Prioritize your Exchange needs!

Mac users in Exchange environments have sounded off that they are sorely disappointed with the lack of Task and Note syncing in Entourage 2008 as well as other features that Outlook for Windows users take for granted.

In the thread “So does Entourage 2008 sync Exchange tasks and categories?” customers are SHOUTING at Microsoft for lack of feature parity with Outlook and many are saying they have no reason to upgrade to Office 2008.

So, what can they do?

First, always send Microsoft feedback by using the Help –> Send Feedback tool in any Office application. Find out why this is important.

Second, this week MacBU developers, product managers and others are making appearances in the Microsoft public newsgroups and answering questions. They are also asking questions as well as looking for people who are discovering the major bugs and reporting them.

Lead Program Manager for Entourage, Andy Ruff, responded in the thread with this for Exchange users:

“It would help us to know which Exchange features you’re interested in for Entourage so that we can prioritize them with our development.”

As a Microsoft MVP I will get the opportunity to travel to Redmond this April and speak with the Office:mac product managers and developers. MVPs are advocates of the customer and we try to express your frustrations and needs on your behalf. But we need to know your thoughts.

My Exchange priorities are in order of importance:

  1. Sync Tasks and Notes
  2. Support for setting all server-side rules
  3. Keep attachments with calendar events

While these would be nice, I don’t need them:

  • Sync categories
  • Ability to hide folders “On My Computer”
  • Ability to easily switch between a front-end OWA server and back-end server on a laptop
  • Support for files in public folders
  • First available time button when scheduling a meeting
  • GAL look-up support outside of a company network
  • Side-by-side calendar views for me and my delegates

What’s on your list? Please comment below.

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22 comments to Prioritize your Exchange needs!

  • Jon Connell

    I’m a little surprised that side-by-side calendar views are not on your first hit-list as this has been a FAQ in the newsgroup for as long as I’ve been subscribed to it. I don’t think I know a single Outlook user who plans meetings in my organisation who does not use this to pick a convenient time for a meeting (most convenient does not simple mean ‘free’).

  • David

    For what MS is charging there should be full Exchange functionality. We’ve been waiting since 04 for a major upgrade. And MS was the last major app to go native Intel. MS could have done much better. After all they have the money and the skill. I guess just not the will.

  • Shannon

    Here is my list of assumed-it-would-be-in-Office2008-must-have features….
    1) Sync Tasks and Notes. Seriously. I still can’t believe it’s not there.
    2) Categories (same as Outlook)
    I don’t have words to describe my disbelief that these are not included
    Below are my less critical (but urgent) requests:
    3) Access to server rules would be nice
    4) Some new mobile device conduits would be nice (esp for Tasks)
    5) side by side viewing of shared calendars
    Really, that is not asking much… is it?

  • Chris

    I would just like to comment on the fact that it was EXTREMELY difficult to get my Dad to switch to a Mac at home being a heavy business user, and the fact that I’ve been playing up this upgrade to allow for relatively FULL Exchange email support is going to not only allow his frustrations to come full circle, but also doubt my decision to switch him to the Apple platform.
    Essentially, after MORE THAN FOUR YEARS of time to prepare for this launch (including delays), a complete Entourage Exchange feature-for-feature parity with Outlook seems to me like it should have been the #1 priority for the MBU besides native Intel-compatibility. It makes me wonder what the MBU has been up to in the meantime (other than rather frequent updates to 2004–props there) to seem to have so much trouble integrating the FULL Exchange into Entourage in a timely manner.
    Therefore I’m convinced that the MBU has a tough time talking with the Outlook team, as I find it hard to believe that the rather simpler Mac Office suite has taken significantly more time to port over than the much, much, much more complex Adobe Creative Suites.
    Seriously MBU… take some notes from Adobe! You’re alienating your customer base! I’m reluctantly upgrading, but only because I want native Intel-compatibly. Personally, I could care less about the new features as they don’t seem all that exciting and as fresh as could be. Step it up! Hire more programmers if you need to, but at least give us something we’ve been waiting for since last century!
    Otherwise, for my list… Everything else here is a “ditto” for me, but it’s just saddening that I even have to think about making a list. Sorry MBU, but my fuse has run out for you.

  • VishM

    I have been unable to see if a bug in entourage 2004 has been remedied in E 2008. In our corp environment on Exchange 2003, entourage has been unusable as calendar events would magically appear and disappear in situations where users have delegates. Has this been fixed? I have seen no word on this and our IT folks claim to be ignorant to this also.

  • I’m not aware of any bug about this. Although this may only happen with Entourage are you sure this is a problem with Entourage itself?
    I suggest posting your problem in the Microsoft newsgroup for Entourage to see if anyone else chimes in. If this unique to you then that suggests possibly some sort of server configuration or network issue.

  • Joe Jones

    The rumor must be true that the person in charge of Entourage Feature Inclusions is a Mac user who had a task on his BB to add Task Sync to the 2008 version, but missed it because his office desktop did not sync with his BB.

