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Q&A: MAPI support

Q&A: MAPI support

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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 [1], 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.


[1] 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.

Comments
  • Thanks Nadyne.

    You are somewhat correct in your 'no one cares about the protocol you use to talk back to the Exchange server'.  There are of course those few that directly related 'Full MAPI support' to 'Full Exchange support' which obviously isn't the case.  I wish M$ would decommission MAPI on the PC side as well and focus on WebDAV access via OWA like Entourage uses but I fear that is not happening anytime soon.  Supporting MAPI from a network and security point of view is challenging to say the least.

    What is really holding back Entourage support is

    - non native PST support

    - the proprietary database Entourage uses (I'm not saying move to PST)

    - the non Time Machine friendly database format

    - the 'hack' that is spotlight searching in Entourage

    - core features available in Outlook that are missing in Entourage

    the OOA was a big one so that will be nice to get back in Entourage.  It seems like its getting there but its been a long, painful road to say the least.  I think I speak for most of use when I say: If M$ truly cared about the enterprise they would be more concerned with offering a fully feature compliant version of Entourage (or Outlook) for platforms other than windows.  But their narrow view is that everyone runs windows anyways so they don't have to support Outlook on other platforms.  How sad it is...  So with iCal server in 10.5 server now, I have clients moving to that instead.  I really can't blame them - the cost alone is worth it and they are sick of dealing with Entourage poor performance and feature set.

    Peace out.

  • I personally feel more respect towards any web-based protocol over MAPI, which is overly complicated and too tied to Windows platform. I have one advantage right now over my Windows-based mates because I can access my mailbox from any place right away, while they have to have complex setups with RPC over HTTPS option or use VPN to dial into the corporate network.

    The major drawback of Entourage for me is that it gets buggy when it comes to using languages other than English. I constantly communicate with all parts of the world, and I get e-mails in different languages (even when I can't read some of them, like Chinese). Once in a while my replies are not readable, white spaces between words in the subject line are gone or are appended and the appointment date in the meeting invitation comes scrambled. Hope that will be solved in the upcoming release.

  • If spotlight in E'rage is a "hack", then take it up with Apple, it's how you get spotlight for Address Book.

    Databases are, no matter who makes them, backup unfriendly. Period. That's why you pay so much for backup agents for things like Oracle, DB2, Exchange, SQL Server etc.

  • I submit the following:

    "I'm going to answer a different question..."

    "so we sharply feel the Exchange-related pain.

    enough said.  move on

  • Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question by setting up a new blog entry for the topic.  I read your response and would like to ask a follow-up question.

    I am proceeding with a migration towards MacBook Pro replacements for older windows-based desktop and notebook equipment, eventually having all users run Mac.  Since I'm moving away from the Windows based Office software to one entirely based on Mac:Office 2008, I was hoping for Entourage '08 to become more robust in terms of the folder content supported in Exchange.

    We're running Exchange 2003 on the server.  All 75 of our users use the Tasks folders, Notes folders, and even some use the Journal folders.  Entourage doesn't "sync" those folders at all.  

    I guess the fact that I am not a developer makes me one of the "it should just work" crowd.  When I started looking at Mac before OS X, Outlook 2001 was available.  It supported MAPI.  I returned to research Mac in 2006 and figured Entourage 2004 would have been an improvement on Outlook 2001.  As a replacement to Outlook, Entourage not supporting MAPI didn't make sense to me.

    Does Entourage '08 have support for them?  I predict not, and that sucks.  Does Entourage 2008 + Exchange 2007 work to support these folder types?  If so, then I'm all for upgrading the server to 2007 if it means that my internal customers can continue to function the way they do now.

    Thank you,

    James

  • I'm sorry, but I can't answer a question about the specific feature set of Entourage 2008 at this time, other than what has already been announced in Mac Mojo and on the Office 2008 website.  More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks as we get closer to the launch of Office 2008.

    If you're coming to Macworld Expo in January, swing by the Microsoft booth and I (or another member of the Entourage team) can answer all of your Exchange questions (both Exchange 2003 and 2007).  In the interim, if you have a Microsoft account representative, talking to them will also be useful.

  • It's not so much MAPI that people are asking for, I think. At least, not MAPI for MAPI's sake.

    What a lot of Office 2004 (and potential Office 2008) users was out of Entourage is for it to be fully compatible with Outlook. Not Exchange, although technically the one implies with other. But with Outlook. As in a fully Exchange environment, unless all the clients are on Macs, we are interacting with the Exchange server to communicate with people doing Outlook things. So we need to be able to function in exactly the same way.

    Some of us are even lucky enough to have (or at least have access to) both platforms. Entourage *supports* Tasks, Notes and Categories. Yet they won't sync, meaning I can't get to a significant part of my mailbox's contents when I'm using the office Mac.

    We need Entourage to be full on-par with Outlook. In some ways, we really need it to *be* Outlook. Whether that means the same protocol or not is beyond my technical knowledge, but it's understandable why people are getting hung up on the MAPI issue. As it's one other difference between Entourage and Outlook, which is frustrating. Especially for those of us who really need to be able to do the same things (and even in teh same way) to our mailboxes regardless of what platform we're on at the time.

    It's not even that I'm, personally, anti-Entourage. Just it's basic functionality and availability make it out to be the Outlook-equivalent on the Mac platform. Which is sorely needed. And it just isn't.

  • Here's some good insight on a question we get all the time - "When will Entourage use MAPI?" http://blogs.msdn.com/nadyne/archive/2007/11/20/q-a-mapi-support.asp

  • Users often have a hard time articulating, or even noticing, issues that impact their experience.

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