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June 5, 2013

Outlook 2013 RT coming to Surface RT – and more

Hi. I’ve posted here a few times but I haven’t really introduced myself. I’m Brian Hall, and I joined the Surface team several months ago. I learned about how cool Surface was the first time many of you did when Panos announced it last June. I went to our local Microsoft store right when it became available and bought mine. And I loved it as did my wife and kids (my oldest liked that he got his own picture and his own pin. Shhh. It’s his birthday.). I met more people in random places who loved their Surface as a very productive tablet or were intrigued with mine. And so when I got a chance to come work on the Surface team, helping to tell the Surface story to more people, helping Surface users tell their stories, and generally just getting more people to recognize how great Surface is, I jumped at it.

I love Surface Pro, but I think I like Surface RT even more. I love it for its size, weight, battery life, and of course that I can get things done on the same device that is my personal tablet. Mine has been partly appropriated by the kids (my wife Edie got her own), but I use it in particular when I travel and when I’m doing work at home. I see how great it is today and see the very strong promise for the future.

There frankly has been one big thing missing for me, though. It’s the same thing that Edie asked about when she came back from a forestry industry conference. (Seriously, they sound really interesting, even though not that many people wear chaps or have chainsaws). She came back and talked about a guy she met who had a Surface and was showing it off to other people. He said the one thing he really wanted was Outlook.

That made a lot of sense to me.

In my previous role I helped to deliver a new email service to the world, When we took a fresh look at the email landscape, it was clear to us that many people love Outlook and wanted a great email service to go with it.

I am also someone that has lived in Outlook when I’m doing real work. It’s how I email for work, know where I need to be and schedule time with other people, and manage all my contacts. So while I liked the Mail app for touch, especially after the updates in March, when it was time to do real work, I needed Outlook.

So I am thrilled for myself, for Edie’s colleague, and for everyone else who really likes Outlook to point out that all Surface RT users will get Outlook 2013 RT, alongside a lot of other cool stuff coming with Windows 8.1. Tami Reller announced this just recently at Computex. This means that in addition to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, which all Surface RT users already have, their Surface will get Outlook 2013 RT as part of Windows 8.1 for free via the Windows Store.

We’ll be able to use Surface RT better for work, with some more IT blessing (but not too much, please).

I use my Surface RT for work quite a bit, and bring it in occasionally. It’s my personal tablet, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be able to jump into work mode at times too. To date, though, it hasn’t been able to work with the corporate network as well as I’d like.

So I’m excited to also point out that the Windows team also announced this week that there are a number of new business features and enhancements that will also come to Surface customers with the Windows 8.1 update. We’ll have better access to the corporate network and better VPN options. And IT departments who want to ensure my device is safe enough to access resources and store corporate files will also be able to do. Surface RT with Windows 8.1 will have strong mobile device management capabilities. This will let the IT department manage some settings, give certificates, and protect data, even if it’s my personal system if I want to let them do that to get access to work resources.

The Surface Type Cover and Touch Cover are about to get even better.

We’ve talked about how we keep making improvements across Surface. This is just making a great product even better.

One of the things I like most about Surface is the Type Cover. I like Touch Cover, but after having banged away on laptop keyboards for many years, I’m just more comfortable with Type. I had used a Lenovo laptop for years and loved that keyboard, and have loved Type Cover just as much since I made the switch to Surface.

At times I have missed some of the dedicated keys on my old keyboard, though. For instance just today I was kicking into a presentation with PowerPoint and instinctively hit F5. On Type Cover and Touch Cover, that is also the key for Search and so I ended up in the search screen rather than what I had intended, which was to start the presentation from the first slide. I figured that out quickly, hit escape, and then Fn-F5 and was in business.

But with an update that will come in about a week for Surface, we’ll have the ability to toggle between what the keys on the top row do, get some quick access to other capabilities like screenshots through shortcuts, and just make some things like paging easier to do with one hand. These include:

Fn + Caps: Locks F1-F12 into being function keys. Do it again and you get the charms, volume, Home, End, etc. if you are in the function lock mode, you can get the inverse options by pressing the Fn key, naturally
Fn + <spacebar>: Print Screen
Fn + <spacebar> + Alt: Print Screen for the in-focus App only
Fn + Del: Brightness Up
Fn + Backspace: Brightness Down
Fn + <left>: Home
Fn + <right>: End
Fn + <up>: Page Up
Fn + <down>: Page Down

Surface is great and only getting better. I wanted to take this chance to introduce myself and highlight a few things I’m pretty excited about that are upcoming with Surface with Outlook 2013 RT, manageability, and Type Cover and Touch Cover getting even more productive. I hope you are excited about these as well.

Brian Hall
General Manager, Microsoft Surface