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The current preview release of Outlook 2010 uses Microsoft Word as the rendering engine for HTML base4d email which only supports a small subset of standards compliant HTML.

The main reasoning from Microsoft is based around using Word as the editor and rendering engine.

Is having HTML email rendered in a standards compliant way important you as an Outlook user, or is this a non issue?

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Forgive my naive viewpoint (not being a web development expert), but wouldn't the world be a better place if ALL HTML rendering engines were Standards Compliant? Is this a hoplessly idealistic and unrealistic dream..? (if anyone thinks that this is a worthwhile question in it's own right, comment to that effect and I'll make it so).

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Of course it should - it would make the job of developers having to translate annoying marketing emails much less time consuming.

But whether it will or not is up to the whim of those at Microsoft, and since they don't need to do it to sell the product, I guess it's only going to happen if one of the developers happens to spends some extra time on it.

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Here's the Outlook team's opinion on it and a quote ...

There is no widely-recognized consensus in the industry about what subset of HTML is appropriate for use in e-mail for interoperability.

Personally, I like Word as the editor. I get familiar interface, ease of use and power and give up very little. Remember, they have to deliver a tool you don't need to know any HTML to use.

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It's not a non-issue.

HTML compliance in email programs is one of the "hidden problems" of HTML compliance. Mass marketers often have headaches handling this because email clients tend to be older and quite a long way behind current browsers. CSS support is often spotty, for instance. This is one reason they often have links that say "If you're having trouble reading this email, follow this link to view it on our web page."

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It is indeed important to some users because they like to embed HTML content in messages they send.

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My Outlook is already slow enough, thank you. No need to include a fully standard compliant rendering engine and bloating it up even more. An HTML subset that handles most cases adequately is enough.

Any rendering issues will affect mostly advertising email. I care more about emails that contain only written text and a few attachments, they ususally give me the information that I need for my work.

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It will no be important for the Outlook user because Outlook is compatible with Outlook. However other mail clients will likely have display issues if the HTML that Word produces is as problematic as it has been in the past.

So if you are an Outlook user that communicates with people that don't use Outlook and you find it important that no part of your mail looks garbled then it should be important to you.

That said perhaps it highlights one of the problems with email and one more reason to move away from it.

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