Microsoft brings Exchange support to Entourage X

Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday it will be updating its Entourage X software package to allow for its Exchange server to communicate with the Mac OS X.

This means that Macs, made by Apple Computer Corp., will be better able to communicate with their PC counterparts in the enterprise, facilitating the co-ordination of meetings and appointments and e-mail.

Entourage X is a personal information manager (PIM) that combines e-mail, calendar, address book and task capabilities in one program that is included with Microsoft Office X or is available as a stand-alone product. Right now there is no way for users to access the Exchange server when using Mac OS X.

Microsoft said in a statement that providing support for Exchange was the biggest request it received in regards to Office X.

Exchange support is available for Mac OS 9 through Microsoft Outlook as part of Microsoft’s Office 2001 for Mac, but the same functionality was not built into Microsoft Office v. X for Mac OS X.

“Probably the big thing I’d say people want is group scheduling and calendaring so they can go and set up meetings, invite people to meetings and keep their calendar on the server so they can access it from other machines,” said Peter Pawlak, lead analyst, server applications at Directions On Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wash.

He added that by giving the Mac OS X access to the Exchange server, users who use a Mac at their regular desk would gain the ability to check their e-mail or schedule from any other machine on the network.

“[Office 2001 for Mac] didn’t really run well on OS 10, so what they’re doing is taking Entourage – which formerly didn’t have any Exchange functionality – and sort of meld the two together. And this way it sort of gives them the best of two worlds. (Users) get Entourage, which is a much better program, and the Exchange connectivity,” Pawlak said, adding that Entourage has a similar look and feel to the Mac platform.

However, according to Pawlak, Apple computers don’t have a corporate e-mail program anymore and are thus dependent on standards-based programs like simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) or something like Exchange, which has a lot more functionality.

The update of Exchange X will be available in the third quarter of 2003 as a download in English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish and Swedish and will be compatible versions of Exchange 2000 or higher.

Entourage X is currently available as a stand-alone product and costs US$99, and is also available as part of Microsoft Office v. X for Mac productivity suite.

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