Feeds

back to article Microsoft may be readying Outlook for ARM – or not

Sources say Microsoft is testing a version of Outlook for Windows RT, the flavor of Windows that runs on Redmond's ARM-based Surface RT tablets, but whether it will ever see the light of day is another matter. Well-connected Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley reports that no less than three of her insider contacts have confirmed …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge
Windows

Will they go all the way then?

From what I understand the main issue that Outlook won't properly run on Windows RT is due to the network connection and the way the OS "hibernates"; it basically throttles the CPU to run extremely slow thus saving battery power while still having the option to remain connected. A pristine Outlook is said not to be able and cope with that.

But another Outlook issue, one which has been going on for ages now, is the issue of the "Hotmail connector" (plugin / add-on) which is not capable to fully synchronize all the data with Hotmail, Outlook.com or whatever Microsoft decides to call it later. Contact information and calendar appointments will be synced but todo items won't. I know I've been repeating this issue for quite a few times now, but honestly; todo's can really make or break your workflow. Which is why this is such a huge deal to me.

Another aspect is that Outlook simply excels at this feature. Example: when I write an e-mail to someone I can immediately tell Outlook that I want to follow up on it. In the same Window in which I write the e-mail I can tell Outlook that I want a reminder about this e-mail today, tomorrow, this week, next week or customize it. A feature which is IMVHO invaluable. I use it a lot when sending out "e-bills". It reminds me to look into payments; has someone paid their bill within the 31 day limit? If not I need to follow up on it, if they did I can simply mark the task as "done" and be done with it.

So although this sounds like a good thing I can't help wonder; will they only change stuff so that Outlook runs at all on Windows RT or will they go all the way and finally add the missing link so that the "Hotmail connector" will be capable of synchronizing everything you want ?

I don't think I'll keep my hopes up though. Its not that I have anything against Microsoft, I don't perse, but its just that I've seen too many incomplete and unfinished products being released as of late and even good products (IMO that is) sort of being thrown away (discontinued).

Quite frankly I won't be surprised if they manage to get Outlook going on Windows RT yet with the same limitations which we still have on the desktop (see above). Though I do honestly hope that Microsoft is going to surprise us for a change.

4
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they go all the way then?

If they don't, you might be surprised at how useful Google calendar is. For example, it links in to Google+ Hangouts, and you can tell it to send SMS, email and/or pop-up reminders. It is less sophisticated overall, but supports task scheduling, and combined with gmail and Google Docs/Google Drive, does enough office type things well enough to satisfy most people.

3
5
Silver badge
Meh

If they don't

If they don't there will be no reason in the Universe to buy a Surface RT.

4
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they go all the way then?

"From what I understand the main issue that Outlook won't properly run on Windows RT is due to the network connection and the way the OS "hibernates"; it basically throttles the CPU to run extremely slow thus saving battery power while still having the option to remain connected. A pristine Outlook is said not to be able and cope with that."

This shouldn't be an issue. I'm an Android dev and I have worked with long lasting TCP connections for push messaging and such. What happens on a basic level is the connection is established and the CPU shuts down when the device goes to sleep, the application itself is suspended although may have asked the OS to wake-up the CPU at some point in the future (e.g. to send a keep-alive etc.)

At this point, the mobile radio chips (cellular/Wifi) are still powered and connected but the CPU is sleeping. When a packet is received, the CPU is woken up to handle it. This is how Google's service works to push GCM, gtalk and app updates etc.

I see no reason why a Windows RT device with Outlook couldn't/wouldn't do the same. I'm not familiar with the protocol Exchange Server uses so there may be something within the protocol that is limiting this model.

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: Will they go all the way then?

"At this point, the mobile radio chips (cellular/Wifi) are still powered and connected but the CPU is sleeping. When a packet is received, the CPU is woken up to handle it. This is how Google's service works to push GCM, gtalk and app updates etc."

This is where Blackberry has a big and largely unacknowledged advantage. Their push mechanism allows the entire phone, save for the radio receiver, to be powered off. Crucially the power hungry bit of the radio chip is the transmitter (it might be drawing more than 2 Watts), and that is switched off. They can do this because of the tight integration of BB services into the radio layer signalling of the cell network operator's systems, which costs you £5/month. That's well worth it - your battery lasts a lot longer, and it's cheaper if you're busy and on a data limited connection contract. It's also effectively instant because there's no polling involved at all (unless that's happening server side - e.g. a BIS account polling a POP3 mailbox on the mobile's behalf).

BB dress this mechanism up into a push service API that any app developer can use. It uses an SSL connection on the server side and a call back on the mobile client side. The underlying mechanism is hidden from you, and the app need do nothing special to make it work.

