Someone recently asked me for my thoughts about today’s Entourage & Exchange pain points.
Below are my top 10 issues facing Entourage users working in Exchange environments. They are by no means in order of preference. I’d appreciate hearing what others think.
First, what didn’t I include?
- Synchronization (or lack thereof) for tasks, notes and categories is a well-known topic and so those aren’t included.
- Public folders and MAPI support have been de-emphasized in Exchange Server 2007 and so I chose not to include further comments about features that are going away.
- I also left out a blanket statement of “Full feature parity with Outlook for Windows” simply because this is a top issues list.
Now, what are the significant issues that affect Entourage 2008 users who connect to Exchange Servers? What are the issues that may not be significant but act like small thorns when the user runs into them?
Pain points will mostly fall into two major categories:
- Switchers who expect Entourage to act like Outlook
- Mac users who need to interact with a Windows world
- Display names
Microsoft should give Entourage users the ability to specify how display names appear for their contacts.
Some companies use the format “Last, First” for display name while others use “First Last”. If an Entourage user receives a message with a “Last, First” display name and chooses to add the sender to his Contacts list (or Address Book) the names fall in the incorrect fields of the new Contact record.
Pain Point: Outlook for Windows offers a feature to allow its user to enter field names correctly but display the full name in a few different ways. Entourage needs this ability so that sorting message lists by From or To is consistently sorting by “First Last” or “Last, First”.
Pain Point: The Message –> Add to Address Book command and the contextual menu item Add Sender To Address Book need to be smart enough to know when a display name is in “Last, First” format and add the names correctly.
- Delegates can’t modify recurring meetings
This pain point may have been addressed, I believe, with Exchange Server 2007 and Web Services; however, many companies and institutions are still running the older server version.
- Per this Microsoft KB article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/920134, complex calendaring is not supported with WebDAV clients.
Pain Point: When an Outlook for Windows user is a delegate for an Entourage user and modifies a recurring appointment, the change is not reflected in Entourage.
- Sent items from ActiveSync are munged
This is a known issue with Exchange Server 2003 but I’ve seen one user report he is still seeing this problem with Exchange Server 2007.
Per this Microsoft KB article http://support.microsoft.com/kb/926521, header information for messages sent via ActiveSync is not displayed in Entourage. A simple one-line message sent via a mobile device:
Can you please send me your notes from last week’s meeting?
turns to gibberish when viewed in Entourage:
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft Exchange V6.5 Received: from 10.1.1.1 ([10.1.1.1]) by exchange.mydomain.com ([10.1.1.2]) with Microsoft Exchange Server HTTP-DAV ; Thu, 17 Jul 2008 02:50:15 +0000 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-class: urn:content-classes:message Subject: Last week's meeting notes Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 21:51:09 -0500 Message-ID: <EMAIL> X-MS-Has-Attach: X-MS-TNEF-Correlator: Thread-Topic: Last week's meeting notes Thread-Index: AcjnunoIVZkyc/NjTxCQNSLYyj0j8A== From: "Smith, William" <EMAIL> To: <EMAIL>
Last week's meeting notes
Can you please send me your notes from last week's = meeting?
In some cases, where message encoding is present, the content of the message will be completely unreadable, not just difficult to read.
Pain Point: This problem is becoming more apparent with the iPhone 2.0 Update that uses ActiveSync.
- Sent Items aren’t syncing to Exchange Server
This is a very common topic in the Microsoft Entourage newsgroup. My first suggestion to posters is to clear their Sent Items folder cache. However, this doesn’t always work. This newsgroup thread is indicative of many reports of this problem: http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.mac.office.entourage/browse_thread/thread/4022f3d320aa92b.
Pain Point: Users moving between two or more computers are affected. Some move between Entourage at work and Entourage at home, some move between Entourage and Outlook at work, and others move between Entourage and a mobile device. The Entourage Sent Items are essentially not getting backed up to the server and users can’t reference old mail messages unless they are on the sending machine.
- Entourage Sent Items aren’t appearing on Blackberry
To the best of my knowledge this is a problem that RIM needs to fix. They have posted one KB article on their website http://www.blackberry.com/btsc/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=KB05382, acknowledging:
“When you send an email message from a Microsoft Entourage email client served by a Microsoft Exchange Server account associated with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the message does not appear on the BlackBerry smartphone.”
“This is a previously reported issue that has been escalated internally to our development team. No resolution time frame is currently available.”
I’d like to see Microsoft approach RIM to help them resolve this long-standing issue.
Pain Point: Sent items from Blackberry can not be referenced in Entourage.
