Last summer I asked if the MacBU was getting unfairly pounded I gave the MacBU the benefit of the doubt. Back in August we just didn’t know what we do now.
With the release of Office 2008, I think it now shows just how out of touch the MacBU is with the needs of Mac users. And the thing about it is that most of this has nothing to do with new releases of Word, Excel, or Powerpoint.
Mistakenly, the Mac team believes that the most important Office application is Word. But walk into a Windows-based office today and Word is likely minimized in a task bar, if open at all. Full attention is on Outlook. Outlook is what tells you whether you need to even use Word. Outlook, when used properly, determines if you’ll spend most of your work day in Excel or Word. Plus, it manages most of your office communications. Outlook is the star on the Office stage.
So, for Mac users, the most important application is Entourage. I’m not sure the MacBU realizes this.
Entourage and Exchange = The Elephant In The Room
Since about this time last year, Microsoft started letting details about Mac Office 2008 drip out. Screenshots of Word, Excel and Powerpoint began to circulate. Not a peep was made about Entourage 2008 – almost nobody even knew what Entourage 2008 would look like until late summer 2007.
So when the first screenshots started coming out for Entourage 2008 it felt like a drop of water in the desert. Finally some news, a cleaned up interface that looks like it belongs on a Mac.
But what about Exchange support?
Throughout the summer, and earlier, comments on Mac Mojo asked this question. Office looks all pretty now, but is there feature parity with Outlook? Will my tasks sync? How about my categories?
Nobody on Mac Mojo would even acknowledge Exchange improvements in Entourage ’08. Today we know that’s because there really weren’t any. Besides a (much-needed) facelift, Entourage ’08 may as well be Entourage ’05 (yes, a single year) to Exchange users. And at this rate it’s going to take until 2012 to even hope that Exchange support like Outlook’s is added.
Eating The Entourage Dog Food
Browse around on the microsoft.public.mac.office.entourage newsgroup and you’ll likely see a few threads of complaints about Entourage ’08’s lack of Exchange support. Replies from Microsoft representatives and employees usually hover around the idea that these users should file feedback right in the software.
Which they should. Microsoft will have no idea what Exchange features take priority unless users submit feedback.
But I think what upsets people about this is 2 things:
- Feedback about this kind of stuff has been filed for the past 4 years
- The fact that the Mac Office team needs to be told precisely what users want is a slap in the face
I think the first part is self-explanatory, but I’ll gladly explain the 2nd part.
The corporate offices at Microsoft are likely completely Exchange based when it comes to email and other office communications. Surely the Mac Office team must have to work with Outlook or Outlook Web Access at some point. The fact that the MacBU doesn’t already know what’s important for Exchange users implies that they don’t actually use Entourage or care much about it.
If you don’t know how bad the dog food tastes it might be you haven’t had any.
Let’s Remove Features
To add insult to injury, Exchange support isn’t even in Entourage ’08 across the board.
In previous versions of Office, the Student and Teacher edition included the same Exchange support as the regular edition.
But in somekind of boardroom decision from Hell, they decided to take Exchange support out of the Student and Teacher Edition and only put it in editions of Office that cost $400 or more.
That’s more than twice the cost of the Student and Teacher Edition. Why should a user have to pay that much more for Exchange support when there’s really not that much Exchange support to begin with?
So all the Mac-using students who go to colleges with Exchange – guess what? You’re SOL.
Microsoft also declined to put Automator Actions into the Student and Teacher edition. WTF? That’s just plain rude.
It’s no mystery that Mac users are jumping from Mac Office to Apple solutions and Open Standards. Despite the MacBU’s efforts to have transparency with their users through their blog, their actions show that they don’t really listen. Without full Exchange support in Entourage you might as well be using Mail.app. iWork already did MSOffice XML before Mac Office did, and Keynote presentations are almost ALWAYS better than Powerpoint (ok, I just like the transitions).
The bummer is that the fundamental problem isn’t solved. There’s still an Exchange hole in iWork’s ship – it’s just that the captain shows that he might actually fix the hole.