It's RIM's prime piece of intellectual property and it's patented up to the hilt, which is why no one else has replicated it.

I don't think that RIM speak enough about this piece of technology. It's been there so long that I think they've forgotten how neat it is in comparison to anyone else's push mechanism. They invented it long before the whole mobile revolution took place. And now there's an entire generation of devs who have no idea that there's anything special about it.

Everyone I speak to who has an interest in mobile app development has no idea about how it actually works and assume that BB push is as wasteful of power as everyone else's. Even RIM's own documentation talks about only the advantages but doesn't explain how they're achieved. This leaves developers with no real information about the key piece of technology that differentiates BB push from anyone else's push API, meaning that the claims are often dismissed as marketing blurb. RIM need to shout about it more than they do.

5
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Bazza Re: Will they go all the way then?

Totally agree with you on the BB point, I could never understand why M$ bought Nokia when they should have been buying RIM. But, as regards the email on a Surface RT, I disagree with the article in the insistence that Outlook just HAS to be on the Surface RT - why? Consider that it is meant to compete with the iPad, and there is no similar integrated app on the iPad, so why does it have to be on the RT? And how many students (the target market) actually need full-blown Outlook? I would suggest a simple Hotmail/Skype/Messenger bundle is actually more to their needs. If they are using Office365 then they can use the web interface to Exchange. Sorry, but the whole article seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill.

1
2
Silver badge

Re: Will they go all the way then?

I thought TCP keep-alive was an OS function too. The app can stay asleep while the OS keeps the connection going.

0
0

Re: Bazza Will they go all the way then?

For Microsoft to buy RIM would mean running the anti-trust gauntlet. It might have been accepted when hardly anyone had heard of BlackBerry yet and Windows Mobile wasn't in intense competition for the same corporate customers. (Microsoft was once going to acquire Intuit and that fell through. Imagine how different some things would be with that one.) But that time is long, long ago.

WinRT doesn't necessarily need Outlook but it sure as hell needs a more serious communications hub app. They either need to rapidly grow the feature set in the current one or offer a high-end alternative in the store. Cheapskates on a x86 tablet can at least still get Live Mail and any number of third party alternatives.

The problem solves itself if low-end x86 tablets are more popular than ARM but hey need to hedge their bets.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they go all the way then?

Windows 8 (including RT and Phone) does this type of CPU power saving inbuilt to the OS: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20039669

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Bazza Will they go all the way then?

Last time I checked, Microsoft had NOT bought Nokia....If fact they have tied Nokia into a very lucrative license agreement for Microsoft - which whilst costing Microsoft at first, becomes very lucrative in the long term....

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Will they go all the way then?

Actually my guess would be more along the lines of having some binary blob in there they lost the sourcecode for somewhere in the 1990s. Or some code which was writtein in the 1990s which does something, but won't work on ARM and nobody knows what it does.

Remember that's 1990s code, written by people who haven't seen SMTP back then. Back then code quality simply was way worse than it is now.

BTW, speaking of features, I'd be happy already if there was some way to properly reply to HTML mail. (in the sense of writing a readable reply, not the more obvious pissing the other person off)

1
0
Silver badge

Intel's Bitch

When it comes to a non-x86 platform, I firmly believe MSFT is Intel's bitch. Intel don't want RT to succeed and I believe there are some tensions there between MSFT and Intel. I suspect MSFT produced (the knee-capped) RT out of desperation to stay relevant but, at the same time, appease Intel by removing functionality.

This Outlook on RT is just more of MSFT hedgeing its bets. Until Intel can produce a viable x86 competitor, MSFT will always toy around with ARM. As soon as Intel does, MSFT will drop ARM like a lead weight.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Intel's Bitch

> I suspect MSFT produced (the knee-capped) RT out of desperation to stay relevant.

I always thought that WOA (Windows on ARM) was introduced as a weapon to stop OEMs producing ARM devices running nonWindows OSes. MS had brought back XP for netbooks in order to stop OEMs producing Linux based ones, now they needed something to kill HP's WebOS, Dell's ARM servers and everyone else's Androids.

Without WOA then MS could not wave 'loyalty discounts' to control the OEMs.

Perhaps the OEMs should look at Loongson/Android/Linux.

2
0

It would be insane not to release this retrospectively for RT

I was in the market for a Surface until I found out how badly crippled it was. I really wanted one, but read with growing disbelief just what I'd have to do without. This left me, as someone reliant on Outlook, with the choice of waiting for SurfacePro(per) (and paying through the nose to boot), or looking elsewhere. I looked elsewhere as I couldn't wait.

