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The MacBU beta trifecta: Entourage Exchange Web Services, Messenger, and Document Collaboration Companion

The MacBU beta trifecta: Entourage Exchange Web Services, Messenger, and Document Collaboration Companion

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Just before the holidays, we announced that we're releasing a public beta of Messenger:Mac that includes AV support on the personal side. Yesterday, we completed our trifecta of MacBU betas: Entourage Exchange Web Services (EWS) and Document Collaboration Companion.

Last week, I mentioned that I've been dogfooding [redacted] for months. [redacted] referred to Entourage EWS. I've been living in it the second that our daily builds began to work against my Exchange server. The reason that I was chomping at the bit to switch to it is performance. For Entourage 2008 to connect to an Exchange server, it uses WebDAV for most things. (There's some things that use EWS, such as OOF.) When communicating via WebDAV, Entourage needs to send out up to six instructions. When communicating the same thing via EWS, it's one. Working with my Exchange 2007 server is faster. It also gives us access to more Exchange features than we could get via WebDAV, so Entourage now syncs better. It's faster, it's more reliable, and (oh yes!) my tasks, notes, and categories sync to Exchange. It's just fantastic. I've been using it for months, watching more and more Exchange features take shape. We're putting the finishing touches on the beta right now.

The final third of our beta trifecta will come in the form of the Document Collaboration Companion (DCC). DCC is a standalone app that better enables Mac users to work with documents stored in SharePoint and Office Live Workspaces. This app has been one of my main focus points lately, so I'm looking forward to it getting out into our users' hands. Oh, and DCC is totally Cocoa, which my inner (or maybe not-so-inner) Mac geek adores.

Those of you who attended my collaboration talk on Monday at our Power Tools session know that collaboration is near and dear to my heart. From my perspective, that's what all three of these betas are about, so I'm quite happy to see them getting close to being in your hands. Entourage EWS will be the first one to make it into your hands. If you're on an Exchange 2007 server, you should switch over to it as soon as humanly possible. (If you're on Exchange 2003 or earlier, you cannot use Entourage EWS. If you're using Entourage only with POP or IMAP, there's no reason for you to use the beta. We've only made changes to our back-end Exchange code.)

There's more talk about our announcements out there. Here's Macworld's article (including some quotes from our fearless leader), and here's the official press release.

Edit, 20 January 2008, 11:57am: The public beta for Entourage EWS is live now.

Edited on 17 August 2009: The final version of Entourage for Web Services is now available, so you should update!

  • Great news! Missing support for Exchange Categories, Tasks and Notes was -the- reason for me not to use Entourage. I will give it another shot. Thanks for the update!

  • "DCC is a standalone app that better enables Mac users to work with documents stored in SharePoint and Office Live Workspaces."

    If this is the case, it would turn Microsoft Live for Small Business into a tool I can actually use.

    Keeping my fingers crossed . . .

  • Oh, Scotty, I was wondering when you would start to trot out the conspiracy theories.  It's especially amusing that you bring up an interview from a year ago that asks about several features that we have now delivered in the beta.  

    But, to answer your little questions:

    1. Given that I'm not Steve Ballmer, I can't speak for him.  Looking at that statement at face value, I see no reason to disagree with him, nor any reason to get upset.  It's an accurate statement that Office for Windows includes applications that are not a part of Office:Mac.  

    2. I'm going to answer this question, but you're not going to believe me 'cause you're firmly convinced of your little conspiracy theory.  But I'll waste the bits anyway.  There is no directive, either express or implied.  

    We're the oldest, and largest, all-Mac development shop outside of Apple themselves.  We've been developing through this platform since the very beginning.  We've got several people on our team, including much of our senior leadership, who have done nothing but Mac development for their entire careers.  

  • If you are going to discount that apcmag article, then tell us when server-based rules will be accessible in Entourage.  Tell us when Entourage will be able to work in online-only mode so it no longer fills Mac users hard drives with cached data.  That question was asked in the article.

    So you finally got Exchange notes and tasks available in Entourage.  Does that mean an Entourage user now has to wait for these items to be cached to the Mac hard drive, in addition to other people's shared calendars that he accesses, other people's shared contacts that he accesses, other people's shared mail folders that he accesses, as well as all of his own mail folders?

