Microsoft will include Outlook in its next version of Microsoft Office for Mac. Outlook will replace Entourage for Mac, the current e-mail application used by Mac users.
The software giant is releasing Outlook for Mac in its next version as a way to develop the Mac's product suite. The new version is slated to be released in time for the 2010 holiday season.
Microsoft developed Outlook for Mac in response to requests from enterprise users. The application is expected to enable individuals to be more productive across various platforms.
"It is an exciting time for the MacBU with updates to our current products and the first public announcement about the next version of Office for Mac," said Eric Wilfrid, general manager of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit. "Outlook for Mac will bring features our customers have long requested -- such as information rights management -- that make working across platforms even easier. I think people will see that this move to Outlook for Mac is more than just a name change."
Heading Off Apple
Included in Outlook for Mac are three new features -- a new database, information rights management, and Cocoa.
Outlook's new under-the-hood, high-speed file-based database has support for backing up files with Time Machine and Spotlight Search. Information rights management protects sensitive content from users who do not have permission to access that content. Cocoa gives users better integration with Mac OS X.
Microsoft also released an update to the current version of Entourage on Thursday. Entourage 2008 for Mac Web Services Edition includes improved performance and allows users to sync tasks, notes and categories.
"One of the problems with using a Mac on corporate networks is Exchange support," said Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst. "Entourage supported Exchange, but its features are sub-par. Outlook 2007 is much better."
With Apple offering Exchange support in Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Microsoft needs to support Exchange better to avoid a situation where Apple Mail works well enough and individuals question whether they need Microsoft Office, Silver added.
Microsoft said its Entourage update specifically gives users faster data synchronization so users on Exchange get better e-mail and calendar support.
Enterprise customers, including NASA and Wesleyan University, have been beta testing the update since earlier this year. The new edition will be available for Entourage users on Office 2008 for Mac SP2 and on Exchange 2007 SP1 Roll Up 4 or later, according to Microsoft.
"Today's release of the Web Services Edition strengthens Exchange connectivity for Entourage customers and sets the stage for the move to the new application -- Outlook for Mac," said Takeshi Numoto, vice president of Microsoft's office product management group.
Microsoft also announced its Office for Mac 2008 product lineup.
The Office for Mac 2008 product line will be refreshed Sept. 15. Microsoft has simplified the choice of editions from three to two. The Home and Student editions will stay the same, but Office 2008 for Mac and Office 2008 for Mac Special Media Edition will be merged into one product called Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition. The new edition will cost $239, while the others keep the $149 price tag.