While Microsoft has said a lot of Windows 8, it has revealed very little about its almost equally important software partner, Office 15. In in a post on the Building Windows 8 blog today, Windows boss Steve Sinofsky disclosed a vital bit of information about Windows on ARM (WOA), the version that will run on ARM, rather than Intel 86, processors and is especially important for tablets:
“WOA includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. These new Office applications, codenamed “Office 15”, have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption, while also being fully-featured for consumers and providing complete document compatibility. WOA supports the Windows desktop experience including File Explorer, Internet Explorer 10 for the desktop, and most other intrinsic Windows desktop features—which have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption.”
I don’t know how much to read into this but there is one critical application missing from the list: Outlook. Sinofsky says the Windows 8 Metro mail app will support Exchange Active Sync (EAS) for mail, contacts, and calendaring. But supporting EAS does not necessarily mean the full Exchange policy support that enterprises want to see. Android phones, for example, can connect to Exchange servers for mail, but do not natively provide full Exchange support (some OEMs have tweaked Android to do this, and there are third-party solutions.)
I think Enterprise adoption is going to be key to the success of Windows 8 tablets, so this is a big deal. On the other hand, porting Outlook as it currently exists to ARM is a non-starter. Outlook is a notorious resource hog and ARM programs are going to have to be resource sippers because of the relatively limited processing and memory power available on tablets. And Outlook’s massive databases would swamp the storage available on a tablet.
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to elaborate on Sinofsky’s blog, so I guess we’ll have to wait a while longer to find out.