Microsoft to upgrade Office for Macs; to offer access to Exchange support

“Microsoft is set to offer this summer a long-awaited upgrade to the Macintosh version of its Office suite. The update will give Mac customers access to corporate calendar and contact information stored on a server running the software giant’s Exchange software.

Mac users have been clamoring for a way to access information from a Microsoft Exchange server under Mac OS X for some time. Office 2001, the Mac OS 9 program, allowed Exchange access, but the feature was not part of the Office v. X for Mac OS X, the version that debuted in November 2001.

Microsoft offered several cumbersome workarounds to allow Mac OS X users to get access to Exchange information. The Redmond, Wash., company also has a Web client of Outlook that can access Exchange information via a Web browser. Microsoft suggested customers might want to remotely access a PC that was running the Windows version of Office to get address book and calendar information from an Exchange server. E-mail from an Exchange server can be downloaded by many mail programs because Exchange supports various e-mail standards.

For more than a year, Microsoft said it was studying the issue of how to add Exchange support–whether to update its Outlook for the Mac program or add Exchange access into Entourage, the e-mail, calendar and contact program that is part of the Mac OS X Office suite.

The software giant eventually concluded that updating Entourage was the most efficient and timely approach, said Jessica Sommer, product manager,” reports Ian Fried, Special to ZDNet News. More here.

“The single most popular request we’ve heard since launching Office v. X is that our customers need an Exchange solution for Mac OS X, and we’re ecstatic to begin satisfying that need through the most popular PIM on the Mac platform,” said Tim McDonough, director of marketing and business development for the MacBU at Microsoft. “We recognize that many of our customers use Exchange for their server-side communications and need a solution that’s made specifically for Mac OS X. By building the Exchange solution into Entourage X, we’re giving users of Mac core Exchange functionality and cross-platform compatibility in an e-mail client designed to meet their needs.”

The solution will be available in English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish and Swedish in summer 2003 and will be compatible with versions of Exchange 2000 and higher. Outlook 2001 for Mac will continue to be the Exchange solution for users of Mac OS 9.

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