Office workers on Outlook who are of a friendly disposition may have been puzzled when their smilie-laden emails were not reciprocated, and then annoyed when the Reply section clearly shows a pile of J letters has been sent instead.
The issue has been a 7-year-old bug which caused Outlook to automatically convert a : ) into the Wingding symbol for J, which happens to be a smilie, which is fine if you stick to Outlook, but renders as a simply J if your email was to stray to Gmail or another web service.
Microsoft has now finally addressed the issue and has now stopped using Wingding, instead using the now standard language of the Emoji.
The issue was first noticed by Guardian reporter Alex Hern who wrote on Twitter:
GAME CHANGER: Gmail on Chrome now correctly renders the weird Outlook J as a smiley. Pics: Safari vs Chrome pic.twitter.com/rsFEtYyJsh
— Alex Hern (@alexhern) May 15, 2017
Microsoft explains the change as below:
Outlook uses Word as its authoring tool. Previously, we automatically changed “:)” to a smiley face character in the font face WingDings. When that email would show up in another client that doesn’t support Wingdings font, it can’t show that character. So it gets replaced. J is the character in the windings font that is a smile, so that is what was displayed in Gmail, iOS Mail, etc.
We’ve recently released an update that fixes this. Now, we properly represent emojis as true emojis. This means any other email app that recognizes emojis will display the emoji in their app. We have also improved Outlook’s rendering of other email services emojis. We are currently rolling out this feature to customers and should complete in the coming year. As with all feature updates, these updates are available for Office 365 customers.
Office365 users will automatically be updated over the course of the year, but we assume users of older versions of Office will likely keep the J’s going for much longer.