- Entourage home users can’t easily access the GAL
The LDAP Server setting in an Entourage account can not reach the necessary LDAP server when an Entourage user is outside his company network.
I have an AppleScript freely available for download and another person has posted a GUI application that acts as a wrapper to the do OWA GAL search AppleScript command.
If the functionality is built into Entourage then give it a GUI that the average user can discover and use.
Pain Point: Although an AppleScript command exists and the community has contributed solutions for users to access that command, the novice user needs a built-in GUI means of accessing this feature. This feature is not discoverable.
- Cannot send new time meeting proposals
This may be related to complex calendaring. Entourage users have no means, as Outlook for Windows users do, to receive an invitation and send a proposal for a new meeting time.
Pain Point: Entourage users are limited to accepting, declining or asking the meeting organizer to resend or update the event to a new time. Negotiations are handled automatically in the Outlook for Windows world.
- Scheduling list truncates after about 20 invitees
I recently found this reported in the Microsoft Entourage newsgroup.
In a new calendar event invite more than 20 (say 30) attendees. View the Scheduling tab and scroll to the bottom. The list appears to stop after about 20 addresses and truncates the rest.
Pain Point: Meeting organizers are unable to effectively view schedules of all attendees when the attendee list is longer than about 20.
- Contact groups don’t sync with Exchange
An Entourage user can create local groups with his Contacts but he can’t replicate those groups to the Exchange Server.
Pain Point: Groups and categories are two major methods for sorting and organizing items within Entourage. However, Exchange users have no ability to reproduce their sorts on other machines (Mac or Windows) because their sort criteria don’t get synchronized.
- Laptop users can’t easily switch between servers
I encourage users to connect to a back-end Exchange Server while on their company network because it is a direct and faster connection. However, laptop users often select their OWA server for their server address because they move in and out of the network.
Laptop users need the ability to select an alternate Exchange Server address so that they are always connecting optimally. An automated solution based on network location would be ideal.
Pain Point: Using an external Outlook Web Access (OWA) address while on a company network can cause slow, sluggish syncing. It negatively impacts performance.
Like Steve Jobs, “and one more thing…”
- [Bonus!] No online viewing mode
Outlook for Windows offers its users the ability to view their mail without caching it locally to the computer. Entourage currently operates in permanent “Cached Exchange Mode” only. Users need the ability to do both.
Pain Point: Some high security companies are requiring that their E-mail clients not store any mail data locally on machines. Entourage currently cannot comply with this requirement. This should be enforceable by a company administrator.
Pain Point: Employees may “hotel” at different desks from day to day. Syncing a large mailbox on a new machine each day can be time-consuming and waste disk space.
Pain Point: Caching all account data can bog down a slow network or dial-up connection, especially accounts with many attachments.
I neglected to mention this the first time…
- [Double Bonus!] Can’t use stand-alone Entourage with Home & Student
With the transition from Office 2004 Student & Teacher to Office 2008 Home & Student, Exchange support was removed. However, Microsoft has made Entourage 2008 with Exchange Server support available as a stand-alone product for hosting companies to distribute to their clients.
Customers who have purchased Office 2008 Home & Student have reported that they are unable to install the stand-alone Entourage 2008 with Exchange Support without compromising their original Office installation.
Pain Point: These two Microsoft products, Office 2008 Home & Student and stand-alone Entourage 2008, conflict with each other forcing the customer to have to choose between one or the other.
And later, I was reminded of this…
- [An unprecedented Triple Bonus!] Read, Reply and Forward statuses do not sync
Between Outlook, Exchange and Outlook Web Access (OWA) the Read, Reply and Forward status arrows sync but Entourage does not sync this data with Exchange.
Similarly, Reminder statuses sync between Outlook and OWA but not with Entourage. If I’m away from my desk and snooze a Reminder on my iPhone for “30 Minutes Before Start” then that should be reflected in Entourage when I return to my desk.
Pain Point: Users moving between two or more computers, where one is running Entourage, have no visual cue as to which messages they’ve already processed on other machines.
- I haven’t mentioned that Entourage needs the ability to at minimum import PST files because I don’t see this as an Exchange pain point. However, it is still the number one pain point for switchers moving from Outlook to Entourage. And I suspect these switchers with PST files are mostly in Exchange environments.
- These pain points exclude those that Microsoft know very well already: Tasks/Notes syncing with Exchange as well as Categories syncing with Exchange.
- I posted a blog entry on Exchange Server needs. The comments may be of interest:
- Since compiling this list an unofficial method for installing the stand-alone version of Entourage 2008 with Office 2008 Home & Student was posted on this blog:
- Also since compiling this list I developed a work around to allow Entourage users to view ActiveSync Sent Items: