Microsoft had published a pair of articles describing the support for HTML and CSS in Outlook 2007, and the news wasn’t good:
"Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 uses the HTML parsing and rendering engine from Microsoft Office Word 2007 to display HTML message bodies. The same HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS) support available in Word 2007 is available in Outlook 2007. "
The limitations imposed by Word 2007 are described in detail in the article, but here are a few highlights:
- no support for background images (HTML or CSS)
- no support for forms
- no support for Flash, or other plugins
- no support for CSS floats
- no support for replacing bullets with images in unordered lists
- no support for CSS positioning
- no support for animated GIFs
In short, unless your HTML emails are very, very simple, you’re going to run into problems with Outlook 2007, and in most cases the only solution to those problems will be to reduce the complexity of your HTML email design to accommodate Outlook’s limited feature set.
With the release of Outlook 2007, Microsoft is effectively adding an entirely new rendering engine to the mix—one that designers producing HTML email will not be able to ignore.
Not only that, but this new rendering engine isn’t any better than that which Outlook previously used—indeed, it’s far worse. With this release, Outlook drops from being one of the best clients for HTML email support to the level of Lotus Notes and Eudora.
As from now on, you’ll want to use Microsoft’s handy-dandy tool to tell you which parts of your lean, mean HTML emails need to be replaced with old-fashioned HTML sludge.