Microsoft is testing a native Outlook email client for Windows RT, reports CNET. Currently, Windows RT devices like Microsoft’s own Surface RT ship with a free version of Office that includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. However, Microsoft opted to launch the Surface RT without a functional email client in the desktop UI, reserving it for the Start screen UI only.
According to CNET’s sources, Microsoft may still decide not to proceed with the release of Outlook RT, which would seriously limit the potential for Windows RT devices to make inroads into enterprise. As Microsoft has locked down the desktop mode in Windows RT, no third-party developers will be officialy permitted to fill the void either.
The strategy Microsoft seems to have adopted with its Surface RT is to aim that device at students, or executives looking for the ultimate in mobile productivity, but with a caveat. The Surface Pro, which is due to start shipping in the next week, will be able to run the full Office suite, but won’t have it pre-installed. It is, however, better suited overall for enterprise users. Redmond could decide to continue with this strategy, or opt to unleash Windows RT devices by making Outlook RT available as a free update.
Windows RT devices will not be able to compete with Windows 8 devices in at least the short to medium term, given the limitations of running on ARM-based devices. As they are not backwards compatible with software written for x86, they will always be perceived by some as inherently limited in their functionality.
However, it remains an oddity in Windows RT, that there is currently no way of sharing content from the desktop other than to tuirn to turn to the cloud or use a USB stick – neither of which are as convenient (or fundamental) as being able to share them directly through a native email client from the desktop.