Outlook 2011 ‘will use Webkit not Word to Render HTML’

Developers at Microsoft last night let slip that the new version of Microsoft Outlook, Outlook 2011, will use the Webkit engine to render HTML emails. Webkit is developed by Apple and is used in Chrome, Safari and on the iPhone email client.

Over the last five years Outlook 2007 and 2010 have long caused rendering issues and coding challenges for email marketers, as they have used the less able Word engine to render HTML. As a result background images, the majority of CSS/XHTML and animated gifs have not been supported.

Whilst the news is not confirmed via official channels, if true it represents a significant improvement in rendering for both users of the Office suite and email marketers as a whole – currently the limitations of Outlook are holding back developments in coding across all html email, and webkit support would be a significant step towards more accessible CSS/XHTML code, and enabling newer technologies such as HTML5.

Image via 9-5 Mac

From 9to5 Mac:

A little tidbit from the Microsoft gathering this evening.  While demonstrating Outlook for Mac and the HTML rendering engine, Microsoft employees revealed that instead of using the Word HTML rendering that previous versions of Mac Office used (and the PC version as well), Microsoft has moved over to Apple’s Webkit rendering engine to render HTML mails.  Outlook 2011 also uses WebKit to create HTML mail.

For those of you who didn’t like Entourage’s HTML mail, Outlook’s WebKit mail, you are in for a pleasant surprise.

Why is this a big deal?  This is the first time that Microsoft has used Apple’s open source Webkit framework in their products.  It will be interesting to see if Webkit spreads to other areas.

See also:
Email Standards Blog Post

By Elliot Ross

Elliot Ross is Managing Director of Action Rocket, an email marketing creative agency based in London. You can find him on Twitter at @iamelliot

  • bondi

    I just bought mac 2011 office and Outlook wont display all my old emails with their attachments, just a blue box with a question mark, any ideas on how to fix? ta

  • bondi

    I just bought mac 2011 office and Outlook wont display all my old emails with their attachments, just a blue box with a question mark, any ideas on how to fix? ta