So whilst it may not pull their irons completely out of the fire, releasing OutlookRT as both a retro-patch and as part of the standard RT bundle might gain them some badly needed Surface cred.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: It would be insane not to release this retrospectively for RT

Another issue might be the amount of CPU required for outlook to do its thing (managing local email).

Perhaps the sophistication of desktop outlook simply can't be matched with an ARM cpu, so there isn't much point trying.

0
5
Anonymous Coward

Re: It would be insane not to release this retrospectively for RT

'Crippled' in relation to a Surface Pro maybe. RT is still a lot more powerful than any Android or Apple tablet option.

2
6
FAIL

@AC Re: It would be insane not to release this retrospectively for RT

Given that I can pick up my mail from and synch my calendar and contacts with our company Exchange server on *most* Android devices (I don't use Apple) and can't on RT, then your comment is simply daft.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Stop Gap

While (whilst?) waiting for MS to make up their minds, you could use remote desktop software to connect from your favourite non-MS fondleslab to a desktop running Windows. I think you'll find that arrangement supports all your existing desktop software, especially if you attach a keyboard and mouse to your fondleslab.

0
0
Gold badge

Re: Stop Gap

That presumes you have your Windows desktop accessible in some way (VPN?) over the internet. It's probably the best way to use a slab, but equally it's probably beyond the average home user to set it up securely (or even insecurely) and beyond the average corporate user to persuade their IT security bods to do so.

1
0
Silver badge

"...its future is clouded by internal politics"

It's all fallen into place, at least in my mind. The total lack of actual surface devices in the places people normally go to buy their stuff, leaving out Media Center and no Outlook - these all seem to indicate that Microsoft don't really want to market a Home version of the thing.

That seems to be madness, given the amount of money they're putting into selling it to us ordinary folk, but it's logical if the reason is internal politics.

It's as if one faction didn't want a Home version at all and has sufficient clout to ensure that the 'Home version' faction only get to release a broken/crippled version.

If internal politics is going to be that costly to microsoft then I seriously wonder if it is going to last too many more years.

6
0
Silver badge
Trollface

Re: "...its future is clouded by internal politics"

"Crippled by Ballmer"

The new motto going forward!

2
0
Bronze badge
Facepalm

Surface RT Plus / Surface RT Home & Business Edition

It's funny how Apple don't need to artificially differentiate their tablet product in this way, and their single product (disregarding physical size) is a massive success both with consumers and businesses.

Is it so hard for Microsoft to see where they are going wrong with the Surface RT? While the hardware is OK, the software it runs is intentionally crippled. Consumers and businesses alike recognise this, and it's one very large reason why none of them are buying it.

What Microsoft should have done is offer the full Windows OS on both ARM and x86, no differences in the software beyond the capabilities of the hardware (Surface ARM/Surface x86). Punting a crippled version of both Windows and Office on ARM is not turning out to be a winning solution.

As for Outlook RT, perhaps Microsoft could deliver it in a "Service Pack" but honestly I don't think anyone cares, the Surface RT product and Windows on ARM is a dead duck.

2
3
Bronze badge

Re: Surface RT Plus / Surface RT Home & Business Edition

Isn't it more like the difference between iPad/iOS and an Airbook/OS X?

You can't expect to do on the former what you can on the latter. But whereas one can tell the difference between the two Apple products, the Windows 8 on ARM and Windows 8 on x86 appear similar. Similar things are expected, but not delivered.

1
0
Thumb Up

Re: Surface RT Plus / Surface RT Home & Business Edition

Yep, totally agree. MS has shot them selves in the foot with this one. They are trying to preach to everyone as the only totally (going forward) vertical cross product OS, Tablet to PC, and then totally cripple the RT. They should have left it open and then allowed anyone to cross migrate any application the market wanted instead of trying to copy Apple into wall gardening it.

Now they have the worst of both worlds. A cheapish crippled RT and expensive full blown Surface Tablet. When they announced Windows ARM a few rears ago I thought at last they are attempting to change direction and move forward with the OS however it seems the old MS just can't let Intel go..

1
1
Anonymous Coward

lets face it..

Outlook for RT v1 will be a typical microsoft V1 product and be missing so many key features it will of no use to anyone.

It's probably missing exchange support or something stupid.

Besides, as it seems RT is never going to have full domain support, its never going to able to offer any significant benefit to businesses over android/ios anyway.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: lets face it..

The obvious benefit to businesses over android / ios is the much more secure and powerful OS on Surface RT and a proper version of Microsoft Office. For instance full USB support, proper multitasking (e.g. run one app on the tablet and another on the external screen output at the same time).

If you want the full corporate solution then of course that's Surface Pro....

