Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), facing lackluster sales of tablets running its software, said it will include the popular Outlook e-mail program in a new version of Windows RT, after a previous application met with customer complaints.
Outlook 2013 RT will be part of the free Windows 8.1 update that will be publicly tested starting June 26 and officially released later this year, the company said in a blog posting. Users of Windows RT -- Microsoft’s software for devices running chips with ARM Holdings Plc (ARM) technology -- said the previous e-mail program was more basic and lacked many Outlook features.
Microsoft, whose executives are speaking today at the Computex computer show in Taipei, are trying to jump-start sales of Windows RT-based tablets after just 200,000 units were shipped in the first quarter, according to IDC. In an effort to woo device makers that have avoided using the operating system, the company is rolling out price cuts for partners who opt to use RT in smaller tablets, people familiar with the matter said.
“We’re always listening to our customers,” the company said in the blog. “One piece of feedback was that people want the power of Outlook on all their Windows PCs and tablets.”
Windows Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller will unveil the addition of Outlook as part of a speech at the conference, and Antoine Leblond, a Windows vice president, will give the first public demonstration of Windows 8.1. The company announced some features of the updated software last week.
Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 for machines running chips based on ARM designs. Of five such devices that have gone on sale since the program was released in October, only Microsoft’s own Surface tablet remains widely available, Reller said last month. Computer makers such as Acer Inc. (2353) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) have steered clear of the operating system.
Windows RT already comes with several Office programs, including Word and Excel for spreadsheets. Instead of including Outlook, which also lets users manage contacts and calendars, the company built a new mail app for this version of Windows, prompting complaints from customers.
At least one Microsoft partner also asked the company to reconsider. Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang has said he wants Microsoft to include a version of Outlook that works on RT.
“Give me Outlook and I’ll use it every day,” Huang, whose company makes chips used in Microsoft’s Surface RT and other devices based on the software, said in May. The executive said in March that he was disappointed with sales of RT-based tablets.
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