Operating systems

Apple OS X Snow Leopard to support Microsoft Exchange

Among various interface and technology improvements, the version of Apple OS X, dubbed Snow Leopard, will support Microsoft Exchange within Mail, iCal, and Address Book. Will built-in Exchange support make your organization more likely to deploy Macs?

Credit: James Martin/CNET

I've been using a MacBook Pro as my primary work machine for several years and have been generally pleased with the experience. Yet, OS X has one glarring shortfall--lack of native support for Microsoft Exchange.

Sure, you can access Exchange through Entourage. But, I've found the process combersome and not always what it should be. I'm happy to see that Apple has decided to incorporate Exchange support into the next version of OS X, dubbed Snow Leopard.

At the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, Bertrand Serlet, Senior Vice president of Software Engineering, presented a demonstration of Snow Leopard. Among various interface and technology improvements, the new OS will support Microsoft Exchange within Mail, iCal, and Address Book. According to CNET's Erica Ogg, who was live blogging from the WWDC keynote:

"Exchange to-dos, folders, and e-mails appear within Mail. You can also preview docs or spreadsheets using MS Office inside Mail even if you don't have MS Office installed. iCal and AddressBook show integrated persona and Exchange calendars and contacts. The most requested feature was the ability to schedule using availability information, Federighi says. You can now do that by searching address lists and calendars."

I'm glad to see Apple has included Exchange support, but I'll hold off celebrating just yet. Who knows how well the synchronization is going to work? When I edit/update meeting requests from an application other than Outlook, something nearly always goes wrong. Here's hoping Snow Leopard will solve this problem.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

19 comments
ITGrouch
ITGrouch

back in the OS 8-9 days, but, for whatever reasons, chose not to port it over to OS X. It worked really well and we never had any issues. Now we are saddled with a buggy Entourage that never has worked well. We plan on testing Exchange compatiblility with Snow Leopard. It could not be any worse than Entourage. If only if Microsoft had ported over the Outlook Client for Macintosh, we would not be having this discussion.

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

One thing that you overlooked mentioning in the article is that you must be running Microsoft Exchange 2007 for the native support to work. And a number of the older Mac OS clients have severe issues with Exchange 2007's requirement that POP and IMAP connections be made to the Exchange communication servers. That often causes support departments to have to upgrade their Entourage versions and reconfigure each and every MAC client. The issue becomes even more complicated if you are using a mail archiving or a knowledge management product, as most of those applications simply do not work with MACs - Symantec's Enterprise Vault is a great example. I am sure Apple is rushing to stay current with Microsoft, but I am less than impressed with their compatibility with Exchange.

keith.rosenberg
keith.rosenberg

My company uses software that cannot be run on the MAC OS and so we cannot use MACs.

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

Many of our employees have Macs at home and some even have the iPhone for their business phone, however, we have applications that require Windows, so a switch to Mac is unlikely. Exchange support makes no difference for us since our company doesn't use exchange.

dave the IT guy
dave the IT guy

deploying Macs into an organization is a much bigger deal than getting them to talk to servers. We have a standardized desktop we use so that our global helpdesk knows the base hardware and software config on all client systems. Adding Macs to the environment at this point will create a huge disruption in our support organization. I don't think we are alone in this...

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

Being as I am the only one in my business using a Mac, I would hate rolling it. I am not a big fan of it, really. Besides, we have too many propriety applications that don't even support anything higher than XP, much less alternative OS's. i would roll out Linux before Macs, anyway.

dean_bullock
dean_bullock

This will be a great step towards using a Mac full time but how will other things like WebEx tie in with Entourage as it does with Outlook? This is one of the reasons i dont use my Mac full time. Just a thought.

brandon_craig20
brandon_craig20

Sounds good, but not plausible. Would have to have more MAC trained staff and the initial cost is to much at the present time. Also go along with everyone else here that a lot of proprietary apps only work on Windows PC's so switching over isn't even a choice. Let macs stay at home which is enough trouble at times.

