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Office 2008 for Mac Gets New E-Mail Service

Microsoft provided fresh details about the next editions of Microsoft Office for the Apple Macintosh platform, including a new e-mail service.

Microsoft reduced the number of Office 2008 for Mac products from three editions to two editions, according to an announcement issued by the company on Thursday. The new Business Edition is scheduled to launch on Sept. 15, while the Home and Student Edition is currently available, according to a team blog.

Microsoft has also developed a hosted version of the e-mail client in Office 2008 for Mac. This new service is called "Entourage 2008 for Mac Web Services Edition." It currently can be downloaded by Entourage users for free here.

Next year, Microsoft plans to replace the desktop version of Entourage for Mac with a new application called "Outlook for Mac." This new e-mail client is scheduled for release in late 2010 as part of the next version of Office for Mac, according to Microsoft's blog. Outlook for Mac will feature a new user interface, plus functionality requested by current enterprise Mac users.

"I touch bases with Mac users in the enterprise on a daily basis so that we can deliver the right solutions in the right timeframe," commented Mike Tedesco, senior product manager at Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU), in a telephone interview.

The PC side has been getting a lot of the buzz, with Windows 7 already released and Office 2010 scheduled for release in the first half of next year. MacBU will keep pace and deliver product upgrades, following to a "two- to three-year delivery cycle," Tedesco explained.

"Our job at MacBU is to keep pace with our Windows Office team and with the Macintosh platform development and basically integrate from both sides," he said. "Today's enterprise Mac users need to be able to work seamlessly with Windows workers on the network and still have the Mac experience."

Entourage 2008 for Mac Web Services Edition will use a new architecture to connect with Exchange Server, replacing WebDAV, Tedesco said. This new architecture will enable faster connectivity, plus synchronization with tasks, notes and categories.

Outlook for Mac will include information rights management, a highly requested feature, according to Tedesco, that helps protect sensitive information in an organization.

Outlook for Mac is built "from the ground up" using Cocoa, Apple's development platform. Cocoa enables a Mac-type user experience with the productivity features of Microsoft Outlook, according to Tedesco. Outlook for Mac will also tap into a new database.

"The new architecture and database (high-speed file-based) puts us on the launching pad to deliver Outlook for Mac," Tedesco said. "With Entourage, the logic resided on the client. We've completely rearchitected the way we connect with Exchange Web servers and that allows for much greater integration, functionality and performance across platforms."

The Business Edition of Office 2008 for Mac can be preordered on Aug. 18 for "$399.95 (U.S) and $239.95 (U.S) for customers eligible for Version Upgrade," according to a Microsoft announcement.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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