Tom Negrino at MacWorldhas written a review of Entourage 2008, part of the newly released Microsoft Office for Mac 2008.
Although it has its fans, the shortcomings of Entourage 2004 were well-known and many were hoping for greater things from Entourage 2008.
There are several other new or improved features relating to e-mail or calendaring, but they apply only to users in corporate environments that connect to a Microsoft Exchange server. Given that it’s been four long years in the making, it’s a missed opportunity that Entourage 2008 hasn’t also added some of the best new features found in Mail, such as automatic detection of physical addresses and dates, or e-mail stationery templates.
Entourage gets points for more complete AppleScript-ability, for compatibility with Mac OS X’s Services and for looking nicer, but when you get down to business — backing up your email and working with other apps — things look less rosy.
Negrino notes Microsoft’s advice that Entourage’s monolithic database be excluded from Time Machine backups and that users employ “alternative backup methods” instead. This is not only a pain in the butt, but cuts across the comprehensive design of Time Machine as a “set and forget”, everything-that-matters-to-you backup system.
Working with iCal is also fraught in Negrino’s view:
When you first synchronize Entourage with Sync Services, it creates an Entourage calendar in iCal, replicating your Entourage events in iCal. If you add or change events in that Entourage calendar in iCal or on a mobile device, those events will be synchronized back to Entourage’s internal calendar. But there’s no way to bring events from other iCal calendars (such as the default Home, Work, or Birthdays calendars) into Entourage’s internal calendar. Put another way, Entourage can publish data to iCal, but can’t subscribe to any of iCal’s other calendars. In effect, Entourage uses iCal as a convenient conduit to synchronize its data to other devices, but doesn’t treat iCal as a full calendaring partner.
After getting to the end of the review, I was surprised by the final sentence:
“Finally, if you’re outside of the corporate realm, and need a mail, calendar, and contact manager with lots of headroom and solid integration with the rest of the Office suite, Entourage provides a wealth of features that are deeper than Apple’s trio.”
Tags: Address Book, email, entourage, iCal, mail.app, microsoft, office for mac 2008, sync services, time machine