Rather than the awe-inspiring equivalent of a moon landing as Microsoft had hoped, the rollout of Outlook 2007 instead has been greeted by the business community as a giant leap backward for e-marketing.
That’s because Outlook 2007 regularly mangles most higher end image- and animation-dependent marketing e-mails, due to Microsoft’s decision to “dumb down” Outlook’s design and image-rendering capabilities.
“Microsoft has taken e-mail design back five years,” says David Greiner, co-founder of Campaign Monitor, an e-mail tool provider.
The problem’s been further compounded by the rollout of Vista, Microsoft’s new Windows operating system. It has forced consumers and businesses to adopt Outlook 2007 whether they want to or not.
Users’ reception to Vista has been cool. But the system has established a beachhead as the preferred operating system for a significant percentage of users.
Essentially that means most users looking to get the most from Outlook on a Vista system most likely will want to add a Vista-compatible version of Outlook 2007 to their PCs.
For multichannel marketers, the inevitable migration to Vista and Outlook 2007 will translate into e-mails in which much of the imaging and layout simply will be rendered inoperable.
Take nested background colors, for example. These are relied upon extensively in marketing e-mails to set off one part of a message from another. But they can no longer be expected to render properly for all those new users of Outlook 2007. Any background color nested within another element of a message will not render properly.
Ditto for attempting to use advanced programming for simple positioning of images and other elements. Outlook 2007 shreds these design touches as well.
Simple design flourishes, such as standard margins and the padding that’s often used around images and text to give HTML messages a finished look, won’t work either.