2
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: lets face it..

Hmm not so sure on a lot of your comments...

Its maybe a little early to be judging if RT is more secure. Its also maybe a question of opinion rather than fact that it is more powerful than android.

As for proper version of Office - again, depends what you call a proper version. I've not really played with it yet, but the lack of macro support is a very crippling missing feature.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

gid'y'up lil' doggies

Mi¢rosoft may as well re-brand their Outlook product as 'Cattle Drive'. With 'cowboy' and 'cattle' editions.

Then, its administration suite could be called 'slaugherhouse'.

1
3

What trick is required precisely? I'd imagine nothing more complex than a Windows Update.

Y'know, the one that updates the preview version of Office RT to the release version.

2
0
Silver badge

What trick is required precisely?

That would be a deep low level understanding of your product so that you could re-write things like VB and some core Windows functions that are so heavily reliant on the intel architecture and so old that they really don’t understand it and so cant actually convert it to work reliably on ARM. They could use an ARM intel emulator but that would stick out like a sore thumb and people would point and laugh and then get seriously worried that MS have well and truly lost their way so for now we are fed Marketing excuses and hope and pray that no-one notices they cant keep up with 1995 technology.

0
0
Gold badge

Re: What trick is required precisely?

"so heavily reliant on the intel architecture and so old"

If they are more than 15 years old, they ran fine on MIPS, Power and Alpha, you must be talking about some new dependency on x86 that crept in *after* everything was ported to a flat 32-bit memory model and run in user-space. It seems unlikely that such a dependency could be all that hard to remove.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What trick is required precisely?

Windows has had a native 64 bit version for well over a decade too, so that's not likely...

1
0
Silver badge

@Ken Hagan

" they ran fine on MIPS, Power and Alpha"

I know that Windows NT ran fine on those machines' CPUs, but was Office every offered for them? And in "full fat" mode with all of the VB scripting, etc, that makes them such a dependency for a lot of businesses?

The 64-bit point made by another commentard is less of an issue, as we know that most 32-bit software would run OK on 64-bit Windows (though not all of the 16-bit stuff).

(p.s. this is a genuine question, not simple trolling)

0
0
Bronze badge
Facepalm

@Paul Crawford

I know that Windows NT ran fine on those machines' CPUs, but was Office every offered for them?

Wikipedia (that fount of all wisdom) says:

Microsoft tried in the mid 1990s to port Office to RISC processors such as NEC / MIPS and IBM / PowerPC, but they met problems such as memory access being hampered by data structure alignment requirements. Microsoft Word 97 and Excel 97 however did ship for the DEC Alpha platform. Difficulties in porting Office may have been a factor in discontinuing Windows NT on non-Intel platforms.[citation needed]

So, apparently not.

Facepalm because I thought Microsoft was supposed to be a software company. That they can't get their own code to run on their own platform on a different architecture speaks volumes for their overall competence (or at least for that of the Office team, the OS guys seem to have done rather better).

2
0
Silver badge

@dajames

Actually Alpha had an emulator running on it allowing you to run x86 code... so getting Office to run was a no-brainer.

0
0
Bronze badge

Differentiation/confusion/separation

I'm supposing as its the average domestic user version of Windows8-on-a-tablet, the mail app on the Surface RT is supposed to be simple and do a few things efficiently. Sufficient to enable you to keep in contact with your family, receive newsletters, forward links of youtube videos to your mates.

The mail app can connect to several different types of email accounts - ie presets to make it relatively simple to connect to the major email providers but in theory to any pop/smtp or imap account. It could be seen as a successor to Outlook Express/Live Mail.

By contrast, Outlook does many things for those who use email in a business (or other heavy lifting) situation and it integrates with the rest of the MS office suite and is best in tandem with Exchange. Working offline, it can take a couple of gig of email/attachments etc (all too easy to amass in a business environment) which would be a fair proportion of the RT's available storage if it was achievable.

From my limited experience setting up a Surface RT, it will interact with a home network of computers- particularly the MS homegroup kind - but not with a domain/business network (that might have been me though). Which makes it seem a poor choice for semi-business use in the UK, though given the absence of the Surface Pro for the foreseeable, there wasn't a lot of choice within the MS eco-system.

It may be that an RT can be used for work within a business provided the business can present its content through http (Remote Web Workplace, OWA etc). But then there's a loss of integration with the start menu/tiles (Mail, contacts, Skydrive) and you might as well have had some other device...

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Differentiation/confusion/separation

After perusing the net I did get the mail app to talk to an exchange server - might have been easier if the server's certificate had not been self-signed and/or the internal domain name matched the external one.

