New signs point to Microsoft releasing Outlook for Windows RT this year

New signs point to Microsoft releasing Outlook for Windows RT this year

Summary: It's increasing looking like those with ARM-based Windows devices might get the option to put Microsoft's Outlook RT on them, after all.

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Back in January 2013, there was talk that Microsoft was considering releasing a version of its Outlook mail client for Windows RT. It looks like talk is advancing into likelihood.

surfaceRT

According to Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott, Outlook RT is being tested outside of Microsoft now, not just internally as it was a couple of months ago. 

Thurrott also said he heard that Microsoft delayed releasing Outlook RT due to a firmware issue in ARM that was triggering crashes. I had heard scuttlebutt that excessive battery usage might be at fault, but nothing confirmable.

One of my sources said that Outlook RT has turned into a "top enterprise request," so the Office team had decided it should move forward and commercialize the port of Outlook to ARM. (I'm not so sure how many enterprises are really using Windows RT devices at this point, but I've heard Microsoft plans to increase its business-focused marketing push for Surface RTs and other Windows RT devices.)

This same source said all of the Office apps -- not just the core Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- have been ported to ARM already. Once the initial work was done to shift to the ARM compiler, the task of porting the apps to ARM was less arduous, given the fact that huge chunks of each app is shared code. This shared code was developed by the Modern Office Experience (MOX) team and is known as  MSO (Modern Shared Office?), my source said.  MSO supposedly implements huge amounts of shared code for the office apps -- all the file access code, registry access, graphics, interfaces, etc.  (Update: The MOX work has to do with Metro-Style Office, not ARM. At least right now, the Outlook RT app is believed to be a Desktop, not a Metro Style one. My mistake.)

"In short, these (Office) apps have been runable on ARM for a long time," my source claimed.

If it is released commercially, 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. It would likely be positioned as a complement, not a replacement to, the built-in Windows Mail client on Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs. Currently, 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, but Microsoft is working on Metro-Style complements to all four, which it is expected to roll out this fall as part of its Gemini effort.

The Office team is not commenting on Gemini or Outlook RT.

I recently heard from one of my own sources that Outlook RT might be released this fall, possibly in conjunction with the Windows 8.1 (Blue) and/or the Office "Gemini" updates. However, if Microsoft opted to deliver Outlook RT earlier -- maybe as part of an update to the Office 365 consumer and business subscription offerings -- it could even come to market sooner.

As Thurrott noted, the most likely way Outlook RT would probably be rolled out is as a paid subscription offering. And once this happens -- again, if/when it does -- the road for Microsoft to roll out some kind of an Office for iPad via a similar subscription model should be cleared (at least to some degree). Microsoft would still have to come to some kind of agreement with Apple over exactly how this would be sold if any code is to be made available via Apple's App Store. 

Previous leaks about Office for iPad have pointed to Microsoft releasing only Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps for iOS; Outlook hasn't been mentioned (to date.) If Outlook is to be delivered for iPad someday, one would assume Microsoft wouldn't want to deliver it on the iPad before it delivers it on RT. That would be counter to Microsoft's usual position of "first and best on Windows." But it's a new Microsoft these days, so never say never....

Topics: Unified Comms, Microsoft, Tablets, ARM, PCs, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8

About

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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30 comments
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  • While they're at it...

    ... they need to change their mind on the lack of domain support on Windows RT as well. Without that, it's not going to work for a ton of businesses. I'm aware of InTune, but that software isn't universally out there. Domain join would make it much easier to integrate.
    JHoff80
    • It solves no practicle purpose while we have PRO

      to make RT join a domain there will go lot of development into it again..making it a heavy system again and since it does not run legacy apps anyway its better the way it is. Intune provides an easy integration with configuration manager 2012 and that results into a single solution to manager both domain joined pro devices and also the RT devices.

      the considerations for customer are also easy this way. those who want to manage RT they know what solution they need without heavy infrastructure changes
      dugbug11
      • Sure it does...

        How about just the fact that InTune costs additional money that a company might not want to pay? Pretty much every (Windows-based) medium sized business and larger already has a Active Directory server. The fact that it can't run legacy code (which, for the record, it can with a hack), is going to be irrelevant.

        It actually wouldn't take too much development and additional code; most of it is already there. As an example, you can already make Group Policy Client work on Windows RT just by enabling it in Services.

        Sure, if a company is keeping up to date on all of the newest Microsoft software, they might already have InTune and it's a great solution. However, for companies that don't have InTune, many might not want to lay out the addition expense. So in the real world connecting to a domain (again, the setup that companies usually already have for all of their other PCs) is still going to be important for a while.
        JHoff80
        • check the new licensing model

          the per user licensing model gives freedom to install ConfigMgr or Intune or maybe both. you can manager up to a given number of devices for a user by using the seamless solution. so in any case an organization need a management solution and it's there at no separate cost for intune
          dugbug11
          • check this out

            http://www.zdnet.com/windows-intune-wave-d-tooled-up-for-byod-7000012157/
            dugbug11
      • Actually...

