I Shake My Fist At You, Microsoft

Rant time.

I work at a Fortune 200 company and like most large enterprises we also use Microsoft Office.  As a business productivity suite I think it's the best out there, no matter what the open source hippies might say, but when it comes to development with these products, I really get my panties in a twist.

Everyone has beat the IE horse to death, so I won't go there, but today I was augmenting a vendor software package to send automated emails out to end-users.  We like to brand our communications, even to our internal customers, so producing quality communication is something we strive for.  In this case it included content with background colors.  The best, standards-compliant way to do this is using HTML to produce these messages.  For those who even have a smidgen of HTML experience, this is a fairly trivial task. In fact, here's something I whipped up in a few seconds:

Some Title Salutation, Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam suscipit elit posuere elit tempus aliquet. Curabitur fermentum magna et mi venenatis quis consequat felis pulvinar. Nullam aliquam mauris non justo fermentum posuere. Integer quam turpis, mollis et molestie adipiscing, condimentum sit amet ipsum. Pellentesque tincidunt, dolor eu pulvinar adipiscing.

This is very straight forward and can be interpreted in any browser and email client and looks pretty darn good (compared to the alternative) EXCEPT in Office 2007. Microsoft decided that instead of using Internet Exploder (another non-standards compliant piece of $#!^) to render the HTML, they would instead use Word to render the HTML, which is far, far worse in what it does/does not support. This means that the nicely formatted message above loses much of the richness that can be accomplished in a standards-compliant HTML renderer in other mail clients.

Why, Microsoft, why???  The web offers us so many opportunities to develop rich content that can be shared across platforms and it's instances like this where you do not endear your developers to remain loyal to your platform.

I shake my fist at you, Microsoft.

Posted on Aug 3
Written by Wayne Hartman