Service Pack 2 is primarily focused on delivering improved support for using Entourage as an Exchange client.  Beyond Exchange, we did fix a fair number of bugs as well as  (you can read about some more commonly known bugs that we addressed in the Read Me).  For now, I'm going to focus primarily on what we did to improve the Exchange experience:

Improved sync speeds
What used to take hours, now takes minutes.  Prior to SP2, synchronizing an Exchange mailbox took incredibly long and the prioritization of folders always seemed a bit awkward.  We did a lot of work to change the way the app synchronizes folders and gave a higher priority to folders often seen as critical (e.g. the Inbox).  In addition to a lot of general network performance enhancements, we finally hooked-up the Send and Receive All button to Exchange, allowing you to quickly force a sync with the currently viewed folder, calendar, or address book and your Inbox.

Multiple Calendars and Address Books
In Entourage 2004, your Exchange calendar was your calendar, your Exchange address book was your address book.  There was no way to organize an offline, personal calendar or have multiple calendars on the Exchange server.  Furthermore, if you used Entourage to access another user's Exchange calendar, we synched them into your calendar and tagged them with a special category.

No more!  Your Exchange and personal calendars and address books now live separately.  You may now have more than one Exchange calendar and address book.  When you access other's calendars and address books, they live separately.  When you open a public folder that is a calendar (also new in SP2), it appears separately.  No more merged data.  You now have complete control over where your data sits with far less confusing views of the data.

Global Address List Enhancements
You can now view organizational data (direct reports, managers), group membership, and a bevy of other Active Directory attributes.  If you're organization is using Windows 2003 Server, you can even browse the entire contents of your corporate directory.

Improved Public Folders
Sadly, we heard from customers that using Public Folders in Entourage 2004 took as long as nine to ten hours for the entire public folder hierarchy to download!  It was a miserable experience.  SP2 fixes this, as you can now traverse the public folder hierarchy quickly, view the contents of a folder, subscribe to a folder for offline syncs, and even post messages directly within a folder.  As Entourage now supports multiple calendars and address books, you may now view and contribute to calendar and address book public folders.

Sharing Folders, Calendars, and Address Books
You can now assign permissions on Exchange folders, calendars, and address books so that others may access such folders.  This works great for collaboration needs such as sharing calendars among coworkers.  Just select Sharing from a folder's contextual menu.  The interface is very similar to Outlooks, so you may be able to find documentation within your organization describing how to share a folder using Windows Outlook--it should work for Entourage as well!

If someone shares their calendar with you, you may quickly access it via File : Open Other User's Folder... and typing in the coworkers name.  As mentioned before, the calendar is no longer merged with your own. In addition to assigning permissions and quick access to others' folders, we made a couple related enhancements:

Enforcing permissions - Before now, you might put a message into a delegated folder and a few minutes later it'd disappear and a Permission Denied error would display in the Entourage Error Log.  SP2 is proactive about permissions, we now enforce permissions in Entourage's user interface--actions that you aren't able to perform our disabled or prevented.  You receive a notification if you try to perform something you are not allowed to do.

Private Items - When sharing your address books or calendars, you might want to note certain contacts or events to be visible to others.  You may now mark these items as Private within Entourage to prevent others from seeing their contents.  In addition, if you are synchronizing someone else's calendar with Entourage and an event is private, it will display in the calendar but you will be unable to read the event's details (before SP2, you never even saw the event, making it really hard to schedule a get together if some hidden event occurred at your proposed time).

Full Delegation
In Entourage 2004, you could configure yourself as a delegate of others.  With SP2, you can be the boss! You may now assign permissions on your account for delegates to access as well as grant send-on-behalf rights and automatically forward meeting invites to a delegate.

Conversation Grouping
Outlook has a very handy feature that lets you track your e-mail based on conversations with replies to messages in a thread displaying right next to the messages they replied to.  Entourage now supports both generating the appropriate headers so that Entourage users can continue the threads for Outlook users, but it will also sort messages based on these values.

Password Expiration
Entourage 2004 with an expired password was a nightmare. You'd launch Entourage and it would just sit there, not receiving any new e-mail and have no clue why.  With SP2, you'll now get notified of upcoming password expirations so that you might be able to take action before you find yourself in this odd, e-mail-less state.

Mailbox Quotas
You may now quickly determine how much space your Exchange account occupies on the server. Prior to SP2, you'd receive a notification that your Exchange mailbox was full but have no way of determining the best manner for opening up space by deleting or moving messages.  Now, all you have to do is select a folder, open the Folder Properties dialog, and click the Storage tab.

There's one very cool, simple Entourage-only feature related to mailbox quotas that isn't available in Outlook.  In Outlook, when you retrieve a list of all the folders in your Exchange mailbox, you have to hunt through the list to determine which folders occupy the most space on the server.  With Entourage, you can actually sort the folders based on how much space they occupy on the server.  Thus, it becomes incredibly easy to find out which folder is causing you to overstep your mailbox quota and address the problem.  It's a very subtle difference, but we hope that Entourage users will find it useful!

Stay Tuned...
The above list is merely a briefing of what's new with Entourage SP2's enhanced Exchange capabilities (I skipped over a ton of details).  In future posts, I'll be digging deep into the geeky details of our Exchange's Exchange capabilities, highlighting our SP2 changes, and doing my best to provide you with information that might aid in deploying Entourage within your organization. If you have a particular topic you're interested in, please post in comments.

- Andy (andyleeruff@hotmail.com)