We’re thrilled to announce that Microsoft’s latest desktop version of its popular email client—Outlook 2019—is now available for testing in Litmus Email Previews.
Microsoft Outlook is comprised of several versions of the email client. Collectively, those clients rank #4 in email client market share, with 9% of all email subscribers opening their emails in some version of Outlook. The latest version, Outlook 2019, is an update to the desktop edition that is bundled with Microsoft Office. Although Outlook 2019 is a new release, it should be noted that it largely implements some of the features that have been in use in Office 365 subscriptions.
Does your email look great in Outlook 2019?
Preview your email and catch costly errors before you send with Email Previews for Outlook 2019, now available in Litmus.
The good news for email marketers is that Outlook 2019 doesn’t come with any major surprises. The major rendering changes are actually great for email marketers. We’ll let Rebecca Lawler, Program Manager on the Outlook Consumer team at Microsoft, sum things up:
This month, we’re happy to bring improvements to Outlook 2019 that benefit both end users and the email marketing community, like better fallbacks when using web fonts and SVG support.
Rebecca Lawler, Outlook Consumer Program Manger
Here’s what we found while looking at the latest version of Microsoft Outlook.
When it comes to the inbox, the message view of Outlook 2019 is comparable to previous versions.
Emojis are displayed in subject lines, but use Microsoft’s proprietary icons, which are blue, outlined illustrations as opposed to the rich, full-color emojis most of us are familiar with. Preview text is supported, which allows email marketers to provide additional context for subscribers and get the all-important email open. And while the length of subject lines, preview text, and the email preview pane itself are variable depending on the width of the device screen, you can plan for around 20-30 characters for your initial inbox message.
The most notable features for email marketers are the Focused Inbox and Read Aloud, both of which have been available in other versions of Outlook, but are new to Outlook 2019 desktop.
A More Organized Inbox Experience with Focused Inbox
Focused Inbox—which has been available for Office 365 users—provides automatic sorting of messages, filtering out less important ones into their own folder in the inbox. Focused Inbox highly favors personal messages or messages from senders subscribers have previously interacted with.
Although Focused Inbox can initially be scary, email marketers shouldn’t worry too much. Just like with Gmail’s Promo Tab, getting left out of Focused Inbox isn’t the same thing as being marked as spam. It’s just a useful way for users to maintain their focus on specific emails.
Improved Accessibility with Read Aloud
Read Aloud is a feature that does exactly that: It reads text from an email out loud to the user. It relies on Microsoft’s built-in text-to-speech (TTS) engine and can be enabled via a button in Outlook’s application ribbon.
Again, this feature has been available for Office 365 users, but could see wider use with Outlook 2019 adoption. If you’re not already, you should be using semantic markup and adding the role=”presentation” attribute to your HTML tables, both of which will help features like Read Aloud understand and read the content of your emails. It’s features like Read Aloud that should be driving you to keep your emails accessible.
HTML and CSS Support
The rendering of HTML and CSS in Outlook 2019 remains largely unchanged. Although it still relies on Microsoft Word to render HTML emails, most of the bugs and techniques required to deal with Word’s rendering are known and well-documented. At this point, email marketers should be familiar with and able to deal with any major problems Outlook throws their way.
*For unknown senders **Using VML ***On some elements
CSS styles are supported both embedded or inline on elements and developers can target elements any way they want, whether it’s using attribute selectors, classes, or IDs.
Although the lack of media queries, animated GIFs, HTML5 video, web fonts, and more advanced CSS—like interactivity and animations—is unfortunate, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the email world. The same goes for images being disabled by default for unknown senders and the lack of styled alternative text support (although ALT text is supported).
Times New Roman No Longer Outlook’s Default Fallback Font
One wonderful update is a fix for the Times New Roman web font problem. In previous versions, Outlook would default to Times New Roman, no matter which fallback font you had in place. A true nightmare for designers with a heart for typography.
A win for email geeks and lovers of typography: Outlook 2019 no longer defaults to Times New Roman as a
In Outlook 2019, you no longer need special hacks to keep your fallback fonts on brand. Web fonts properly display fallback fonts in the CSS font stack instead of defaulting to Times New Roman. While developers should still include fixes for users of older Outlook versions, less-savvy email marketers who don’t implement a code-based solution to the problem will start seeing nicer-looking emails in Outlook 2019.
New in Outlook 2019: SVG Support
SVG, Scalable Vector Graphics, is an image format for vector graphics. Unlike JPG, PNG, and GIF format images, SVG images are just plain text documents that describe the lines, shapes, and colors that make up the image.
Designers like SVGs because they are resolution independent. They look sharp on any screen, while at the same time keeping file sizes low. In theory, that would make it a great image file format for email. However, support has traditionally been limited to Apple Mail and iOS Mail. With Outlook 2019, another key email client adds support for SVG, making it a more viable option for high-quality images in email, while keeping file sizes and loading times low.
Making Outlook Better With the Litmus-Microsoft Partnership—and Your Help
We all know that complex products at large companies can’t change overnight, but we’re thrilled to see Microsoft continue to make improvements to Outlook. Beyond the latest fixes to web font fallbacks and SVG support in Outlook 2019, they’ve fixed media query support for Outlook mobile apps, added support for background images on Outlook.com, and even added animated GIF support on Windows 10 Mail—a long requested feature. Those fixes are a direct result of feedback from the email community as part of the partnership between Litmus and Microsoft.
More improvements are coming, too, so email marketers should look forward to future versions of Outlook.
At Microsoft, we’re excited to keep partnering with Litmus. We’re always listening and looking for ways improve.
Rebecca Lawler, Outlook Consumer Program Manger
To learn more about how we’ve been working with Microsoft, head over to our partnership site, which has more information about what’s changed since the partnership was announced, and—more importantly—how to get involved.
Enable Outlook 2019 Email Previews in Litmus
Outlook 2019 is just one of dozens of popular email clients available in Litmus. To streamline your testing, you can enable only the email clients you need to check. To add Outlook 2019 to your default clients, head over to the account settings in your Litmus account and choose “configure clients”.
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