Got a question? Go ahead and ask me. There are some questions I can't answer because they're under NDA or because I don't know, but I'll at least tell you that I can't answer your question. Some questions will be answered in the comments. If I find myself writing a lot in response to your question, I'll write a new post.
If you don't ask your question this week (which is to say, the week of 19 November 2007), I don't promise an answer. Life is going to be busy over the next few months. I do this whenever I've got a quiet week in the office, which tends to mean that it happens around US holidays.
I found myself writing a lot in response to this question, so it gets its own post. The question is:
Will there ever be MAPI support in ANY of the Mac:office suite, EVER?
I'm going to answer a different question, which is, 'will Entourage ever have full Exchange compatibility?' Our goal is to consistently improve our Exchange support for our corporate users. Remember, here in MacBU, we're both Entourage and Exchange users as well, so we sharply feel the Exchange-related pain. We know we have feature gaps. Personally, I only use Entourage , so I feel every one of those feature gaps frequently.
We've made a lot of improvements in our Exchange support since the original launch of Entourage. The latest improvements that you can see are in Office 2004 SP2. That service pack brought better GAL support, improved delegation, password expiration (one of my favourite features, since I don't login to my Windows box often enough to know when my domain password is about to expire), and performance improvements. We've already announced that OOF support is finally coming to Entourage 2008.
What happens from here? Closing the feature gap is important to us. It'll make our customers happier with us, and it'll improve the productivity of MacBU in an app that we all use all day, every day. We're looking at our feature gaps and prioritising them. Which additions will have the biggest impact on our users? As we consider these questions, we're working with the Exchange team to ensure that we're on the same page as they are, and are considering the future plans for Exchange in our support so that the code that we write today is code that will continue to work with future versions of Exchange.
The reason that I didn't answer your question about MAPI is because you probably don't actually care which protocol we use to talk to the server. You care about having access to the features found in Exchange, regardless of what protocol is used to access those features.
 Well, I suppose that's not entirely true. I use OWA to check my email if I'm at home and didn't bring my laptop home.
Here in the States, the day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. Why? It's the day when retail businesses get into the black. Many stores open at 5am (although I'm hearing about some stores opening at midnight!), have extra early-bird specials between 5am and 7am, and then great deals for the rest of the day. I've long since lost count of the number of stories that I've heard about people being trampled during Black Friday sales, which .
With the launch of Office 2008 just over the horizon, we're running a Super Suite Deal: buy any edition of Office 2004 (yes, that includes the ultra-inexpensive student edition), and you can upgrade to the most expensive edition of Office 2008 for just the cost of shipping.
But Black Friday is special, and so we're making the deal even sweeter (suiter?). Buy Office 2004 on Friday, 23 November 2007, and you can get an extra $100 mail-in rebate from us. You can combine this with the aforementioned Super Suite Deal, resulting in something pretty cool (not to mention cheap!). It's $150 for the student edition of Office 2004, minus the $100 rebate, plus $7 for shipping ... so a net cost of just under $60 for you to have any edition of Office 2008. Even better, this is a Black Friday Deal that you can take advantage of from the comfort of your home if you order online from your favourite online store, you don't have to risk getting trampled.
See you on Black Friday!
There are many models of software development, the two best-known being the waterfall method and the spiral model. The models of software development that I studied during my computer science degree don't really capture how software development actually works. One of the main downfalls is that they don't capture the nature of a mature software project. Working on a project that has a seemingly endless scope like Office does has been an educational experience for me. One of the lessons that I've been seeing more and more every day is that the team is never working on just one version of the software. As a mature software project, the team is working on at least three different versions of the software: the version currently available today, the version we're about to ship, and the version after that.
Most of the Office team is, predictably enough, working on Office 2008. The dev, test, and program management teams are all working with a ruthless focus on finding and squashing those last-minute bugs that inevitably crop up. While their focus is ruthless, it's not absolute. They're also putting in a bit of time fixing some issues in Office 2004 (as evinced by this week's update). As we come closer and closer to RTM , the code for Office 12 gets more and more locked down. If there's a chance of a bug fix causing a problem elsewhere, then the fix is a candidate for going into a future service pack. This way, we get more time to ensure that the fix addresses the problem it's supposed to address without breaking something elsewhere.
Some of the Office team has started working on the next version of Office. I'm one of those people, charting out the territory and reporting back to the team with recommendations for the course we should make. How can we better meet our users' needs? The intrepid early explorers are trying to answer that question.
The next learning experience for me is going to come as I watch the team make the transition from working on Office 2008 to working on the next version. I've got a general idea of what happens next. The program managers start thinking about some specific things. The dev and test teams start doing some work under the covers to get the groundwork laid to really begin coding in earnest on the next version. On what day will I really feel like the team has made the transition from Office 2008 to the next version? Will I never be able to point to a single day because it is such a gradual process, or will it feel like the bit flipped on one particular day?
 RTM = release to manufacturing. Some companies call it GM (Golden Master). This is the date where the final bits are handed off to the folks that make the physical media that you buy. The next important date after RTM is GA (General Availablity), which is the date that you can walk into your friendly local Apple Store and buy the media. It takes a few weeks to create the media, which is why there's a delta between RTM and GA.
In the name of trying out other social networking stuff (I'm using twitter reasonably frequently), and because I'm on the road and not yet accustomed to the time zone that I'm currently in, I've finally signed up for Facebook. After a few minutes of poking around, I just figured out how to link to my profile.
What's your favourite thing to do with Facebook? What makes it compelling for you?
I can't believe I haven't posted these links yet!
One of the authors over at MSExchange.org has posted a pair of articles about accessing Exchange 2007 from your Mac: part one (covering Mail and OWA) and part two (covering Entourage 2004). The article features lots of screenshots, so it's a great walkthrough of getting set up with the latest version of Exchange.
For OOPSLA 2008, one of the goals of the conference is to re-think how industry should be involved with presenting content at the conference. Historically, the venues which have the highest industry involvement are practitioner reports and panels. As Development Co-Chair, I've been thinking about this question.
Lately, I’ve been focusing on the progression of an idea at OOPSLA. I don't think that we've done the best job at taking ideas from our research track and nurturing them in such a way that we see how it works when it makes it out into more widespread use in the industry.
One possible way for an idea to progress at OOPSLA is:
This isn't the only way that an idea could progress, of course. There doesn't have to be a poster, or you could add in a demo at some point in here. Or maybe it should continue on through a tutorial or workshop. And not all ideas should follow this kind of progression; their work ends up in use in other contexts. For example, I’m not sure that a paper about garbage collection would end up in there (well, unless the Xcode team wanted to submit a practitioner report that talks about adding garbage collection). Just as all research papers probably won’t end up in a development paper in the future, not all practitioner reports (or other submissions from industry) will start off from a research paper. I think that this is fine — there is room for expansion, room for growth.
My goal is to better provide a natural progression from research to industry. OOPSLA as a conference is uniquely positioned to provide that kind of natural progression.
There's now a OOPSLA 2008 group on Facebook. Come join us in Nashville next October!