        ...there is little development cost to add AD support for RT, just port over the Windows 8 Pro code. Actually far easier then porting over Outlook.
        Rann Xeroxx
    • Domain Join would probably cut battery life

      Think about all the domain goop that needs to be running in the background. The whole Windows RT philosophy is to use the battery as parsimoniously as possible.

      Being able to manage the device centrally is more important than being having uses get at domain resources. That's why the InTune solution exists the way it is (as far as I can tell)
      Flydog57
  • Outlook RT on Surface will be great.

    Enterprise customers require something more powerful than the current mail client.
    Owllll1net
    • It is obviously

      A sign that Windows RT is not selling (like we didn’t know already) and they are trying to add anything that may make a difference.

      Enterprise customers should stick with the Surface Pro anyway (if they wanted to go with the tiles mad interface). Let’s not forget they probably have a number of associated applications they will need to run on an x86 platform and those cannot be recompiled for various reasons.

      (Did I just say, people should use Surface Pro? Oh well, if they need/want it why not).
      mil7
    • sure

      All 3 of them will be ecstatic....
      mjf2112
  • New signs point to Microsoft releasing Outlook for Windows RT this year

    A much wanted feature coming to Microsoft Windows RT. I know a lot of people who will be installing it the minute it becomes available. Rumors of Windows RT's death have been exaggerated.
    Loverock-Davidson
    • Loverock-Davidson...does Microsoft include a pair of sun glasses

      so the user dosen't experence eye strain from all the Metro tiles that never stop flasing?

      As you said "The Rumors of Windows RT's death have been UNDER exaggerated at this point.

      How long before the funeral is held for Surface RT?
      Over and Out
      • Again

        To turn off the 'flashing' of the tile, you touch it, then touch 'Turn live tile off'. Is that too difficult for you to understand?

        Stick to your iLife, bud. That's about all your level of intelligence can handle.
        coppersloane
      • No flashing tiles yet....

        I keep staring at them waiting for them to flash. Is there an app that makes them flash? Or are you having seizures? Quick!!! someone get him help!!!
        mrefuman
  • No More Desktop Apps on RT!

    Surface RT (and the other RT devices) are TOUCH-FIRST computing devices and DO NOT need another (or any) "Desktop" applications.

    It is simply unbelievable to watch the Office division continue in this direction and not put the efforts into a "Modern" flavor of Office.

    By refusing to admit that the "touch-first" experience IS NOT compatible with the old Windows "desktop" universe, Microsoft is losing precious time that could have been used to remain relevant in the tablet computing world.
    TheCyberKnight
    • I completely agree

      What Windows RT needs is a very good touch oriented mail/calendar/contacts solution, not a port of non-touch Outlook.
      Flydog57
    • This argument goes both ways

      And that is what annoys me about Windows 8, Windows RT etc. They are mixing the paradigms by making our desktops act like tablets and the tablets act like desktops.

      So I am with you on that, they should have some clear/separate/and build from the ground up UI-wise applications (apps) specifically for touch (Metro or otherwise), while keeping the desktop clean of all this touch oriented propaganda.

      Then they would have a chance in the marketplace in competing with the “big players” by using their properly targeted solutions, instead of looking like the "schizophrenic me too type solution" that is going nowhere.
      mil7
  • @MJ...Question for you...

    You posted: "It's worth noting these four apps are Desktop apps, not "Metro-Style"/Windows Store apps, but Microsoft is working on Metro-Style complements to all four, which it is expected to roll out this fall as part of its Gemini effort."

    How would this work? Considering that Office 2013RT is, in a manner of speaking, desktop bound, what happens when the rest of the Office suite are offered in Metro-Style which, I assume, like OneNote would be downloadable from the MS Store? So, does this mean that there would be two versions of Office on a RT machine - one with Office on the desktop and the other with Office as Metro-style apps? Because - assuming that Office Metro-Style has the same functionalities as Office 2013 - would there not be an unnecessary (in my view) duplication? In so far as Outlook RT is concerned, this is certainly good news, if it comes to pass, but I would hesitate to subscribe to it because if subscription is the model, then I'd go with Office 365 (though its benefits as far as I can tell on the RT platform is minimal). Do you have any info that you can share on this? Thanks.
    crystalsoldier
    • How this would work

      Hi. I don't know exactly how this would work. There are already Metro style versions of OneNote and Lync. They use radial menus to make touch easier.

      My bet is the Metro-Style versions of the core Desktop Office apps will be similar (maybe not exactly the same) as the Office Web Apps. Less functionality, but workable.

      Will keep asking around. Stay tuned. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Thanks...

        So, if and when this (MOX) comes to pass and is available from the MS Store, there will be two versions of Office on the RT - like there are two versions of OneNote at present. Right? If possible, could you please ask about that too? Thanks.
        crystalsoldier