September 20, 2005
Okay, technically, it's Microsoft Office Service Pack 2, but while there are some minor changes to the rest of the suite, this is really all about Entourage and Exchange. There are a ton of Exchange improvements in Entourage, and while it's not everything that people want (can it ever be?), it's a big improvement. (It should be up on Mactopia as of today, Tuesday, 20 Sept. 2005)
One bit of a bummer, the Sync Services integration that the MacBU wanted to get in this version isn't here, due to some fixes that they need from Apple. That's not saying they'll never show up, just not this time. Yes, I agree, it sucks, but, wait a couple weeks, and Paul Berkowitz will probably have some updates to his excellent Address Book/Entourage and iCal/Entourage integration scripts on his web site, or via MacScripter. Spotlight integration isn't in this release yet, but not many databases are Spotlight - compatible yet, so it's disappointing, but not a huge surprise.
The new stuff
With SP2, you can now see how much space your mailbox takes up. Not just the overall size but how much each individual folder in your account uses. Being able to see individual folders is more than a little handy if you have a complex folder structure. If you have 40 folders, being told “You're over quota” is not as useful as knowing exactly which folder is taking up the most space.
You can now share folders with other Exchange users, so that teams can all access the same folder. Just select the folder, bring up the context menu, and select sharing.
Once you've done that, you can set default access permissions, anonymous access permissions, or add specific users to the folder Access Control List, (ACL).
You can add users to that list via the “Select User” dialog, which is a search dialog, or, if you know the specific user ID you want to add, you can do so via the “Advanced...” button in the “Select User” dialog.
Once you've added your users, you can then set their permissions either manually, or from one of the preset Exchange user types in the drop-down. One thing to keep in mind is that child folders do not inherit permissions in Exchange. If you assume otherwise, you'll have some problems.
Exchange Synchronization speed has been improved a lot, and in addition to the DAV connect, if you have an Outlook Web Access Server that can also be accessed from the public Internet, you can point Entourage at an OWA server and connect that way. (Using OWA is slower than straight DAV, but should still be plenty fast)
You can finally set up delegation from within Entourage! Woohoo! One less need for Outloook, (always a good thing).These settings live in the “Delegate” tab in the Exchange account settings. This tab not only lets you set up delegates for your Exchange account, but as before SP2, lets you set up the accounts you're a delegate for. (Setting up accounts you're a delegate for is the same as Outlook's “Open additional mailbox” feature, but a heck of a lot easier to get to.)
Once you select a delegate, you set permissions for them for your calendar, your Inbox and your Exchange Address Book. If you like, you can send them an email informing them of these settings from the dialog, (probably a good idea).
If you use a separate delegation server, you can set that via the “Advanced...” button in the delegation tab. This can also be set when you set up the accounts you're a delegate for. Otherwise Entourage will use the default server settings.
Something to keep in mind is that while sharing and delegation may seem to be the same thing, they aren't. When you set up sharing, you're only sharing that one folder. When you set up delegation, you're making someone a “co - user” of your account in a sense, and that can take a lot more resources. It also requires a lot more resources, such as direct access to the backend server, and it doesn't all happen over DAV. The only time you should use delegation is if you need someone to be able to send email as you and manage your calendar for you. If all you need is to give someone access to a folder, use sharing instead.
Unlike 2004 pre-SP2, you can now view, post, and subscribe to non-email public folders, (Subscribing is done via “Add to Favorites” in the folder context menu). Note that if you don't subscribe to any folders, every time you start Entourage and expand the “Public Folders” triangle, the list of Public Folders is pulled down from the server. If you have a lot of Public Folders, this can take a while.
For Exchange email, Entourage respects the Thread-Index and Thread-Topic headers for messages.
Addresses and the GAL
Global Address List integration has improved, but there are a few caveats. Groups in Entourage are not synchronized with Exchange. That may get fixed later, but in SP2, it's not automatic, nor can you set them up manually. This brings us to a major change for Entourage in SP2. Prior to this release, your Exchange and local address book were shown as a single, unified entity. That's no longer the case. Now, there's a separation of the two, and if, after you first run SP2, it looks like your entire local address book has been wiped, relax, it's up on the Exchange server. Select all, drag from Exchange to local, and it's all back. (You can drag contacts back and forth between the two if you like.) You can now browse the GAL in Entourage, although if you have a ton of entries, this can take a while. The search function is much faster, and I find it easier to use that.
Update from folks at MS
LDAP is a bit different, in order to support browsing the GAL, you must have a Windows 2003 domain controller. Entourage takes advantage of a new LDAP feature in Win2k3 servers known as VLV. If you are connecting Entourage to a Win2k DC, you’ll get a search only GAL (though you still get all the address auto-completes and organizational information).
Yes, there are some people that want the unified view. I'm not one of them. I like the separation of personal and professional stuff. I also like that Exchange can now be, in effect, a backup of my contact data. I can see where you'd like the other, and if you want it back in a future version, let Microsoft know now. One advantage to this separation, (it happens in the calendar too), is that it's much harder to confuse calendars if you have to manage multiples.