ITGrouch
ITGrouch

If you have a Intel processor based Mac, you can install Windows XP and Vista on the Macintosh platform. Your users could even run Windows inside OS X on the Mac using Parallels or VMWare Fusion virtual machines. There are many possiblilities now, so you can have the best of both worlds on one computer.

jcooper24
jcooper24

Agreed deploying Macs into an organization can be a big deal but only if it's not approached whilst looking at the bigger picture. There are some excellent Windows Server tools out there such as Centrify that make providing a standardized desktop and rolling out software packages to OS X desktops an absolute dream for Windows server based IT teams. With the right management tools installed on a Windows based server my opinion is that Macs are able to provide an excellent, stable and secure desktop alternative to Windows. Trust me roll out Macs as a desktop solution and your helpdesk calls will reduce radically! (Well at least they will after all the Windows users get used to using a Mac!)

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Many Mac users have a negative opinion of Entourage, many speculating that it works less-well than Outlook (having never used it.) But as somebody that's put in a lot of time on both apps, I can tell you--its not totally Entourage's fault that it works poorly. Entourage is a "Mac version of Outlook" with a different name to make it look like the Mac is "different" but the truth is the user experience in Outlook has never been a picnic either. Outlook uses (occasionally leaks) RAM like its going out of style. It occasionally just... disconnects...for no good reason. PSTs just randomly become "corrupt" for no verifiable or valid reason. Sound familiar, Entourage people? This is what I think is happening: Exchange Server administration isn't a skill that divinely gleaned--it requires experience and learning and a "genuine-desire-to-constantly-improve" to work well. Don't write off 100% of your disappointment to Entourage itself--don't forget many mail admins have all 500 users in one database on one or two disk-drives, not enough RAM on-board the server, doing spam-control internally (as opposed to at their external MX, where it should be done) and all of these factors can contribute significantly to bad performance on the server, which also translates to bad performance on the client. When you factor in the overall bad-design of Outlook/Entourage and the long-term performance impact of an under-powered and over-burdened server, users are inherently at a disadvantage and somewhat likely to be disappointed with the experience.

jcooper24
jcooper24

It would be interesting to hear what proprietary apps only work on Windows, and have no Mac OS alternative. Take also into consideration more and more apps are moving towards a Web based interface. With regards to expense for training and roll out, well yes times are moving on, there will always be costs for training etc it's just which way does the money go? We've had pretty much the same desktop experience for 15 years! The message I hear from almost every user I talk to is they want something reliable and easy to use that does the job, but they also want change... to feel like technology and they're company working for is moving forward with the times. In terms of Macs being used in the home.. why is that? It's because they're low maintenance and they simply get the job done.. there are alot of users out there who are asking why can't they expect the same from their company desktop.

ITGrouch
ITGrouch

Please read my post about running Windows on Intel based Macs. And supporting Macs in your environment is not as difficult as you might think. People need to get past the bias and old thinking out of the way regarding Macs.

rickky
rickky

Sorry, but I just don't see using 2 OS on a computer. Unfortunately most of our software is not MAC compatible so there is no good reason to buy a computer to then install XP or Vista so you can do your work when you could have just bought a PC to begin with. Why make it more difficult than it has to be. The only situation I see MACs used in the environment is when it will be performing a specific job that will be done at a station where there is no need for running the regular company software.

corcorac
corcorac

Why would I pay 2 to 3 times more for a MAC, then boot out of theOS and into Windows to do my work. Why would I put my users into that scenario? Seems like a lose lose situation

ITGrouch
ITGrouch

ITA with what you are saying.

ITGrouch
ITGrouch

If you read my response to corcorac, I said the exact same thing you pointed out. If you are buying a computer and do not have the need for a Mac, then buy a Windows based computer. If you already have a Mac and want to run Windows applications, why purchase another computer? Just purchase a copy of Windows, boot to it or run it as a virtual machine inside OS X. As for running two operating systems on one computer, there are lots of people doing this, on the Mac and Windows platform.

ITGrouch
ITGrouch

you have Mac clients and they need to be able to use Windows only applications or you want to add Macs to your environment. Do not forget about using Parallels or VMWare Fusion, then you do not have to boot into the Windows OS. Except for the dreadful Entourage email, Office 2008 for the Mac is hands-down better than Office 2007 on Windows. I will agree with you if you do not have the need for Macs in your environment, then standard Windows PC's are the way to go.

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