Nick Parker has one of the more interesting jobs in the PC business right now. As corporate vice president for Microsoft's OEM division, he manages the company's relationships with PC manufacturers, including sales and licensing of Windows.
It's not always an easy job. Microsoft ruffled a few feathers last year when it started selling its own Surface tablets, effectively competing with its hardware partners. And Windows 8 has taken some of the blame for the slump in the PC business, although the popularity of tablets hasn't helped.
At Computex, Microsoft is taking steps to strike back. Parker gave Microsoft's keynote at the show Wednesday and hosted the first public demonstration of Windows 8.1, an update due later this year that aims to address some of the criticisms in the first release. Microsoft also announced that Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 for ARM-based processors, will soon include the Outlook email application.
IDG caught up with Parker after his keynote and had a chance to ask him a few questions. Following is an edited transcript:
IDG: So you just announced you'll be including Outlook with the next version of Windows RT, what was the thinking behind that?
NP: Outlook is one of those apps people love, and when you start thinking about RT in the small business environment, or for heavy email users, Outlook is one of those high value solutions. That was the one we got the most feedback about.
IDG: The reception for Windows RT has been a bit lukewarm, what are some of the reasons for that and to what extent will adding Outlook will improve the situation?
NP: If you look at what we did with RT — it's completely new silicon, a new hardware platform, and Windows 8 is a new OS. So first you just have a natural growth curve when you're starting at zero. Then you start seeing new apps appear, the killer apps that people want, like Outlook. And the ecosystem gets more familiar with it — they learn how to code to it and how to certify parts for it.
We get so used to the tremendous success we've had on PCs for years, you just think you can flip a switch and the platform's going to change. I think it's just the incremental growth of a new platform. And we should be a bit humble about how we go to market and talk about the new capabilities. I think we could maybe have inspired people a bit more with some of the RT devices and some of our marketing.
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