Is Outlook 2013 RT going to be a Windows Store app or a desktop app?

On Wednesday, Microsoft confirmed that it would indeed launch an Outlook 2013 RT client later this year, as part of the free Windows RT 8.1 upgrade. However, Microsoft's Office blog post on the subject was vague on whether or not the client would be a desktop app or a Modern UI app made to be released in the Windows Store.

The blog post simply said Outlook 2013 RT would have " ... a great touch experience for people using tablets." However, almost all of the Office 2013 apps that are included with Windows RT tablets work on the desktop UI, but with touchscreen enhanced designs. OneNote and Lync are the exceptions as Microsoft has also released free Modern UI versions of those apps.

So will Outlook 2013 RT run in the desktop or will it have a Modern interface and be made available from the Windows Store? Microsoft's official Surface Twitter account, in responding to a question from another Twitter user, suggests strongly that Outlook 2013 RT will indeed be a Modern app.

That sounds pretty official, right? Not so fast. Paul Thurrott of Winsupersite.com claims:

It’s also worth noting that, just like those applications, Outlook 2013 RT is a desktop application and not a Metro-style app. And, yes, it looks and works just like the Outlook version found today in x86 versions of Office 2013.

So which version is it? It's possible that whomever is running the official Surface Twitter page has posted incorrect information. In any case, Microsoft is doing itself no favors by not confirming if Outlook 2013 RT is a Modern or desktop app. We have gone ahead and emailed Microsoft to request confirmation for their statement.

Thanks to brent3000 for the tip!

Source: Surface on Twitter

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34 Comments

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I still don't get how this is gonna work. Is it going to have Exchange support? If so, the experience isn't going to be the same as what people expect if they use Outlook in the office.

With Windows RT, domain join isn't possible, therefore Outlook's autodiscover won't work properly. Unless you use Outlook Anywhere to connect, it will keep prompting for credentials.

Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of having Outlook on an ARM tablet, but I still don't see what the experience is going to be like.

Paul is normally accurate but between him and the official Twitter account of the Surface team, I will believe the Surface team. Anyways , they'll be revealing everything on the 26th , why don't we all wait till then ?

It's called "Outlook RT" for a reason... Why would they put "RT" for a desktop app? "Outlook 2013 (desktop)" is the desktop app. Outlook 2013 RT is the metro app.

There was a mockup/screenshot posted online a while ago of the metro app already. There's nothing wrong with metro apps... I'm sure they've redesigned it so it has all the features there just like OneNote and Lync do. Should be exciting.

j2006 said,
It's called "Outlook RT" for a reason... Why would they put "RT" for a desktop app? "Outlook 2013 (desktop)" is the desktop app. Outlook 2013 RT is the metro app.

There was a mockup/screenshot posted online a while ago of the metro app already. There's nothing wrong with metro apps... I'm sure they've redesigned it so it has all the features there just like OneNote and Lync do. Should be exciting.


Actually One Note Metro does not have the same features of One Note 2013. I am sure that sooner or later Office will have a Metro version but what the suite will include, compared to the desktop version, is a different story.

neonspark said,
office is called office RT...and it is a desktop app.....err so no.

Exactly, because if it were a modern ui application then it would run on both. That is why I expect (and hope) that Outlook 2013 RT will be a desktop application.

Chances that the Outlook team had time to redesign the Outlook app for the Modern experience are very low.

The app to be released is, unfortunately, very likely to be an ARM port of the desktop version.

TheCyberKnight said,
Chances that the Outlook team had time to redesign the Outlook app for the Modern experience are very low.

The app to be released is, unfortunately, very likely to be an ARM port of the desktop version.

Arg, why do some people keep insist that it being a desktop app is such a bad thing!?!?! There have been four or five articles on read on this subject, and each one there is at least one person complaining that it should be a modern ui app, but nobody has taken the time to explain why.

domboy said,

Arg, why do some people keep insist that it being a desktop app is such a bad thing!?!?! There have been four or five articles on read on this subject, and each one there is at least one person complaining that it should be a modern ui app, but nobody has taken the time to explain why.

Here are a few reasons off the top of my head:
- A Modern app is likely to be more finger friendly and thus better suited to a tablet
- It's easier to switch back and forth between Modern apps than between Modern apps and desktop apps
- The soft keyboard is a pain to use on the desktop as it doesn't automatically appear and disappear when text fields are selected.
- Charms aren't supported for desktop apps (e.g. search, sharing, etc.)

To be honest I can't really think of a good reason for it not to be a Modern app on Windows RT and I doubt I will use it if it's a desktop app. And for the record, I think Outlook is a great application and I rely on it all the time.

I think they misunderstood the question and thought it was where will the app be available -- will people have to go to the desktop to download it (read: go to Microsoft's website, for instance, and have a file saved to the desktop, or will it be available from the Windows Store.

Desktop applications are available in the Windows Store, just not for Windows RT since they're all bundled. This would be the first time a desktop app is available in the store for RT.

Dot Matrix said,
I hope it's a store app. Why go through all this trouble just to put me into the desktop on my tablet?

I guess everybody wants something different. To me the Surface isn't just a tablet, it's a convertible, meaning tablet and laptop, which is why I bought it. Outlook RT should be a desktop app, just like the rest of Office 2013 RT. If they want to also release a modern ui Outlook app in addition to the real Outlook they can go right ahead...

They really, really should have done a better job of nailing down all this Metro/RT/Store terminology.

Then once they had done so using them consistently and predictably as well as comprehensibly (to mere mortals, not just technical experts).

True, but it's like a bank explaining you their financial products, or your doctor explaining you medical procedures. You might understand what they are saying, but without all the background information you cannot really interpret this information.

Microsoft fumbled badly (yet again) with RT. They had a real opportunity and allowed their arrogance and greed to cloud their judgement. Now, it's too late, aside from a few fanboys, no one cares about RT, when the real fire sales begin, it will mark the only time people will have any interest...throw away prices. Microsoft doesn't really understand that MOST people use their products because they feel they have to, not because they want to. If they simply made it a great value and established themselves early, it could have been a real opportunity to break that attitude.

you're over dramatizing it. RT still has a good shot in the small tablet form for as long as ARM keeps creating the cheapest and more power efficient chips. and if it comes with office and outlook, that jus sweetens the deal. remember that the office that ships with small windows tablets does not come with outlook....making it a non starter.

furthermore, a lot of people who wanted RT tablets didn't buy them because of the lack of outlook.

Come on, this is the new 'Windows 8' Microsoft we're talking about here... It'll just be the Windows 8 Mail app (from the mail, messages and photos bundle), rebranded to Outlook.

Yeah, I think so too. But it's strange though as it will fall out of place with the rest of Office, unless those desktop apps will be updated to the same shell soon.

Neobond said,
Maybe like Chrome is a desktop app embedded within a Metro app shell? (afaik)

No, definitely not. That metro/desktop hybrid capability is limited ONLY to web browsers, according to documentation a. Plus, only the default web browser can do this. So Outlook RT will NOT be like this

Errr I highly doubt the Outlook team made an Outlook metro app, if they did it would not be announcement for Outlook on RT it would be an announcement for Outlook metro on ALL Windows 8 systems which would have to be free?? Makes no sense, definitely the desktop app if you ask me.

-adrian- said,
Well -
if its ARM version it runs on RT and is not compatible with x86 machines

But there is no reason why they would make a Metro style app and only compile it for ARM when there's no technical limitation preventing them from compiling it to x86 as well.

^ Yeah by default most Metro apps will work on both ARM and x86 without the developer even having to do anything. You just compile for "Any CPU" which is the default in Visual Studio.