On Thursday Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang admitted to CNET that the company is "working really hard" with Microsoft on the next-generation Surface RT tablet. The news arrives after the company said that it's committed to Windows RT for the long-term, that it sees a great future in the ARM-compatible version of Windows 8.
"Surface RT is the very beginning of a long process and it's the first shot in a changing landscape," Rene Haas, vice president of computing products at Nvidia, previously said. "Microsoft is moving the entire Windows platform to something really mobile."
Last month Microsoft revealed that it was forced to write down $900 million for Surface RT due to a lack of sales, and then finally admitted that both Surface RT and Surface Pro – the latter of which is x86-based and compatible with Windows desktop software – only generated $853 million in revenue since their debut in October 2012. Needless to say, the second-generation will need to knock everyone's socks off.
Huang believes that one of the big problems surrounding Surface RT sales is that it doesn't have an Outlook RT app – it's the "killer app" for Windows, he says. No disrespect to the Nvidia CEO, but any Surface RT owner can access Outlook through the web browser or the built-in Mail app. Sure, it's more convenient to click on a live tile and have a Modern UI-themed Outlook interface, but Microsoft's tablet has an even bigger issue stalling sales: incompatibility with desktop software aka "customer confusion." Surface Pro doesn't have this problem.
However, on an enterprise level, an Outlook RT app is a more ideal solution; it keeps users out of the browser. By default, Outlook is the ideal client for email services based on Microsoft Exchange, and it works well with Active Directory. It's extremely secure, and integrates with other Microsoft applications like Calendar, and so on. Unfortunately, a tablet-based Outlook RT app also has its restrictions which Microsoft clearly points out here.
Currently, the Outlook 2013 RT app is available in Windows RT 8.1 Public Preview, but it only runs on the desktop and not via the Start screen like other Modern UI apps. Users can connect to their POP and IMAP email accounts, and their Exchange Active Sync accounts. It's optimized for touch, but users can connect the keyboard and switch into Mouse Mode for a more desktop-like interaction.
Huang told CNET that with the second-generation Surface RT, both companies are going to "bring it." They're "working really hard on it" and "hope that it's going to be a big success."
Microsoft teased two new Surface models back on mid-July during its Worldwide Partner Conference. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner said that fiscal 2014 will be the company's biggest "innovation year" ever, displaying a slide showing a collection of product launch points including Skype, Windows Phone, Office, Dynamics and even Surface.
Nvidia, confirming its part in the second-generation Surface RT plans, backs up what sources have claimed for the last several months. The Tegra 4 chip will likely power only Wi-Fi based models while a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip – possibly the 800 – would power a 4G LTE model. The updated Surface Pro tablet will supposedly pack a fourth-generation Intel core "Haswell" processor.
Microsoft's 2014 fiscal year began July 1, 2013. Bring it, we say.