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New Outlook feature: It freezes up when dealing with tables in emails

From the department of You Had One Job. Good luck expensing that Uber ride

Microsoft's Outlook has been having trouble with emails containing complicated tables.

The problem, according to Microsoft, turned up in the Current Channel version 2206 (build 15330.20196 and higher) and occurs when the email client chokes when dealing with complex tables. An example of Uber receipt emails is given, and the issue can happen when opening, replying or forwarding emails.

As for the culprit, it looks to be connected to the tech giant's word processing software unit, with Microsoft noting that: "The Word Team has implemented a fix." Those fancily formatted emails won't render themselves.

The fix is headed to the beta channel for testing and Microsoft said that a remedy would hit the production channel on August 9's Patch Tuesday.

In the meantime, the only workaround is a revert to a previous version. The company also provided command line steps to persuade Office to go back a build. Naturally, the Administrator context is required, so admins at affected organizations might decide they need to undertake a rollback.

Outlook becoming unresponsive when presented with a complicated table is only the latest example of issues in the email client. In July, Microsoft blamed Windows Indexing for broken Outlook Search results and the software regularly crops up when considering vulnerabilities.

While nicely formatted emails are very popular with marketing types (does Uber really need to give you a table for its line by line itemization?), this latest issue is a reminder of the irritation such things can cause as email readers choke on the formatting.

Although it is Outlook having problems this time around, other email clients can also have difficulty when it comes to rendering correctly. Outlook might be under the spotlight more than usual recently because the application has added new features.

Thankfully a patch is incoming, yet one can't but help wonder if perhaps this latest issue dealing with tables in emails is a hint that maybe it is time to consider a rollback to not just a previous version, but a previous era when plaintext ruled the email roost. ®

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