J bug

Microsoft said last week it's fixing the infamous J bug that affected the company's Outlook service for the past seven years, according to a report from last week.

The J bug takes its name from how Outlook handled smiley faces ":)" added to email bodies for the last seven years, replacing the two characters with the letter "J" whenever users were using non-Microsoft products to view emails sent via Outlook.

J email bug technical explanation

The issue at the heart of the J bug was that Outlook used the Word engine to process email content, meaning it would automatically convert ":)" to the "☺" Wingdings character when sending emails.

Once the email reached its destination, the recipient's email client would read the content, find the Wingding character, and print it on screen.

If the recipient's device supported Wingding fonts, the original ":)" characters would show up as the Wingding "☺", and the sender's original smiley would appear as intended, albeit a little bit different.

But if the recipient's device didn't have the Wingdings font installed, the original ":)" would be printed out as capital "J", the homolog of the Wingdings "☺" character in the standard Latin alphabet.

This bug plagued inter-OS email communications for more than seven years, and annoyed users on Apple, Android, and Linux products receiving emails from Windows users.

Microsoft adds emoji support to Outlook

Last week, The Guardian technology reporter Alex Hern noticed for the first time that smiley faces started showing up in emails received from Windows users.

Following Hern's discovery, Microsoft acknowledged it started working on a fix for the J bug in a follow-up with Business Insider.

"We've recently released an update that fixes this," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "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."