And the RT can access the corporate network - with appropiate credentials - but it doesn't show the servers and computers under "network", I had to give it a push by typing a network path to a folder.

0
0
bed

Windows RT and Activesync

Quote from Microsoft's web site: "When work takes you everywhere, you need access to corporate data wherever you are. Surface with Windows RT can connect to your company’s Exchange Server using Exchange Active Sync3. Mail, calendar and contacts are instantly accessible and always in sync." Which implies a) that the device is aimed at the corporate marketplace (despite statements from Microsoft suggesting the opposite - see licencing terms for Office RT) and that most of the functionality of Outlook is there, probably similar to what can be done with a Nokia Lumia or Nokia with Belle - it being understood (or maybe not) that more complicated functionaly (as mention elswhere) is available at the desktop or via webmail. So, don'e expect it to be a desktop replacement, despite it being more expensive than a halfway useable laptop.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Windows RT and Activesync

What it implies is there's no unified plan for Surface, RT or Win8. Just a competing bunch of interests inside MS, all fighting to force this years product(s) into a supporting role for their divisions plan. Worst of all it's been rushed out too quickly, before any winner could emerge.

So we have products with no clear direction, with most parts of MS giving different messages about them, software components that look unfinished and mismatched to the devices it runs on. And if there's a winner inside MS its the marketing wonks that decided using the desktop monopoly to cross promote their way into new markets was worth compromising *every* product for.

3
0

If Microsoft want a slice of the tablet market

They're going have to stop shooting themselves in the foot. The kind of politics that might hold back the existing RT applications, Outlook for RT or even Office for none Windows platforms (where they can name their price) is exactly the kind of politics that nearly killed Nokia (which may yet be in a terminal death spiral).

2
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Windows Store App - feasible.

I don't know if you've played with OneNote MX. It's a touch-optimised version of OneNote and it's really rather clever. One could even call it innovative, if one were of a mind to.

Try it. It's a free download from the Windows App Store. (Also runs on normal Win8).

I see no reason why the whole Office suite can't follow along in MX versions.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Failure

What Steve "what's a computer?" Ballmer doesn't realise is by not releasing the full version of Office for iPad he has killed Microsoft

1
1

Microsoft would have to be crazy not to release Outlook for Windows RT if they can. It's the corporate standard client and that makes it one of the few killer features they have the ability to offer over iOS and Android. I loathe the damn thing, personally, but it really is The One as far as business e-mail clients go.

2
0
Go

As His Unique Holiness, The Steve Of California Said

"they made the salesguy CEO"

Salesguys know how to work people, but they are normally very shallow on technology, strategy and analytical thinking. In this case, he doesn't understand the underlying reasons to go with ARM. I won't tell him here, as his minions might report it to him. The salesguy is on a nice trajectory to make MS insignificant, which is as good as IBM becoming history.

We finally have real competition in OSes (Linux vs BSD (variants) vs Polished Turd and the things they have built on top of that). There is even a chance that Blackberry establishes one more major competitor (QNX), which brings some real strengths.

10
0
Anonymous Coward

It's not a technical issue

I don't think the issue is a technical one. Consider: One of the main reasons business types like Outlook is that they have their email, contacts, and calendar all integrated. Now, suppose you let that happen on a phone or tablet - now the business type needs his Windows PC a whole lot less; you weaken the Windows monopoly on the desktop.

This Will Not Do.

So Microsoft has a choice, both sides of which are bad: weaken the desktop monopoly to try to create a mobile monopoly to make money in the future, or weaken their monopoly-to-be on the phone market to support the monopoly that is making them money right now. I think what we are seeing is the same sort of divisional infighting that kept Windows 7 from having better tablet support - one division would benefit, one would suffer, who has more pull with Ballmer?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: It's not a technical issue

But any fule know that one platform would re-inforce the other. If you make Exchange annoying on tablets then people try to find solutions that work on both desktop and tablets. If you find a solution that works without Exchange on a tablet then the next step is finding a solution that works without Exchange on a desktop. And then you're free of the monopoly.

So Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot. You can't really have one platform for everything artificially nobbled on some hardware profiles, because then you don't have one platform for everything.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

who the hell even cares?

The bloody thing has been in the heat of discussions for over a year yet there's none to be seen on sale in the country where I live.

It's Zune all over again. So who the hell even cares what other Microsoft software may or may not run on this device. No-one will know, non-one will miss it because no-one actually saw or used one. So bugger off with that crap!

2
0
Facepalm

Really?

I'm not sure I understand - If I buy a Win RT device I have to use webmail? I'm afraid that's unbelievable...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

No. You have to use the built in Mail App, which is very lightweight but works.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.