(Note to self: this post won’t make me popular… oh, well). The last thing I can be called is an Outlook-fanboy. I broke out of Outlook-prison long ago and never looked back, have consistently spoke up against how Microsoft abuses their users, but this time all I can say is the “Fix Outlook” debate is blown out of proportion.
Yes, I also joined the tweet campaign, but only for fun to see my mug flash up for a few minutes.
It’s more fun to watch live, click through and wait a few seconds to see the flow.
At heart of the debate is Microsoft’s decision to stick to Word as the rendering engine for email in Outlook. Net result: broken email that just does not display properly.
Microsoft’s gravy train is the corporate market, and in that is very much an Outlook to Outlook world: Word-generated, Outlook-sent email gets opened in Outlook, rendered by Word, nobody complains – yes, a walled garden. Outside this walled garden email html email breaks in Outlook – so what? It’s a free world, and there are better email programs, client based, or the smart choice, online: stop trying to change the Dinosaur, get out of Microsoft-prison!
Now, a quick exercise: whatever email program you use, look at your Inbox. Isn’t it mostly text emails, either plain text or with minimal formatting? Now look at your junk mail folder: what a surprise, it’s full of image-rich html email! That should tell you something: 90%+ of the fancier html email you’re receiving (the type Outlook has trouble displaying properly) is spam – do you really want better looking spam?
Of course Microsoft cites more business reasons to create rich email using the Word engine:
But here’s the problem that the giant proud of providing “rich tools that our Word customers have enjoyed for over 25 years” does not seem to wake up to: these charts don’t belong in an email in the first place.
Discussing a process flow, reviewing sales figures involve interaction: discussion, feedback, changes, revisions to the original document. These cry out for collaborative platforms, like online, shared presentations, spreadsheets, wiki pages, where instead of sending zillions of email copies there is only one master copy, participants can update it collaboratively and there is full tracking of who changed what, where. Email is not dead, but it should be used a lot less.
We’ve come full circle. We have:
- Rich graphical email – mostly spam
- Embedded charts, graphs for business – belongs to collaborative tools, not email
The rest is just text – with some formatting. That’s all email should be. If it’s more, it doesn’t belong in email.
Update: No, Ben is not talking about the same outlook.
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