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Microsoft waves white flag: We'll put Outlook on Windows RT slabs

Now we're cooking on gas, IT bosses sigh

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An update to Microsoft's tablet OS Windows RT will finally add email client Outlook to fondleslabs.

The news was announced by Windows chief financial and marketing officer Tami Reller during the Computex keynote in Taipei - along with more details of Windows 8.1.

Windows RT is said to be a straight-up ARM-compatible processor port of Windows 8, which means they will get updates simultaneously this year, but it's the addition of Outlook that will please slab fondlers most. The free upgrade, dubbed Windows 8.1, which will include the email client for RT, is due sometime in 2013, according to Redmond.

Windows RT runs on ARM-powered slabs, rather those packing Intel chips. Apps therefore have to be recompiled for RT, but they also have to be approved by Microsoft and distributed through the Windows Store, as Microsoft seeks to ape the Apple approach to device management.

That limitation put off many customers, but businesses who may have found that model attractive - and were seduced by the bundling of Office with RT slabs - were instead put off by RT's horribly limited Mail client, and its calendar and People address-book apps.

"We're always listening to our customers," says the blog posting from the Office team, "and one piece of feedback was that people want the power of Outlook on all their Windows PCs and tablets."

Perhaps more important was the realisation that customers want it, but don't want to spend more money on it.

Outlook was spotted running on RT back in January, but at that time it could have been just a test to see it if were possible. RT's bundled apps were given a respray in March, but that did little to stem the criticism. So now they'll be replaced with a proper version of Outlook on Windows RT devices.

Combined with the free keyboard/cover (one month only) the Surface becomes a much better buy than it was a week ago, even if it remains an expensive option. ®

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