Outlook 2016 is Coming
That’s right, just when you were getting used to your shiny new Outlook 2013 edition, Microsoft went and announced the development of their Office 2016 model in January of this year. At the time of this blog entry, only the Mac version of Office 2016 has been released under Office 365, but the Windows iteration is expected to follow soon as they have stated that it should become available in the second half of 2015. At this point in time, however, Microsoft does offer a preview build that can be downloaded from their website.
So what does this mean for you? And more to the point, what does this mean for your email designs?
The short answer, as far as we can tell for Windows users, is not a whole lot has changed. Here’s the thing, when Outlook was developed for Mac, it was programmed to use the Webkit rendering engine to display emails. This engine is used to power web browsers such as Apple Safari and Google Chrome as well as Apple Mail (which is why your responsive designs work on iPhone and iPad). Webkit supports quite a bit, the most pertinent being media queries that lead to responsive email design.
Outlook for Windows (2007, 2010 & 2013), on the other hand, uses Microsoft Word to render emails, the source of most all your designing woes. The page breaks due to long email content if you forget to insert buffer tables, extra spaces around images, a lack of support for media queries…all caused by the Word rendering engine.
So what about Outlook 2016 for Windows? If Mac gets Webkit, then surely Windows users will as well, right? Nope, the Windows version of Outlook 2016 will again be equipped with the Word rendering engine. For now, we will continue to use best practices for optimizing in Outlook as we always have an address any potential changes after Outlook 2016 is officially released.