Outlook 2013 RT Coming Free to Windows RT 8.1 Tablets Later this Yearby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 5, 2013 3:30 AM EST
Microsoft has been pretty quiet at Computex thus far, but today we got a bit of expected news. Outlook 2013 RT will be coming with the free Windows RT 8.1 update later this year for Windows RT tablets. Not having Outlook was a big gate to Windows RT adoption by many business users, making this a much needed move by Microsoft.
Outlook 2013 RT joins Office 2013 RT as very valuable components of the free software package that comes with all Windows RT tablets. By supplying key desktop applications for free, Microsoft not only increases the value of the platform but also drives users towards the Windows Store and modern UI apps for the rest of their needs as the basics are already met.
Despite the presence of Office 2013 on Windows RT, the ARM based platform hasn’t been embraced with tons of success. Many have blamed the lack of backwards compatibility with existing x86 applications, however I have a slightly different perspective. In my eyes, both Windows RT and Windows 8 suffered from the same issues: the OS was rushed. There was very little integration between modern and desktop UI modes and switching between the two was very jarring. Performance issues and bundled app inflexibility also plagued both OSes. With Windows 8.1, Microsoft seems to be addressing many of these items. If the list stops at what Microsoft has already announced, I suspect Windows 8.1 (and RT 8.1) will be evolutionarily better. If Microsoft can take this opportunity to address bigger problems as well (e.g. fixing high-DPI scaling in desktop mode), then Microsoft has a much bigger opportunity ahead of itself.
Windows 8.1 and RT 8.1 have the benefit of launching side much better hardware. While I complained about the performance of Tegra 3 in Surface RT, this generation we’ll see significantly better performance out of Snapdragon 800 based tablets with 8.1 (likely to also include the 2nd generation Surface RT). On the PC side, we finally have Haswell, which should make the next-gen Surface Pro significantly better (although it may take Broadwell to substantially reduce thickness depending on how aggressive Microsoft chooses to be).
As far as why Microsoft remains committed to Windows RT, I think the reasoning is obvious. PCs (and PC-like products) are under incredible pricing pressure. Microsoft’s only plays are to reduce its margins to remain competitive, or to reduce the cost of other components within the platform. Intel remains the only other big consumer of cost in a modern PC - moving to ARM helps change that. Intel does offer lower cost Atom solutions, but it’s clear at this point that Microsoft feels it needs competition in the market in order to continue to keep prices low. In that regard, ARM really is the new AMD.