    Your response "talk to your account rep" is just being obtuse.  Are you really going to claim that you have never seen complaints about how Entourage's excessive caching ties up the network and eats up disk space on the Mac's hard drive?  Or that when people use Entourage, they can't access rules on the server like they can in Outlook?  Or that people want native support for reading and writing PST files in Entourage, rather than having to wait for the incredibly slow PST Import Tool?

  • I have read other Mac BU developers get defensive about Entourage.  They say things like "we're working on Entourage", "cut us some slack"...  But they just don't get it.  Nobody asked for Entourage in the first place.  What Mac users really wanted was for Outlook to be updated for OS X, and now for Intel Macs.  We want a native Mac OS X application that is built from the ground up for total Exchange client functionality.  But instead, we have spent the past 8 years waiting for Exchange client features to be slowly reverse engineered into Entourage.  And to this day, there are features in Outlook 2001 for Mac that are still not available in Entourage.  If you had spent all those years updating Outlook for Mac instead of wandering the desert with Entourage, we would have a much more functional Mac Exchange client today.  Yet you get defensive about Entourage when Mac users complain.  Sorry, but you lost that right a long time ago.

  • Under NDA, your account rep can share more details about our future plans than I can share in the comments to a blog post.  You can choose to view that as obtuse if you wish, but the reality of the situation is quite different.  

    Adding features is something that doesn't happen overnight.  We prioritise adding features based on customer feedback, as well as the cost of implementing such features.  Improved syncing of various items with Exchange bubbled higher to our priority list than other requests, such as your top complaints of server-side rules and offline mode.  At this time, all I can tell you is that they're not a part of the beta; I can't comment on whether they'll be available in a future version.  

    You can complain here if you wish, but if your goal is to ensure that your feedback about the Exchange features your company needs the most is in the hands of the decision-makers, comments on my blog aren't very effective.  There's a huge difference between me saying in a meeting "so there's this guy on my blog who's always going off about offline mode" and an account rep coming to us and saying "there's a customer with x Mac users and $y in service contracts who has these needs".  

  • Who's being defensive?  You're asking whether there's some kind of conspiracy.  If you want to have a real conversation about our future support for Exchange features, there's a couple of roads to take:

    1. Ask reasonable questions.  Your question about offline support and server-side rules are reasonable questions.  Your question about some kind of conspiracy is not reasonable.

    2. Ask your questions about the future in a venue where they can be answered, and by someone who can answer them.  I can't answer your questions, but I pointed you towards someone who can answer your questions -- that's your Microsoft account rep.  There are details that can be shared under NDA which I can't talk about here.  

    Now, if you just want to complain and crack insults, that's great, but if you do that, then you lose the right to complain about tone in responses to you.

  • Nadyne... this is really terrific news, but 2009 is a year, not a "date", thus very vague to announce a release with that much excitement.

    Please give us a clue about -at least- in which quarter Messenger beta is estimated to see the day of light. I can´t believe you (or the one in charge of it) doesn´t have the slightest idea if it´s gonna happen in march or december...


  • You're right, it's very vague.  Our beta has a huge number of external dependencies, most importantly the ongoing Windows Live Messenger beta.  If something happens with one of those dependencies, our dates are impacted; if something happens with more than one of those, then the effect on us is multiplied.  As a result, I don't have anything more to share yet.  

  • Thanks for such a quick answer, Nadyne.

    I understand it´s very complicated, but I guess there´s a "#1 Messenger guy" to whom every dependency reports to and has to know if it the estimated (or at least desired) time is very soon/soon/not soon... right?

    I´m not (very) dumb and I know the chances that "soon" or "very soon" are minimal, as if they were like that you´d already told us... but I take the chance nevertheless...


  • The problem is the potential delta between desired time to make the beta available and the real time that we can make the beta available.  If it were just internal dependencies, we'd be able to talk about that better, 'cause those are things that we can control.  But with so many external dependencies, all of which are outside our control, we can't give more details yet.  

    The very second that I can give more details, I will -- the Messenger:Mac team wants to get our beta out the door just as much as you want to try it out.

  • I just published a new post at Mac Mojo

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