I’ve been using Microsoft Entourage 2008 for 13 days. Initially, I was disappointed with its lack of key Exchange support over the 2004 release. I don’t know what you need. But I need task and note synchronization with Exchange server. When I purchased Mac Office 2008 and discovered its limited Exchange support, I got pretty upset.
In my view, Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit (MacBU) has been very evasive about Exchange support in Entourage 2008. During development, they fed us bits and pieces about Entourage, but were pretty mum about Exchange support. How many years has it been since the last release of Office – humm…4? Wouldn’t you think that they’d listen and release 2008 with Exchange support on parity with Outlook? The answer that I found is no. To add more salt to this wound – the MacBU is charging extra money for Office with Entourage over its 2004 packaging. Right after Mac Office 2008’s release, a lot of users made the same discovery that I did and many were pissed off.
I went looking in the Mac user forums for some explanation, some information on how I could get task and note sync. Brave Andy Ruff, Microsoft’s MacBU Lead Program Manager for Entourage, has been active in the forums. I sent him an email voicing my concerns hoping that Microsoft would come clean and explain itself. You know – why didn’t you do what everyone was asking for? Brave Andy answered my email and gave an explanation. Now, you may not know it, but I used to work for Microsoft when most people considered it a very cool company. So, I can understand Andy’s reply. Here’s our dialog:
Ian: “I'm looking for task and notes sync with Exchange - like all Mac/Exchange users. It's really frustrating to wait for release to find out that it's not included in Entourage 2008. The MacBU has been incredibly vague about Exchange support. From my viewpoint, and as an ex-MSFT employee, you guys really missed the mark with this release. Full exchange support should have been on the top of the list. At least, help us better understand why we don't have it now, and if we can ever expect it.”
Andy: “I agree that these are top demands from customers and we do intend to deliver them to the product. As I stated on the forums, we’ve added dozens of new Exchange features to Entourage in the last few years as regular, free updates to the product. We had a quality and reliability issue as a result of adding so much to the app. For 2008, we stepped-back and focused on solidifying the app, making things work as you’d expect, so that, in future releases, what you get is reliable. While we could have checked-off more features in a list, we want to bring the functionality in a way that truly works.”
Ian: “Thanks for the reply. I understand that you are balancing many priorities with Entourage. But, I find myself saying, “yes, but.”
“As a Windows, Windows Mobile, Exchange and Mac user, I feel that my Exchange data (tasks 1st, notes a distant second) is land-locked on the Windows platform. Entourage is the only reasonable client for Mac/Exchange integration. So, how do I get my tasks sync’d across all of my devices and PCs? I was hoping that you’d do it for me. You didn’t. Like many users, I’ve been waiting a long time to get this fixed.”
“The missing info is - how much longer do I have to wait to get parity with Outlook in terms of sync services (read that as tasks 1st, notes whenever)? Can you offer any guidance? A lot of us want to know.”
Andy: “Totally understand the “yes, but.” I’d love to knock-off that last part and just make it, “yes!” and that’s pretty much our primary goal. You will see the results of our work, just this wasn’t the time yet. We’re not sharing the timeframe right now, but we will in the future.”
So, that’s that and we can expect improved Exchange support at sometime in the future. Humm…am I any happier now? To be honest, a bit. The new Entourage client is very nice. It looks good and works very well. Its interface is clean. Its performance is good. Its searches are fast. I do miss the drag and drop capabilities that I take for granted in Outlook. But it’s so greatly improved over the 2004 release. Now, MacBU, please, please, please…get us task and note sync as soon as you can.
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