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Windows 8: Redmond, We Have a Problem

Stocks in this article: MSFT AAPL GOOG ARMH

On the other hand, as much as there is a small number of people who torture themselves by using an iPad with a keyboard and use a variety of methods to obtain Microsoft Office access or compatibility, the vast majority of people find this to be an inferior approach for office productivity. The iPad is the market's best media consumption gadget, but it's not a work productivity tool.

After I reread Sinofsky's blog post a second time, I realized that the word "Outlook" was never mentioned. Word, Excel and PowerPoint were, but not Outlook. I asked Microsoft's investor relations about it. Was it simply a mistake? No, I was told, Windows 8 on ARM for tablets, laptops and desktops will not get Outlook.


The No. 1 reason most people I know stick with Microsoft is because Windows is the best platform to run Outlook. Yes, you can run Outlook on a Mac, but it's not the same -- unless you run Windows in a virtual machine (such as VMWare's (VMW) "Fusion" or equivalent). Apple's own address book, as well as Google's, simply doesn't have the functionality of Outlook.

For example, Apple's own address book is limited to 25,000 users, as is Google's, and you can't customize the views to sort columns on any criteria you want. There are millions of users out there who have converted everything they can to Apple and/or Google, but they still keep an old Microsoft PC around for the sole purpose of running Outlook.

So here was Microsoft with an exciting new platform that had a legitimate claim for an enterprise sweet spot that Apple and Google could not claim in the same way, and ... whoops, Microsoft just shot itself in the foot by excluding the one critical piece of the puzzle.

There is a special place on a wall of shame for those who are so stupid to have missed this critical point in the product planning. Ballmer, wake up!

Then came June 18, and Microsoft's surprise announcement of the two Surface tablets -- one based on ARM technology (built by NVDIA in this case) and the other based on x86. Let's distinguish between the two: The ARM version won't offer Outlook, whereas the x86 version will run Outlook. In other words, the ARM version is doomed for the enterprise market, whereas the x86 version passes at least this hurdle.

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