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In a time frame of three of four months from now (fall 2009), I'll have to choose how to natively enable a handful of mac computers to access Exchange Server 2007 (email, contacts, calendar.)

As far as I know at the moment there is only one solution: Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac, which includes the Exchange client Entourage (similar to Outlook for Windows.)

Apple announced that the next version of Mac OS X 10.6, a.k.a. "Snow Leopard", will have built-in support for Exchange 2007:

Microsoft Exchange Support

Snow Leopard includes 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. Because Exchange is supported on your Mac and iPhone, you’ll be able to use them anywhere with full access to your email, contacts, and calendar.

Does somebody know if these new features could replace the Entourage client? Could there be there some limitations?

Thanks!

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6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Entourage team is about to release a version of Entourage 2008 that uses Exchange Web Services instead of WebDAV. (Check mactopia.com and you should be able to find the public preview version). EWS is much more performant than WebDAV or MAPI, and the fact that Apple said that Snow Leopard will support Exchange 2007 (see www.apple.com/macosx/snowleopard/) indicates very strongly that they won't be using MAPI.

Having said that: it's tough to build a fully-featured EWS client. Apple will ship "Exchange support", but what will they support? There are lots of Exchange features (folder access delegation, S/MIME, multiple account support) that Entourage has now that I don't expect Apple to bother with. For that reason, I'd lean towards Entourage, especially given that MS has a "try before you buy" version available for download now and Snow Leopard isn't shipping until some unspecified future date.

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If you want full contact and calendar support at the moment, your only choice is entourage, or to use Outlook Web Access. You can use the native Mac mail client to collect mail from the Exchange server (POP or IMAP), but that's about it.

As far as Snow Leopard support goes, from what I have seen this should bring in the functionality of calendaring, contacts but bear in mind that these will be delivered through separate applications, mail, iCal and contacts, so if you want them all in a single application space you will most likely still need Entourage.

The other option of course is to run Outlook via Fusion or Parallels.

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I think the short answer is no one knows. (Unless you work for Apple.) We don't know when Snow Leopard will be released. We don't know how stable the 10.6.0 will be. We don't know exactly what features it will have or how complete an implementation of ActiveSync it will have.

If you have to make a decision right now your only sensible option is Entourage. Wait a couple of weeks and check out the keynote at WWDC and you might have more to go on.

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The thing to keep your ear to the ground about is what version of Samba comes with Snow Leopard. There are current beta builds of Samba that are being used by the Evolution-Exchange project. (Google keyword: "evolution mapi"). This project allows Evolution to talk directly to Exchange servers over MAPI calls, which beats the pants off of the other methods. However, to do so it relies on the Samba 4 code-set which is not in production yet. If Snow Leopard includes Samba 4, then the possibility of apple-supplied applications being able to talk to Exchange 2007 goes up markedly.

Until then, Entourage is the choice that provides the most features for Mac users.

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Thank you for this good answer! –  splattne May 26 '09 at 17:54
1  
FWIW MAPI is on it's slow way out as of the release of Exchange 2007. Entourage doesn't use MAPI for accessing Exchange which is why it is so much more limited than Outlook. Source: blogs.msdn.com/deva/archive/2008/10/28/… –  Chealion May 26 '09 at 18:39
    
@chealion This explains why I have this urge to throttle the heck out of Entourage whenever its users come to me for problems. For their problems are obscure, and hard to isolate. –  sysadmin1138 May 26 '09 at 18:55

At a minimum, I'd wait until after Apple's WWDC conference in the first week of June. During the show, info about native Exchange support in the iApps will likely be shown in the keynote (then covered by the press) and discussed in the NDA-covered sessions (leaked to the press).

Wait another two weeks and you'll know more about what is coming from Apple. As to whether or not it will work, well, that's a horse of a different color.

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Assuming that you want your users to have the full feature-set, I'd give them Entourage.

Mail/Calender/Addressbook might well be able to talk to Exchange with Snow Leopard, but that doesn't mean you'll get the full functionality. Personally, I find Entourage lacking compared to Outlook, let alone the Apple apps.

Using OSX in the workplace I ditched the Apple tools pretty quickly. They just lack the features needed.

Also, if they are used to Outlook, Entourage will be a much smoother transition.

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