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New Outlook Won't Use IE To Render HTML

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the 7-years-back dept.

Microsoft 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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319 comments

email designers? (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596142)

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.

Re:email designers? (5, Insightful)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 7 years ago | (#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. (3, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Re:Questions on that. (1)

Matje (183300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596750)

...are you including the graphics in the email, thus making the email messages very large?


Who cares whether the email messages become large. If your emails are focused on a market where most people have broadband, then the readers won't really care.

in the Netherlands everyone I know has broadband access. On the low end of the market pay-by-minute ADSL has completely replaced dialup. With everyone downloading at least 50K / second, you can easily send an email 200 KB to 500 KB in size. And who would ever need more than 500 KB?

It's about storage space. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596866)

A single 500KB message is not a problem.

I have over 10,000 messages in my mail box. Now you can see the problem? And I'm just one person. On a network, this can quickly become a major issue.

Think of the problem with 1,000 employees, with 5,000-10,000 messages each at a company.

Not to mention that spammers love this because they can get this past the spam filters very easily.

Re:It's about storage space. (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597074)

I loathe these "web-page" emails. I'm trying to think of a single one of them that's ever been of use to me or gave me pleasure.

If you want me to see a web page, please send me a URL in the email. Give me the choice.

Please.

I'm thinking that there might be enough crap getting sent through email that if people just did the right thing and left the fancy visuals to web pages, we might not have some of the bandwidth issues we're having. Now obviously, video and audio and torrents are the main hogs, but the junk mail can't be helping matters. And I seriously cannot recall a single of these web-page emails that was anything but junk to me.

Re:It's about storage space. (1)

aachrisg (899192) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597450)

10,000 500kb messages (which seems rather extreme) is 5 gb. 5gb of storage costs in the neighborhood of 2 or 3 dollars.

Re:It's about storage space. (3, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597802)

As the other guy said, don't forget to count the number of users. A business network might have anywhere from 100 to 10,000 email users. An ISP with a webmail interface could have millions.

And, yes, some of us still use dial-up. Not everyone lives in a densly-populated area, even in the Western world.

Re:Questions on that. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596786)

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 phone at dog slow speeds, but that should have been fixable somehow by only getting the text/plain version of a message (and those sending text/html only may burn or simply have their HTML and images stripped). Attaching them inline is a much better way, avoids webbugs and tons of crap.

Re:Questions on that. (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597144)

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 where people are working on a document together).

I'm sure other similar (or more capable) systems exist too; maybe even OSS collaboration servers, but I'm not sure of any that are of sufficient quality to really enhance a collaboration the way that the best non-open tools do. I'd be interested to find out that I'm missing out on something good though. :-)

Re:Questions on that. (5, Informative)

oliderid (710055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597098)

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.

Re:Questions on that. (-1, Offtopic)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597330)

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).

You do realise that there is no guaranteed delivery speed for email, right? Its not instant messaging.

An email could take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to arrive; this is completly within the accepted operating parameters of email as a communication system.

You shouldn't assume that email sent at X O'clock will arrive by a certain time, nor should you represent to your client that this can be expected to be the case as it is simply not true.

Guilty. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597382)

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:email designers? (4, Interesting)

Zarel (900479) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:email designers? (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597390)

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.

Re:email designers? (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596364)

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 is supported by the largest number of computers is HTML.

Re:email designers? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597222)

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.
What's the security risk of opening a PDF?

Security reasons? Simply avoid Windows. (1)

leonbrooks (8043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597352)

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 opening the wrong email attachment. "Wrong" here is defined as "looks like a usual one, reads like a usual one... but ain't" rather than anything completely off-the-wall (although those, too are typically virus/spyware farms).

HTML is the least of your worries here; the concept of MS-Word opening attachments & stuff like that is a bit of a nightmare.

Re:email designers? (4, Interesting)

sane? (179855) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:email designers? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:email designers? (1)

smallfeet (609452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596876)

> 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.

/IMHO

Re:email designers? (1)

markhb (11721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597736)

You know what I have observed? The unreal work pays much better than the real work.

