Outlook not in Home / Student Editions – the larger issue

I want to chime in on what Marc Orchant is talking about on his blog regarding Outlook missing from the Home and Student Editions of Office 2007. Marc makes a very good case on how this is  good move on the part of Microsoft, especially when you consider Vista’s much improved Windows Mail client.

Here is where I think Microsoft has messed up: part of the Out of Box experience with buying a tablet pc is inking an email and sending it to a friend. Outlook does a fairly good job with that and it raises the ““wow” factor tremendously. Think about students as well — sending an email to a fellow student in ink — word gets around ““ I gotta be able to do that”. Most folks who go buy to Best Buy and CompUSA to buy a Tablet PC will usually pick up the cheapest version of Office they can get by with: the  Home / Student Edition. It will be the edition I buy for my clients who get home PCs and tablet PCs.

Considering that Microsoft is trying to increase the ““lifestyle” usefulness of ultra mobile and tablet PCs, don’t you think that ink-enabling Windows Mail for Vista would have been a priority? Getting ink across basic OS apps is a must to increase the transparency and out of box experience for new tablet pc users. Instead, the user is faced with using the TIP to ink an email, or worse, the keyboard. The new tablet pc enthusiast immediately begins to think: inking just isn’t an integral part of using a computer yet. I can’t even ink an email. The wall immediately begins to go up.

I believe that Microsoft is making a huge mistake by relying too much on TIP input for basic OOB expeience: search, windows mail, etc. They also send a message to the ISVs — “relying on the TIP is fine. Follow our lead.” Relying on TIP input for your apps is wrong. Transparent computing begins with allowing ink to be a defacto input and handlng the recognition automatically without needing a separate interface or need to press another button.

If Microsoft isn’t going to include Outlook in their Home / Student Editions, they MUST ink enable Windows Mail. While Vista is a huge step forward in terms of personalization and tablet pc functionality, the most glaring miss here is Windows Mail, which will be the defacto means of communications with ones peers, especially for those who buy the Home / Student Edition of Office 2007. Including ink as part of that standard experience would do nothing but increase tablet pc awareness in huge ways.

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