Outlook Web App Does NOT Support Background Images
There’s a Storm Brewing for Email Designers
During our first impressions of the Office Web App (OWA), we noted that there didn’t seem to be any support for background images. But knowing Microsoft we had hoped to find some kind of work-around. We tried several sneaky tricks of the trade in an attempt to get something through their parser but what we found was even worse than we had first suspected: OWA seems to strip out all styles, inline and embedded, other than a select few which can be translated into <font> tags. That’s right, no padding, margins, alignment, pseudoclasses, and so on.
At the moment this might not seem like a big deal. Who even uses OWA anyway? But according to Microsoft, this is the future of their Office suite. You might want to start thinking of OWA as Outlook 14. And Outlook 15, 16, 17…
Here’s a list of what we tried…
- BODY and TD with Background Attribute
- BODY, TD, DIV, and P with Background Property
- BODY, TD, DIV, and P Background-Image Property
- Embedded Element Selectors
- Embedded Class Selectors
- Embedded Descendant Selectors
- Embedded Attribute Selectors
- Style block before closing body tag
- Style block nested in conditional statements
- Style block with non-standard attributes
Here’s our basic background images test.
Better Batten Down the Hatches…
We’ve grumbled and moaned about designing for the Outlook series and its finicky Word rendering engine, but those problems were nothing compared to OWA’s blatant disregard for standards. In fact, it’s more than disregard, as they go out of their way to strip almost all styles from the email before rendering it. But this is just the beginning. As more and more people migrate to the new subscription based Office 365, OWA will be impossible to ignore. We’re hoping that we can find some tricks to get basic CSS working, or perhaps convince Microsoft to support basic CSS in the future.
If you’ve found a way to make background images appear in OWA, we’d love to hear about it! There’s even some EOA swag in it for you if you figure it out before we do.
Want to start a crusade like www.fixOutlook.org? Reach out to us and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below… that’s a cause we’d fly our flag for.
Author: Alex Ilhan
Hailing all the way from England, Alex brings his email development expertise along with an endless stream of cups of tea and British cynicism. Follow him on Twitter: @omgitsonlyalex.