Re:email designers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17597466)

I tell you what, you idiots stop sending me crappy HTML or image only emails and I'll consider stopping my bitching. Until then I'm going to feel free to bitch away.

Re:email designers? (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596462)

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 people is still important. You are absolutely correct that the idea is to communicate quickly... and when you have a large number of people getting that message, it's worth it to have somebody responsible to make sure that presentation communicates well.

--
Evan

Re:email designers? (5, Funny)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597134)

But why should the job title "e-mail designer" even exist?

Because it sounds better than "spammer".

Plain text email only (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597260)

I set all my computers to only accept plain text. If I want dancing monkeys in the background then I'll go to Gibraltar.

Re:email designers? (1)

no1nose (993082) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597526)

Agreed. I think email should be plaintext only. If you want people to look at your fancy web pages, send them a link in a plaintext email.

Re:email designers? (1)

rjshields (719665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597672)

Agreed, and if emails with inline images were blocked you'd instantly cut down on a whole avenue of spam.

Email Designers? (1)

Blrfl (46596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596168)

Email designers?

Email designers?

Really?

Letter To All Email Designers (2, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596794)



Dear Sir,

Go Fück Yourself. Your profession is responsible for designing all the corporate spam I receive, therefore you deserve this red-hot poker up your årse

Best wishes
C

Re:Email Designers? (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597422)

Dang, you beat me to it!

Just goes to show you...somewhere, there is probably somebody whose job it is to design the most mundane things you could imagine. Well, I guess I'm off to find the guy whose job it is to design shoelaces!

No Shit? Never Did... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:No Shit? Never Did... (4, Informative)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

Re:No Shit? Never Did... (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597020)

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 of again once it scrolls of slashdot's front page.

Re:No Shit? Never Did... (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597282)

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.

HTML email (2, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596196)

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.

Re:HTML email (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597104)

<tounge-in-cheek>No... instead it'll be vulnerable to Office Exploits.</tongue-in-cheek>

Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596200)

HTML e-mail is blight anyway. I prefer to read e-mail that is formatted like an extremely long instant message, though ideally without the stupid abbreviations. Now this would actually help me if I bothered to use Outlook anywhere but work.

Good Thing (3, Insightful)

kschawel (823163) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Keith

Bad Thing (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Bad Thing (1)

Ziest (143204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596472)

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:Good Thing (1)

Ropati (111673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596456)

I agree

What value does html add to email. If you need html go to the web. If you want to send someone a message use text and send attachments as necessary.

This is a good thing. MS breaking html standards in email will signicantly force most email back to text, and text is much easier to parse for spam. Hell we might end up just blocking all html.

Re:Good Thing (1)

danomac (1032160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596482)

IIRC, Word has more exploits lately... We're seeing a shift from Windows -> Office suite hacking. I don't think it's any better this way.

Re:Good Thing (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

Re:Good Thing (1)

DikSeaCup (767041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596834)

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.

Submitter is on another planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596216)

I'm a staunch web standards supporter and think email should be plain text. It's not a standards issue (certainly not a web standards issue), it's a stupidity issue and Microsoft switching to a word processor control over trident is just the latest glorious example.

Good news? (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596226)

Interesting. I wonder if this marks the beginning of a move away from IE for Microsoft.

Re:Good news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596282)

And now, imagine IE8 dropping all CSS support.

Microsoft 2010: welcome to the future! Our new browser is fully compatible with HTML 3.2!

I think there's a bigger problem. (0, Redundant)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596232)

That'd be that there are "email designers"...
 

Re:I think there's a bigger problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596270)

Well, somebody has to design all those natural penis enhancement e-mails. They don't just design themselves!

Gmail (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Gmail (1)

flabordec (984984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596596)

Just as bad? When was the last time code in your gmail auto-executed and infected your computer? Active content, image backgrounds, JavaScript, etc. are for webpages, not for e-mail.

Before everyone starts saying "text only"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596244)

I only ever send plain text e-mail, and expect the same from human correspondents. However, I also receive notifications from eBay, newsletters from Apple, and so on: in all of those, HTML is quite useful. Since Outlook seems to be the IE of mail clients, having its HTML/CSS support crippled is actually bad news.

