Microsoft said to be testing an Outlook client for Windows RT

Microsoft said to be testing an Outlook client for Windows RT

Summary: Microsoft is believed to have completed a version of Outlook running Windows RT systems. But it's not clear if or when this ever will come to market.


File this one in the "sources said" folder. But I've now heard from three of my contacts that Microsoft has completed and is testing internally a version of Outlook that runs on Windows RT-based devices.


This "Outlook RT" would run on Microsoft's ARM-based Surface RT devices, as well as any/all other ARM-based Windows RT tablets and PCs. 

Here's the catch, though: According to two of these three sources, when/whether Microsoft will make Outlook RT commercially available is not yet decided. This might not ever happen, these sources stressed.

Again, according to these sources, there's supposedly some internal back-and-forth between different teams as to whether Microsoft should or shouldn't release Outlook RT.

Microsoft currently has its own Mail client for Windows 8 and Windows RT -- a product that is not seen as very robust or solid by many of us Surface RT/Windows RT users. The Windows RT Mail client is not even as good as the Mail client that's part of Windows Phone, many of us feel.

Quite a few of us would rather have the option to run Outlook on our Surface RTs and other Windows RT devices. But for now, Microsoft doesn't include Outlook as part of the Office Home & Student 2013 RT suite that it bundles with the Windows RT operating system. Only Word RT, Excel RT, PowerPoint RT and OneNote RT are included. (It's worth noting these four apps are Desktop apps, not "Metro-Style"/Windows Store apps. There are only two members of the Office suite that currently exist in Metro-Style form: OneNote and Lync.)

A quick aside: Microsoft officials have not said the company plans to bundle any kind of version of Office with the coming Surface Pro devices. But there has been scuttlebutt on Twitter that Microsoft could make some kind of trialware/offer for Office 365 Home Premium available for Windows 8 systems, including Surface Pros.

I, myself, would gladly pay for Outlook RT if I could buy it. If it isn't a Metro-Style/Windows Store app, though -- and I don't know whether it is or isn't -- I'm not sure how Microsoft would make it available to us Windows RT users. Maybe as part of an overall refresh of the Mail/Calendar/Messaging set of apps or a refresh of the Office RT suite? (Update: Another option, as @Shmuelie notes in the comments below, would be simply via Windows Update.)

Distribution isn't the only open-ended question here. Supposedly there is  disagreement in the Microsoft ranks regarding whether it would be in the company's best interest to do this.

One contact of mine said that there are some inside Redmond (the Windows unit) favoring the preservation of the integrated Windows 8/Windows RT Mail/Calendar/People app bundle as is. Some people in this camp are said to favor renaming the existing Windows 8/Windows RT Mail app to "Outlook." (Given we already have three different Outlooks -- the current Office Outlook, Outlook on Windows Phone (if you have your built-in email set up to display Outlook and/or or  and -- I'm really hoping this won't happen. Which probably means it will.)

Supposedly others (in the Office division) are bucking to release the "real" Outlook for Windows RT as a separate, native application.

It will be interesting and telling to see which way Microsoft goes on this one. I think having the real Outlook natively available on Surface RT and Windows RT could boost the appeal of those platforms. But maybe Microsoft would rather hold back Outlook as something only available on Windows RT to those willing to pay monthly/annually for an Office 365 Home Premium subscription?

I asked the Office team for comment on this and was told by a spokesperson there was nothing further to say beyond the fact that Office Home & Student 2013 RT does not include Outlook. The spokesperson added “Microsoft Office doesn't come with Surface 8 Pro but can be purchased separately.”

Topics: Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Drop the Mail client for Metro Outlook!

    I would love an Outlook client with all of the same features that would replace the metro Mail client that comes standard on Windows 8. Its the primary thing that is missing from Windows RT that would convert a lot of my coworkers from iPad and Android tablets.
    • I want to keep my Pop 3 e mail so I want Outlook

      I agree. I use POP 3 e mail and I intend to continue to do so. This forwarding e mail and calendar stuff through my live account can be confusing and glitch. I am thinking of selling my Surface Rt and getting a full Win 8 tablet and this is one of the key reasons.
      • rt and exchange

        The Peoples App, the Mail app and the calendar app all sync with exchange (in fact multiple exchange accounts - something that outlook cannot do). The apps also sync to others services like Facebook, twitter and linked in). There is no equivalent tasks app.