Take note that there's no offline GAL access in Entourage, even with SP2. Your personal Exchange contacts are cached locally, but not the GAL.SP2
One change that some may not even realize happened is the removal of “Directory Services” from the tools menu. That item's functionality is now a part of the Address book feature set in Entourage, so there's no need for a menu item that duplicates that, especially since SP2 searches the GAL faster, and with more options than before. It also made a lot more sense in the Address Book section anyway.
Another change that is helped by this separation of Exchange and local data is that with SP2, you can access your calendar and contact data from the main folder list in the Mail view. So, if you need to quickly look up contact or calendar information, you don't have to switch views back and forth, it's all accessible from the Mail view. This doesn't add any real clutter to E'rage's UI, as it just tacks the calendar and address book icons to the bottom of the various folder lists. Fewer mode changes are a good thing.
Calendars get the same treatment as the Address Book in Entourage. Your Exchange calendar is now separate from your local calendar, (which can really lead to some issues with synch software, like Mark/Space's products. I imagine they'll need an update to handle this). (One thing to watch out for, although this is not SP2-specific, is that category support in Exchange is still new, (I think it only just showed up in Outlook as of 2003), so if you use a lot of those on your Exchange calendar, you may get duplicates sans category. If you do a lot of Outlook use too, the chances of duplication are much higher, since Entourage and Outlook don't have a perfect 1:1 match for contacts and calendar event information)
There are a few bug fixes too. For one, opening a complex HTML message no longer means you can't get to your account settings. There should be far fewer incidences of complex HTML crashing Entourage. No, you still can't do really complex HTML in Entourage, but if you need that, just use Word and the “Send to” option. Works quite well. Exchange synchronization is again, much faster in this, and you can manually force synchronization if you wish to.
On the downside, there are still no task and note synchronization for Exchange, and that's getting a little old. Okay, it's getting a lot old. You still can't have event reminders run AppleScripts or launch programs. (To be fair, that's not a common option in most calendar managers on the Mac. Now Up-To-Date 5 can't do it either. iCal is really the only option here). The AppleScript dictionary needs some work, it's getting a little hoary.
None of the Office applications save Messenger are application bundles yet, they're still old-school resource fork applications. (I'd be VERY shocked to see this change before Office 12 shows up. With the Intel transition, that's going to be such a major overhaul of the code base that there's no point in fixing this beforehand.) If you have a lot of rules that move things from IMAP folders to local folders, Entourage still gets boggy when that happens.
If you want to set up Exchange server rules, you have to use Outlook, so that sucks. If you have to change your Exchange server's DNS name, you have to do that manually in Entourage, (or via AppleScript), it doesn't automatically change as with Outlook. While Entourage now tells you your password needs to be changed, since it still doesn't support Kerberos, you have to manually change your password in Entourage if you change it in Exchange/AD.
Some long-standing IMAP bugs, like unread message counts being just completely schizophrenic are still there, but the “disappearing/reappearing mail” problem caused by LiveSync seems to have been reduced, if not fixed completely.
I can't speak for the Palm side of things, but if you use Mark/Space's Missing Sync for Windows Mobile, the tasks are going to be very intermittent, and you may see some oddities with the address book and calendar sync, thanks to the new splitting of those between Exchange and local. (In general, assume that only your local information will sync)
Differences between Entourage SP2 and Outlook 2001
- Entourage requires HTTP-DAV(OWA) and LDAP to be running on the Exchange server, Outlook 2001 only requires MAPI
- Entourage doesn't provide off-line GAL access
- You can't map between Public Folder favorites in Entourage and Public Folder favorites in Outlook
- Entourage doesn't support Outlook Forms, voting buttons, RTF formatting, (GOOD THING), or Receipt Tracking, (although you can set up custom headers to get some basic receipt support)
- Entourage doesn't support Exchange server rules, (although Outlook 2001 Mac's server rules were incompatible with Win Outlook's, so that sucked anyway. Better to wait and do it right), nor does it have the Exchange out-of-office function, although you can create your own if you need
- As noted before, you get password expiration notification, but you can't change your Exchange password from Entourage. You have to use some other method, like OWA, and then change Entourage's password to match.
- No synchronization of tasks or notes with Exchange
Does this make Entourage a 1:1 match for Outlook? No, not at all. There are a lot of functions in Outlook that require Windows, or a level of integration with Exchange that Entourage doesn't yet have. Does that make SP2 any less of an improvement? No, not at all. The Exchange and other fixes in this release of Entourage take care of a rather large amount of complaints about earlier versions of Entourage, and show that the MacBU hasn't been sitting around twiddling their thumbs. If you use Exchange with Entourage, this upgrade is a no brainer. Even if you don't, you should consider it since it's a) FREE, and b) includes more than just Exchange - related improvements and fixes.
If you're any kind of sysadmin/IT Manager and you are supporting Entourage in a corporate environment, i highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend you download and read the Office Resource Kit. It is a great, albeit highly underutilized source of information on Office:Mac. Another great source of information is the Entourage MVP page, and the various product newsgroups. All of those resources will do a fantastic job at helping you solve almost every common problem you run into, and most of the uncommon ones as well.
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