If support for web standards in browsers is improving slowly, then support in email clients is moving at a glacial pace. Attempts to document things like CSS support in the major email clients have revealed a depressing state of affairs, but with recent desktop clients like Thunderbird now sitting on solid rendering engines, things have been looking up.
All that changed when Microsoft dropped a lump of coal into every web developer’s stocking with the end-of-year release to business customers, and the upcoming consumer release, of Outlook 2007.
At the risk of turning this newsletter into a biweekly Microsoft bash, Redmond has done it again. While the IE team was soothing the tortured souls of web developers everywhere with the new, more compliant Internet Explorer 7, the Office team pulled a fast one, ripping out the IE-based rendering engine that Outlook has always used for email, and replacing it with … drum roll please … Microsoft Word.
That’s right. Instead of taking advantage of Internet Explorer 7, Outlook 2007 uses the very limited support for HTML and CSS that is built into Word 2007 to display HTML email messages.