There was a time when a new version of Outlook for Macintosh would have been big and welcome news. Now, it and the rest of Office for Mac 2010 are a big yawn. With Apple poised to finally make its own Mail, iCal, and Address Book fully compatible with Exchange servers, who needs Outlook?
For a decade, Mac users who needed access to Microsoft Exchange servers were given a truly second-class client, Entourage, to do it with. It has been part of MacOffice since 2000.
Many Mac users simply gave up, choosing Outlook Web Access over Exchange. That's what I did for a while.
At any time, Microsoft could have created a real Outlook for Mac, fully Exchange-compatible, but chose not to, apparently hoping the lack of tight Entourage support would hobble the Apple platform. And it did.
So, Apple began developing replacement programs--Mail, iCal, and Address Book--that despite their success never reached full Exchange compatibility. That is, until the release of the new Snow Leopard OS. In a matter of weeks, Macs should become full players on Exchange-based e-mail systems.
That--not the new Outlook--should be the big news.
Macintoshes should be much more common business desktops than they are. The lack of full support for Microsoft's standard mail and calendaring platform has certainly played a part in that lack of acceptance.
In my home office, I killed the Exchange Server rather that try to use it with the Macs. That, in turn, led me to make the Macs the primary business machines and assign the Windows boxes to the peripheral status the Macs previously enjoyed.
Since turning off Exchange, the built-in Mac Mail, Address Book, and iCal, used with MobileMe for synching, have done everything I need. Toss in the iPhone and I am a happy camper with e-mail, calendar, and contacts always in sync wherever I go.
That Snow Leopard is supposed to make these apps fully Exchange-compatible barely matters to me anymore. But, it will be important to people in Exchange-centric organizations who may finally be free to select the PC they really want.
The ship date for Snow Leopard--apparently coming very soon--should be a liberation day for would-be corporate Mac users who can finally play on the Exchange server with everyone else.
Microsoft finally releasing a new Outlook for Macintosh next year is about 10 years too late and only underscores the real malice Redmond has towards Mac.