Windows RT 8.1 Update Will Bring Full Outlook 2013 Desktop App To RT Tablets

This has long been rumored, but Microsoft just officially announced that Windows RT, its operating system for ARM-based tablets and other small touch-enabled devices, will get Outlook 2013 once the free Windows 8.1 update arrives. Until now, Windows RT featured the desktop versions of Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint, but ever since it launched, business users have been complaining about the lack of Outlook.

As Microsoft’s CFO and CMO of its Windows Division Tami Reller announced at Computex 2013, a recent Morgan Stanley study found that 61% of people shopping for tablets considers “Microsoft Office to be the single most important software feature.” For most of these customers in the business world, Outlook is a central part of that Office experience. While the lackluster sales of Microsoft’s Surface and other RT sales is probably due to more factors than just the lack of Outlook, the fact that it wasn’t available for RT surely didn’t help sales either.

Outlook 2013 RT, Microsoft says, will feature a “streamlined user experience that reduces clutter and makes your content king.” Among the new features – which are also available in the standard Office 2013 version – are inline replies and the ability to use “peeks” to check your calendar or contacts without having to switch tabs.

It’s not clear why it took Microsoft so long to bring Outlook to RT (and why it wasn’t part of the initial launch). RT, of course, does feature its own Mail client, but that application is generally considered to be a poor substitute for Outlook.