I knew about this happening a while back but pretended that if I just ignored it for a while, it would go away. Needless to say, it didn’t. With the release of Outlook 2007, Microsoft has decided to change the rules on html-formatted emails again and while it wouldn’t affect most people, it has become a thorn in the side of designers everywhere. The reason for this issue is that Microsoft decided to use the Microsoft Word HTML rendering engine where previous versions relied on Internet Explorer’s. And while I don’t think anyone could say that IE is a superior browser with a straight face, it was worlds better than Word’s.
With my company, ERA404, our quarterly newsletter fell to pieces as it relied quite heavily on <div> background images. Our original design, found in the ERA404 Newsletter archive (link below), is entirely illegible in Outlook 2007. The new version removed some of the limitations of the new rendering engine. Sadly, most people wouldn’t have noticed because Outlook 2007 isn’t heavily adopted yet. However, with the hope of staying ahead of the curve, we decided to redesign the newsletter for the small percent of readers who have made the unfortunate leap.
If you’re subscribed and are unable to read the newsletter, try the online version, which uses Internet Explorer‘s rendering engine or request this newsletter resent as Text-Only. Incidentally, here’s a handy widget for testing how the new rendering engine destroys code in Adobe Dreamweaver. Previous newsletters can be found at: http://www.era404.com/lists/.