iMedia Connections group of email all stars had some interesting viewpoints when asked for predictions on how Microsoft Outlook 2007 would affect the email universe.

Miller of Return Path predicted that the overall impact may be small but you run the risk of presenting some key customers with a bad user experience. Her comments:

"Microsoft Outlook enjoys about 75 percent to 80 percent share of the corporate email market, and a significant number of consumers use Outlook to view their Hotmail or other personal accounts as well. If the adoption rate mimics past behavior of about 5 percent to 10 percent over the first year, then the immediate impact in 2007 may be minimal in terms of numbers."

She continued: "However, depending on your business, these early adopters may be some of your most important subscribers. If that is the case, then ignoring the new Outlook 2007 rules and continuing to design with CSS and other advanced HTML may be risky. Even though your messages will render just fine in the majority of subscribe inboxes, you may leave your best customers with a terrible experience or unable to see your emails at all."

Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports argues that in a sense, the debate about Outlook 2007 will benefit the industry by forcing marketers to confront rendering issues. His take on the debate:

"The whole issue of how emails display in different end-user environments was bubbling beneath the surface in recent months. But it has taken the Outlook debate to bring it right out in the open. Because it's Microsoft, because it's Outlook, people are talking about it."

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