Entourage 2008 introduces new enhancements for administrators

Effective today with the launch of the new Mactopia website, Microsoft is supporting administrators from Day 1 of Office 2008’s release with the IT Pros area…

Microsoft has changed its installation method for Office 2008 and added security enhancements specifically to Entourage. Macintosh administrators in corporate and educational environments need to be aware of these changes prior to deployment.
These changes include a new installer, elevated installation privileges, improved and elevated security and a new IT Pros website for the planning, deployment and ongoing support of Office 2008.

Installation meta package

Gone are the days of the drag-and-drop installation of Microsoft Office. Mass deployment before now has meant repackaging the Office folder for use with distribution applications such as Apple Remote Desktop or Casper.

Office 2008 now comes as a meta package, which is a single package of more package files, each devoted to a single part of the installation. Knowledgeable administrators can deploy the entire package file as is or dissect and deploy according to their needs.

Don’t want to install the fonts? Create a modified package.

Additionally, Apple’s installer application offers a preview of files before they are installed so that administrators can get a clear view of what is going where.

Administrator privileges required

Because Office 2004 was a drag-and-drop installation, Standard users could drag the folder to an Applications folder within their home folder and run the applications without the need for administrator privileges. While this was convenient for the Standard user it also meant that administrators had no way to prevent the installation of unauthorized Office licenses on corporate computers.

Installing Office 2008 now requires administrator privileges and the option to install into into personal folders is unavailable. Home users may find this upsetting but then again, if they are not administrators of the Macs they are using the owners now have the choice of preventing the installation. This is a major step toward preventing the installation of pirated software.

Fonts

The Office 2008 installer includes more than 120 fonts, some of which upgrade those from Office 2004. As part of the installation process old fonts are removed from user home folders where they were installed by default and the new fonts are installed in the root level Library folder. The 80MB of fonts installed at first run for every user will no longer multiply for multiple users of a system. Conveniently, these new fonts are all located within a Microsoft folder within /Library/Fonts, making them easy to locate.

Six new fonts offer a new look for documents and are included in Office 2007 for Windows as well. These fonts, known as the ClearType Font Collection on Windows, expand cross-platform compatibility beyond the tired Arial, Times, Verdana, etc. They are:

  • Calibri
  • Calisto
  • Cambria
  • Candara
  • Consolas
  • Constantia

Entourage and other Office 2008 applications now use these as most of their default fonts. Many administrators remove Office’s fonts to avoid conflicts with their own collections. I suggest keeping these fonts to avoid them remapping to uglier fonts.

[Added: Microsoft fonts to delete after installing Snow Leopard (includes help deleting font caches)]

Single sign-on with Kerberos support

Microsoft announced Kerberos support in Entourage 2008, which means it can now take advantage of single sign-on support. Mac OS X 10.3 and later systems can be “bound” to Active Directory to take advantage of its authentication services. A user who logs in to his AD-bound Mac will automatically authenticate to Windows Servers via SMB (or via AFP if using Group Logic’s ExtremeZ-IP) or Kerberized websites using Safari.

Now, Entourage 2008 joins the party for single sign-on E-mail. That means users will not be asked to enter their Exchange Server credentials but will instead log on behind the scenes. If Kerberos is not supported in a network then the standard NTLMv2 authentication is still available.

Kerberos support in Entourage will be a huge topic in the future. I hope to cover this in-depth at a later date on The Entourage Help Page’s Exchange Server pages.

Security increases with blocked attachments

Blocking potentially harmful attachments will be one of the more controversial topics surrounding Entourage 2008 in corporate or educational environments (and maybe for home users as well).
Like Outlook 2007, Entourage 2008 by default now prevents the sending and receiving of attachments that may contain harmful code. The blocked attachments list includes over 100 file name extensions such as .exe, .com, .js and .mpkg along with some Apple file types such as APPL and MIME types such as javascript and vbscript.
Rest assured that while blocking these file types is the default behavior of Entourage, Microsoft does provide a means for administrators to allow a few or all of these blocked file types to be unblocked. Administrators can even add file types to the list such as .mpg or mp3.

Administrator’s guide for deploying and supporting Office 2008

Microsoft introduced the Office 2004 for Mac Resource Kit, which was a first for assisting administrators with the deployment and use of Office for Mac, and they will soon release a similar resource kit for Office 2008.
Effective today with the launch of the new Mactopia website, Microsoft is supporting administrators from Day 1 of Office 2008’s release with the IT Pros area where administrators can find information specific to their needs, including Exchange Server support. I highly suggest reading the new article How Entourage 2008 works with different versions of Exchange Server.

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