Folks who plan to use Outlook on ARM-powered tablets, such as the Windows RT version of the Surface, may be in for a disappointment. The materials Microsoft released this week along with the Consumer Preview of Office 2013 were frustratingly vague about the RT version, saying only that Windows RT tablets would come bundled with a version of Office that included Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
In in response to a direct question on whether Outlook would be available for RT, a Microsoft spokesperson said “we are not sharing more specifics about ARM plans today.”
A lack of Outlook on RT tablets has important implications. Many enterprises rely heavily on Outlook, especially as the front end to Exchange mail and collaboration systems. and the lack of Outlook would eliminate a major competitive advantage for Windows tablets vs. the iPad and other tablets. Users would be stuck with the mail, contacts, and calendar programs built into, and the mail program, at least as it exists in the windows 8 Consumer Preview, is particularly weak. It’s Exchange support is limited and it does not support standard internet mail (IMAP or POP3) accounts at all.
However, as I point out in a post earlier today, Outlook 2013 shares the space and resource hungry architecture of earlier versions and implementing it on an ARM device would be highly problematic. In particular, Outlook’s storage requirements will prove very troublesome on tablets where storage is limited to a few gigabytes.