        I would be delighted if they introduce outlook RT. I would not stop using the metro Mail app, but I would use both of them. As the desktop does not recognise the Metro Mail app there is a great big hole in the desktop (which I believe was deliberately left there) that is waiting to be filled by outlook.
        • Multiple Exchange accounts

          FYI Jeff, Outlook has supported multiple Exchange mailboxes in the same profile since Outlook 2010.
    • I should have looked at that

      You mean RT has no exchange support for contacts, cal and tasks??!! Tell me MS didn't screw that up? That would be a dumb as not putting copy/paste on the seventh iteration of WM.
      • nope

        No exchange support for RT. That's one of the reasons in getting Pro.

          So how is it that I'm sitting here on my Surface for Windows RT loaded with contacts, calendar, & email from my employer's Exchange Servers (2010), sending email to others & reviewing my schedule for next week. WINDOWS RT VERY MUCH SUPPORTS EXCHANGE-BASED PIM SYNC - Exchange ActiveSync 14, 14.1 for certain. I don't know about previous revisions but I suspect it works at least to 2007.
        • The standard mail

          App on Windows 8 / Windows RT does indeed support activesync and by definition it supports connectivity to Exchange, for mail, calendar and contacts.
  • Some thoughts

    1) The update wouldn't be able to be send through the Windows store since I bet it can only update "Metro" apps. It would most likely either be a download or part of Windows Update

    2) I agree that long term the Mail app should win since its better than Outlook is for tablets (assuming that Outlook RT will just be a desktop app). But short term why not just do what we assume they plan to do with the rest of office? give desktop app till the mail app is good enough

    3) Outlook on WP?
    • Good points

      Right! They could deliver this via Win Update. Good one!

      And yes, I confused Office on WP with Outlook on WP. I have my account set up on my WP so it just looks like I have Outlook. See what I mean about too many Outlooks!? :)

      Mary Jo Foley
    • RE: Some thoughts

      Shmuelie wrote:
      "I agree that long term the Mail app should win since its better than Outlook is for tablets

      Microsoft should make Outlook a Modern UI app in Windows RT. This way, Microsoft can charge users an amount for Outlook that automatically upgrades Office RT to a business-class office suite.

      And if Microsoft also wants Outlook to be a desktop app in Windows RT, they can deliver it through Win Update for those systems where the Modern UI Outlook app has been installed.

      In short, this would provide users with a simple mechanism to upgrade Office RT for business use.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Real Outlook for Windows RT, please!

    I would love to have the real Outlook for Windows RT on my Surface! Even if it is in a Metro version...

    Please, Microsoft, make it happen!
  • So if it works for RT devices

    Shouldn't it also work for Windows 8? Or is it meant to run in desktop mode (and thus won't matter)?
    Michael Kelly
  • Best case, worst case scenarios...

    Best case: Outlook for RT is released as a "real" Outlook app but it runs in the WinRT/Metro/whatever environment. It becomes a showcase for what can be done in the WinRT environment (for both Windows and Windows RT).

    Worst case: Outlook for RT is released, but it's a desktop app, and it's availability somehow causes confusion/delays/etc. in getting a decent WinRT/Metro mail app released.

    Neutral case: Outlook for RT is just an ARM port of straight up (desktop) Outlook and most people just ignore it (personally, I have zero interest in a non-Metro mail app for my Surface).
    • This

      Yes yes yes.
    • In case you are still looking,

      check out the beta version of TouchDown from NitroDesk.
    • Desktop outlook ...

      ... Offers a poor touch experience. I'd MUCH rather see Microsoft set the high bar and showcase what a business Metro app should look like.
      • Exactly

        The current metro mail app isn't bad, its actually really good for touch. Its just missing a lot of functionality.

        A truly Metro Outlook would be awesome.
  • YES for Outlook RT

    Totally agree with Mary Jo, I'm not a big fan of the Mail app in RT either...
    Lou Syracuse
  • I think this will run in the Desktop mode

    if Microsoft releases one just like other Office RT apps. of course I know they have OneNote with Modern/metro Interface but I don't think Outlook RT will be like OneNote MX. If it is then Microsoft would either replace Mail App with Outlook MX. I am just guessing. I like few features of current Mail App, but not a big fan of it. I want drag and drop in Mail App, which also provides, I just wonder why can't Mail App.
    Ram U