While certainly some time has passed since I last posted on the Entourage weblog, that does not mean myself and the rest of the Entourage team has been idle. Instead, I am excited to announce the release of yet another set of new, free features for Entourage 2004 users: Sync Services, Spotlight, and smart card support! You can download the new update from Microsoft.com/Mac and give it a whirl.

All of these features build upon some exciting technologies introduced in Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger). Since 10.4’s initial release, we’ve been working alongside Apple to insure that Entourage users could take advantage of all these features. These efforts were done alongside the development of SP2 (released earlier this year) and the next version of Mac Office (including Universal Binary support for Intel Macs).

Sync Services
Entourage is now a first-class sync client within the Mac OS. Your contacts may now show up within Apple’s Address Book, your events and tasks within iCal, and all Entourage information is available both for .Mac synchronization as well as iSync for quick access on your mobile devices. I’ve been synchronizing with my Sony Ericsson W800 (Tiger skinned) using Bluetooth and iSync since early in development.

I’ll be the first to admit that searching within in Entourage is slow. Painfully slow. However, Apple’s Spotlight is blazing fast. With this release, Entourage data is now available for indexing by Spotlight. Your mail messages, contacts, events, notes, and tasks are all possible results within Spotlight searches and the Finder’s Smart Folders.

We’ve also provided a large amount of metadata to Spotlight, so you can do useful things like create a Smart Folder that shows all Entourage items within a category (in the Finder, create a new Smart Folder, select “Keywords”, as the criteria, and enter the name of your category). There are a ton of possibilities here… I’ll try to explore some more of these within future blog posts.

Smart cards
Mac OS 10.4 supports smart cards for signing, decrypting, and encrypting e-mail messages through the Keychain. This update improves interoperability of Entourage with the Keychain such that smart card based Keychain entries are accessible by Entourage.

Stay Tuned...
With this release, I've now got a bit more time to post regularly. In addition to discussion of these new features, I've received many requests from blog readers on additional topics to cover. I plan to do so soon! There's also a strong possibility that additional members of the Entourage team may post some messages here. So, again, stay tuned...

- Andy Ruff