Microsoft is to offer a free download of their popular email application, allowing consumers to save on purchasing the expensive Microsoft Office standalone software in order to access their emails via their desktop. This free software will be available on all Windows 8 powered tablets, including the Microsoft Surface.
The update will be available via the Windows 8.1 update which is due later this year, date to be confirmed. The company announced the move at Computex 2013, with the aim being to drive demand for their Windows 8 application and sales of their partner’s hardware.
This development comes on the back of news that 61 percent of tablet consumers seek Microsoft Office when considering which tablet to buy, making Office the single most popular piece of software that you can own on your tablet. This research, carried out by Morgan Stanley, seems slightly surprising but may be indicative of the lack of work related software that comes bundled with the popular Apple iPad. This is clearly indicative of the fact that Microsoft believed they can position the Surface, their flagship tablet device, squarely at the business market.
In his official biography, Steve Jobs was referenced as saying that he regretted that the iPad was seen as a media consumption rather than a media creation device. Whilst he worked to change this, with new bundled software of subsequent releases of the iPad, it has never quite worked for the corporate business user. Compare this to the Microsoft Surface, which has a physical keyboard and a free version of Outlook, and you may have a business winner.
It is perhaps telling that the company do not plan to release a free version for PC applications, and that this development is aimed purely at their tablet audience.
The Windows 8 update will also bring back the familiar start button and improved search functionality, alongside the release of the upgraded Outlook app. The update will further streamline the user interface, with inline email replying and other ‘appy’ features.