"text only" (1)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596622)

If someone thinks I want to see HTML, they can send me a link to the web page in question. HTML email has been a general disaster.

Re:Before everyone starts saying "text only"... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596656)

Well ... then again, major sites such as those you mention are generally pretty application-agnostic in the mails they send. I get formatted emails from Apple, E-Bay, my bank and many others ... and they all render fine in Thunderbird. I suspect this is going to be a non-issue so far as the readability of HTML mail is concerned. What will happen in terms of security for those unfortunate enough to be stuck with Outlook is another question.

Re:Before everyone starts saying "text only"... (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597610)

My email client (not Outlook) is set to render the body of a message as text only. No freaking HTML. eBay sends me notifications, and I read them just fine. HTML email is crap. MS finally did something good for security.

Is this a good thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596254)

Despite all of its problems, IE has been used, abused & exploited for quite a long time. Many of its bugs have been found & fixed. Is the HTML renderer of Word any safer?

Evilplot to kill HTML or plan to improve security? (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596276)

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)

Re:Evilplot to kill HTML or plan to improve securi (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596646)

a nefarious plan to destroy html based email

nefarious? If that's MS's plan then damnit they should be praised! Praised I tell you

Re:Evilplot to kill HTML or plan to improve securi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17597544)

> Wonder if this is more of a solution to improve the security of outlook rather than a nefarious plan to destroy html based email,

But you repeat yourself. (+1, Redundant :)

Destroying HTML email is increasing the security of email clients.

(The proper way to handle HTML email is to cancel the article, then hire a hitman to kill the poster, his wife and kids, and fuck his dog and smash his computer into little bits. Anything more is just extremism.)

If this means (1, Redundant)

WhatDoIKnow (962719) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596278)

it will become harder for others to send me megabyte emails whose only content is a meeting time and date, I'm all for it.

:wq

Re:If this means (1)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596432)

Heck no it's a bad thing - If I'm away from the office I can only pick up meeting invites on a cellular link - if they are 2mb each there's an upper limit on how many I can be invited to!

Re:If this means (1)

agentkhaki (92172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596442)

I'd say it's far more likely you'll end up with even larger garbage email. Besides the added benefit of well-applied CSS making documents way smaller, have you ever seen the absolute garbage HTML output Word has?

Re:If this means (1)

real gumby (11516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596624)

It just means even more losers will send you megabyte emails containing no text -- only an MS Word attachment containing a meeting time and date.

Of course if your office is like mine you already get plenty of those.

Not so smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596340)

At least IE has had a very large amount of field testing to shake out exploits. Word has had some but not nearly as much especally WRT HTML rendering.

Won't someone please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596360)

...think of the Active-X & VB H4x0rs!!!

Several things people are forgetting (1)

agentkhaki (92172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596532)

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 that "email designers" can craft once and send to many different email clients, rather than returning to the 1990's internet, with the mess of browser-sniffing and crafting the same page multiple ways to please the various browsers).

Re:Several things people are forgetting (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596954)

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. Anyhow, from what I can tell this won't stop people from creating formatted e-mail, just those trying to pump a whole website into a single e-mail.

An end of an era? (1)

linebackn (131821) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596542)

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 (besides at the time MS was giving the upgrade away for "free"). Which, of course created one hell of a mess considering we are talking about IE 4.

It is my opinion that an OS bundle should never include a full blown web browser as a mandatory component. With how popular HTML is, it does make sense to include a minimal HTML renderer - one that does not change when the users regular browser changes or is upgraded. I suspect this is what MS is trying to ward off if this is true. With the current versions of Outlook the behavior of its HTML files changes depending on the version of IE installed. Using a separate renderer fixes this. Also since a minimal renderer would not have to implement the ability to render web quirks it could be smaller and easier to audit and keep secure.

Anyway if this is true, this might be a good move. But let's not let Word become part of the OS now, OK?

See if I care (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596568)

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.

Drop In HTML Render Engine dll (1)

pboyd2004 (860767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596572)

So let's see on my system IE has a dll to render HTML, Firefox renders HTML, and Word/Rest of Office render's HTML. Doesn't this kinda defeat the purpose of dll's?

