or position - Completely breaking any CSS based layouts right from the word go. Tables only. 
  4. Shocking box model support - Very poor support for padding and margin, and you thought IE5 was bad!
Now, doesn't that sound like Lotus Notes to you?  Who'd have thought Microsoft would try to imitate even the bad things in Lotus Notes?

And what are the Microsofties going to say when they see the rumored rendering engine in Notes 8 that allows all these features?

In case you think David is simply making this up, see Microsoft's list of supported HTML.  They manage to hide what is now unsupported in a vast quantity of supported data, but there are interesting tidbits you can glean anyway.  For example, here is a doozy from one of the lists:

Table of unsupported attributes

So, in 2007, Microsoft doesn't think alt attributes are important anymore?  I'm speechless.

Copyright 2007 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

544.1. Nathan T. Freeman
(01/12/2007 03:24 PM)

How do you think MS is able to claim that Outlook is so much more secure? They had to switch rendering engines because IE is so vulnerable.

544.2. thierry
(01/15/2007 08:07 PM)

that sounds a lot like bashing.

I think this has a lot more to do with the new Office file formats in the first place, and second if Microsoft were to really remove IE from Windows due to legal actions, Office would not get broken.