October 18, 2012, 2:23 PM — When Microsoft unveiled its Surface tablet earlier this year, it looked impressive, but left us with few details. This week, Microsoft invited a select group of tech writers for a closer look behind the curtain, and began taking pre-orders for the device that will be available as of October 26. As anxious as some are to get a hold of the new Windows RT tablet, though, there are a few good reasons businesses might think twice.
At face value, a Windows-based device engineered by Microsoft would seem to be a slam dunk for businesses considering tablets. However, Windows RT is a different animal than Windows 8. It relies strictly on the Modern (formerly known as Metro) UI with its colorful tiles, and it can only use apps acquired from the Windows Store.
In both hardware and software, the Surface RT is a bit closer to rival tablet platforms like iOS and Android, and a bit less like the traditional Windows operating system. Still, it comes with Office apps pre-installed, and it could still be a viable mobile productivity tool for businesses.
There are three serious caveats to consider, though.
1. Not for Commercial Use
Paul Thurrott, a prominent expert on Windows, pointed out that the license for Office 2013 Home & Student 2013 RT allows only for non-commercial usejust like the PC version. That means that even though the Surface RT tablet comes with the Office apps pre-installed, the tablet cant actually be used for business productivity out of the box.
Thurrott explains in a separate post that it isnt entirely true that the Office 2013 Home & Student 2013 RT apps cant be used for business. Microsoft has clarified that customers simply need to buy the standard Office 2013 license, and that allows them to also legally use the Office RT apps for commercial use.
That is a workaround, but basically means the Office RT apps that come pre-installed can only be used for business productivity if you also subscribe to Office 365, or invest additional money to buy the full PC version as well.
2. No Outlook