If only the antitrust people had actually been tech savy. Then maybe Microsoft would have been required to have an HTML rendering engine capable of being replaced. This has two major benefits:

1. IE/Firefox/Outlook? Doesn't matter it's just the GUI at that point.
2. Security. If I find a bug in how Windows handles this kind of HTML then there only needs to be one fix. But now it might affect IE, Word, and who knows how many other HTML rendering engines Microsoft has lying around in Windows. And all of them would have to be patched... that's a lot more code churn and makes it a lot more likely that a bug gets patched in one place but not the other 50.

HTML blocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17596642)

I've been blocking HTML email from my domain for years.
When I need to create HTML or a template HTML, it is lovingly hand crafted with vi.

It doesn't get emailed and certainly doesn't include images.

Ja, I am an anonymous coward and my users hate me.

Fortunately, Word is also bad at rendering Word! (4, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596676)

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...

Re:Fortunately, Word is also bad at rendering Word (1)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596804)

Thanks for this anecdote! This is the best proof that Word is NOT a document-exchange format.

Re:Fortunately, Word is also bad at rendering Word (2, Interesting)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597018)

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 are opening a document. What a terrible, terrible idea.

Re:Fortunately, Word is also bad at rendering Word (5, Funny)

stoneguy (324887) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

HTML email... blech (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596772)

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.

The summory is wrong(again!) (5, Informative)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

 

Re:The summory is wrong(again!) (1)

na641 (964251) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597056)

To add on this, i wonder if anyone here is using Office 2007? I am and html emails are displayed just fine, css and all. The one thing i hate about /. is the prejudice shown towards MS. This article's discussion is a particularly nice example of /.'s unwarranted hate of ms. Truthiness indeed.

What the fuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17597258)

How in the fuck did you manage to misspell "summary" twice, each time with a different spelling? You must be special.

Re:The summory is wrong(again!) (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597432)

Excellent. As we can see here, it is unbelievably poor support.

Thanks for posting the link though, it is very helpful.

Re:The summory is wrong(again!) (1)

sfurious (111612) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597702)

but nobody is going to blame microsoft for not supporting onClick in emails

No, but I'll blame them for supporting Javascript in emails to any extent.

Isn't that what they want (1)

bobbonomo (997543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596836)

Isn't that what MS wants? To hijack the standards (any) and make their own the de facto one? Since the mid to late 80's.

Email-Design = Applied Stupidity! (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596842)

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.

Re:Email-Design = Applied Stupidity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17597000)

What about HTML for hyperlinks? Isn't it nice to be able to put a clickable link in rather than forcing the recipient to copy and past a URL you wish to send them?

Re:Email-Design = Applied Stupidity! (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597362)

My GUI MUA [mozilla.com] automatically detects URLs and makes them clickable anyway, even in plain text.

Word isn't ... (2, Insightful)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17596912)

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)

Don't care because... (1, Redundant)

eagl (86459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597376)

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.

A message from eBay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17597404)

Whew! No changes for us at least!

Regards,
-Useless Twerp
eBay.com

Oh, great... (1, Insightful)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597416)

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.

This is fallout from the anti-trust (1)

the Gray Mouser (1013773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597564)

People were upset that Microsoft was bundling Internet Explorer too deeply in the OS.

Now, they've found a way to sever one of their products, MS Office, away from IE, at least for this purpose, so Internet Explorer is no longer required for Office users to render email.

I would think Slashdotters would consider this a Good Thing(tm).

I'm torn here (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597602)

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 definition, are not SPAM, because I opted to receive them, and they will stop sending them to me if I ask. How do we reconcile the two conflicting goals? I don't know.

Never could use CSS in email (1)

H310iSe (249662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17597742)

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 forget but I think AOL was the real kicker, possibly hotmail as well.

2) HTML email is a necessary evil, and at this point, I'd be happy if I could just ditch plain text alltogether. I'm advertising for nightclubs, plain text emails just don't appeal to people as much as pretty pictures. Yes, geeks are fine with text, but the rest of the non-geek world out there responds a hell of a lot better to pics.
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