  • I really need the following:
    1. Tasks
    2. Categories
    3. Mobile device conduits that keep categories etc. The current Entourage -> ical -> PDA looses all categories (which is completely useless for me – I end up running parallels/winXP to sync to my PDA. But then categories and tasks are not synced to the server…. so I have no solution).
    I would like the following:
    1. Notes

  • Stephen Mallinson

    Exchange / Activesync header information issue still present….
    Microsoft Article ID – 926521 is still an issue with Entourage 2008. I would have thought that this would have been fixed in
    the new version.
    This really needs to be fixed ASAP…

  • janet

    I use Outlook 2007 on a PC at work, and I use a MAC with Outlook 2007 trough Parallels at home. My mail is on an Exchange server at work. I was very much disappointed when I noticed that Entourage still does not show to which messages I already replied or forwarded at work. This makes Entourage pretty useless for me!!!!

  • Scott Hoffman

    Really need to get header information included in Entourage when messages are sent from Windows Mobile 6.0 devices. It’s a shame that Blackberry to Microsoft Entourage shows no problems, but Microsoft to Microsoft doesn’t work.

  • I work for a consulting company that is a Microsoft Gold Partner, and I’ve switched over to using a Mac at work exclusively. Our list of needs for Entourage match yours, so I’ll just second your list.
    However, I’ve got something else to say on the subject of Office for Mac: Why are there no versions of Front Page, Publisher, Access, etc for Mac? Why do Mac users only get Word, Excel, PowerPoint and (crippled)Outlook (aka Entourage)?
    This is absolutely unacceptable, and I can’t in good conscience recommend Office to any Mac user. It’s simply not worth the money. If it’s not going to work properly with Exchange, or have the full suite of apps available to Windows users, then I’m simply going to recommend OpenOffice/NeoOffice to Mac users.
    It galls me to have to continue to maintain a Parallels workstation to have complete Office functionality. I’m sure this is Microsoft’s intention, but why provide only a half-product?

  • I would like to add to the top priorities lists proper handling of HTML when replying or forwarding an HTML e-mail, webkit renders it perfect why is Entourage messing it up when transmitting is not understandable to me.
    John Brodeur

  • Hi John!
    Your request is actually part of my Entourage (non-Exchange) list. 😉

  • William Barnett

    I’ve asked our MS Technical Account Manager regarding the lack of the following:
    – Manage GAL-based and personal Distribution Lists
    However, in order of priority these have importance for our organization, a 50/50 mix of Macs and PCs, for inclusion in Entourage:
    – GAL-based and personal Distribution Lists (Groups are local only)
    – Tasks & Notes
    – server-side rule management
    – remove attachments applies to item on Exchange server, not local only
    – offline GAL access
    – Via Policy, local .plist, or other, to prevent storage of items in Folders On My Computer. Access still needed in the event of send failures (items to to local Outbox).
    – additional mapping of Entourage fields to Outlook via Exchange (ie custom fields)

  • Hello Everyone,
    Here is a copy of a ‘suggestion’ I just sent to Microsoft. It details needs for Entoruage:
    I have recently purchased a copy of Office 2008 to evaluate the product before making a decision to roll-out the suite to our 40+ Mac users.
    We have been using Exchange server for over 10 years and make extensive use of the calendaring and groupware features it provides. It has been the right decision to use Exchange as our groupware server as we have a mixed-platform (Mac and Windows) environment, we use OWA and we use Windows Mobile-based ActiveSync PDA’s.
    So far Entourage has not been a viable Exchange client for us due to its many limitations and omissions. With the release of Entourage 2008 I was hoping we could finally switch away from Outlook under Classic and finally upgrade our Mac’s to Leopard and/or Intel processors.
    Sadly I do not feel Entourage meets our needs and these are the reasons why:
    No Task syncing – many of our users use Outlook Tasks which they create and process via webmail and via Windows Mobile PDA’s as well as in Outlook on the Mac desktop. Without Tasks that sync to the Exchange server Entourage leaves these users without a solution as changes to Tasks do not sync to the handhelds and vice-versa.
    No Note syncing – Not having notes that sync creates the same issues as with Tasks.
    Cannot modify/create/delete server-side rules – almost every user creates and modifies server-side rules which allow them to move, delete or forward mail to different folders/recipients. Although they can create rules in Entourage they only run when the client application is open. This is useless when people access their accounts via webmail and/or Windows Mobile PDA’s as the rules simply don’t work.
    Cached Mode – Many of our users hot-desk this means they move from machine to machine to check their mail. Many users manage multiple mailboxes for their manager or resources. All users have mailboxes in excess of 1GB in size. Because of Cached Mode ALL of a users data as well as ALL the additional mailboxes they add is copied to the LOCAL database. This takes AGES and makes opening shared calendars so slow its unusable. It also means if a user moves to another machine they have to wait for all they changed data to sync. This can be many many megabytes and can take hours. Why cannot Entourage use an un-cached mode for Exchange accounts just like Webmail does?
    Issue with KB Article 926521 – We have used Windows Mobile handsets for over 2 years and want to continue to do so. The fact the sent items originating from the handsets do not display correctly in Entourage makes the program unusable as we cannot find the messages we sent via Windows Mobile
    Global Address List – What can’t we set the Global Address List as the default address list in Entourage?
    On My Computer – Why can’t we remove this folder from view as we do not use it?
    Resources in Appointments – Calendar does not recognize our rooms, projectors or cameras as a resource, why is this?
    With all of these issues combined I fell I cannon currently recommend Entourage 2008 for our userbase. We need to move to Leopard and Intel Macs and so I am forced to consider switching to Lotus Domino server for our Groupware and BlackBerry for our handhelds and Lotus produce a full-featured Mac Groupware client. I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS I want to stick with an ALL MICROSOFT solution. Please could you let me know if any of these issues are being addressed so I can try and make the right decision. I now you do not reply to these posts, but in case someone wants to talk this through with me in more details my e-mail us
    Thank you for taking the time to read this comment.
    Gary Eary
    IT Manager
    20|20 Limited

