Entourage 2008 – Still a Second-Class Exchange Citizen?

Microsoft has posted a sneak peek site for Office 2008. After viewing the movies I can say that I am underwhelmed. Office 2008 on the Mac looks more mac-like. There is extensive use of templates. Graphics become easier to work with. The new Office 2008 interface reminds me in many ways of the iWeb interface. To see some early screen shots, cruise over to The Unofficial Apple Weblog.

When it comes to Entourage, there were no screen shots at the TUAW site. A look at the very low resolution movie provided at the sneak peek site, doesn’t reveal much. The interface has been rearranged, but there isn’t any indication of any substantial new features, The only really new thing being shown is a desktop “widget” called “My Day”. My Day has the look of a Windows Mobile PDA and allows you to navigate and view the calendar and tasks without opening Entourage.

Entourage 2008 Sneak Peek

According to Mac News Network, it appears that to take advantage of some of the features of Entourage 2008, you will need an Exchange 2007 server. Entourage will connect to the Exchange server via web services. That will be good news for many Exchange administrators who struggle with Exchange’s current faulty implementation of WebDAV, which is what Entourage 2004 uses.

The folks over at MacWindows.com said that a Microsoft spokesperson acknowledged that Entourage 2008 would not have the functionality of Outlook for Windows. The folks over at Exchangepedia Blog note that there is still no capability to schedule resources, and no support for the MAPI protocol.

Alas, no improvement to Entourage tasks is on the horizon. The biggest thing that Microsoft has been touting is the Out of Office feature. OK, I mean really, is that the biggest thing that they have to say? There are many things I’ve missed in using Entourage. I can confidently say that out of office was not one of them. I can’t imagine why that would be the first thing they announce.

All of this taken together makes it seem that Entourage will still be a very second class citizen when it comes to Exchange. Perhaps that is Microsoft’s strategy to continue to control the desktop market. If they made a real Exchange client for the Mac, why would we need Windows?

My team supports 35 Mac users in a mixed environment that includes 300+ Windows desktops. We refuse to treat our Mac users as second-class citizens. Because of the lack of features in Entourage and the lack of support for other collaboration clients in Exchange, we are now looking at Kerio Mail Server. It appears that Kerio Mail Server will support all of our users equally.


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