  • I echo your feature requests, but the priority is nearly inverse of my user’s needs. We now have more Mac users than Windows (60/25), but it’s not like we’ll stop using Exchange 2007 or anything. We still need closer parity w/ Outlook.
    I know MAP-connectivity is being phased out of Outlook, so I won’t even bother listing it here for Entourage “pipe dreams”.
    How could you not include personal folders (.pst) in your list?
    Or how about creating/viewing/editing of distribution lists?
    These lacking features lead people to think “you can’t do that on a Mac”, and they’d be (partially) right. Even has easier/better support of directory lookups.
    It looks like iPhone 2.0 software will be a better experience than Entourage (in many collaborative respects).

  • Thomas Dassel

    I have set up Entourage with Kerio Mailserver, but I am still shacking my head in disbelief, that we still can’t assign tasks to other user, that they don’t sync to the server.
    Projects in Entourage is a good idea, but not if only the files are shared and not the mails and tasks that go with that project. You can’t assign a task to Project members ? How sad is that ?
    Switchers a desperate for a out of the box working solution for basic collaboration. We are asking for something that is there on Windows for ages and switchers don’t understand why it is so difficult to set up an environment to match that 10 year old functionality with OS X.
    PSD File import from Outlook ( Windows ) ist still missing ( it can’t be that difficult ??? )
    So we are still waiting for a collaboration solution that works together with Windows Clients and is not lightyears behind.
    Did I mention the missing functionality regarding MS Sharepoint in Office 2008 ??

  • Curran K. Porto, Esq.

    Entourage looks nice, and searches with ease, but really falls short of Exchange (2003 SP2) functionality. I shouldn’t short change it, however, it seems to marvelously freeze up the Exchange server at random during sync. No clue why, but I guess I’ll keep a Windows base unit close at hand!
    Any one having a simialr problem would be a very kind should if you could give me a hint as to why Entourage freezes Exchange in the intranet, and not OXA.
    P.S. The inability to modify or even see server rules is somewhat annoying to say the least!

  • Besides having native Notes synchronization with Exchange, complex HTML is VERY high on my list. It is appalling that Mac Mail can forward, say, a reservation confirmation from Southwest Airlines, and Entourage can’t.
    How about being able to insert Items (Contacts, Calendar events) the same way they can be inserted in Outlook? It is ridiculous that I can choose to include a vCard or iCal item while working on a message.
    The inclusion of Notes, complex HTML and the ability to insert Items are my “big three.”

  • I too am baffled about the severe disparity of functionality between Outlook and Entourage. Being the first in our company to ever evaluate Macs instead of PC’s I becoming more illusioned for every day I spent on my new Mac. Entourage (and the rest of the Office 2008) pales in comparison with Office2007. I could not believe that it’s impossible to insert a table in the body of an email, and proper offline support for Exchange surely isn’t something a development team should ask users for opinions on? These are bread and butter items. I will hold off recommending Mac’s to the gang of eager directors who were itching to get their hands on one. The uphill learning curve is too much for them to accept.

  • Jeremy Dybash

    @ Claus Rasmussen: I think Microsoft defers these needs and simply points to virtualization solutions (e.g. Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion). That way they get additional sales of Windows (whatever flavor) AND another Office 2007 license. See how they turned that “minus” into a “plus”?
    Re: tables (and other common/useful features) in email clients – already has these features–have you tried copy/pasting or drag/dropping tables, forms or other content into It’s result is quite useable and editable… now.
    It’s clear Apple intends to really make a better Exchange client (than Entourage). They claim Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard will include…

    “out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 built into Mail, Address Book, and iCal. Mac OS X uses the Exchange Web Services protocol to provide access to Exchange Server 2007.”

    Of course Microsoft isn’t expected to sit idly by. They sure have their work cut out for them.