Exchange program [Entourage] misses the mark

By Charles Wright
August 10, 2004

We'd like to think that somewhere in heaven there'll be a special reserve, equipped with iPods full of ethereal music, for Mac users who try to survive in the corporate world without going over to Windows. Having experienced a small but highly concentrated version of hell down here, surely they'll get a break in the afterlife.

Take the example of a friend of ours, who's the chief operating officer of a US start-up. In his previous job he became addicted to Microsoft Exchange Server because of its collaborative abilities, which allow users to share Outlook calendars, contacts and files. It also gives the office access to IMAP email - a better medium than the store-and-forward POP version.

Exchange isn't cheap - in Australia a 25-user installation costs something like $20,000 - but in the US you can rent it from a managed outsourced provider called MailStreet for $US40 ($A57) a month per seat.

Our friend signed the company up immediately, to the great joy of the Windows users who went through the MailStreet configuration process with surprising ease and were quickly viewing each other's schedules and exchanging tasks. Their COO, however, wasn't quite so fortunate. He'd recently bought a Macintosh PowerBook and was determined not to go back to Windows. He reasoned that it shouldn't be too difficult to make the Mac environment work with Exchange Server, given that Microsoft had just released Office 2004 for Macintosh, which includes a new version of Entourage. One of the key attractions is its supposed compatibility with Exchange.

Alas, he bought the package, and quickly discovered that it wasn't as compatible as the sales material suggested.

He couldn't access the public folders on the server, let alone share anything. Even the Outlook Web Access feature - which allows a user to access email, calendars, contacts, tasks, and public folders from any computer via a web browser - looked different using Internet Explorer or Safari on the Mac.

That wasn't the only problem. Another object of his technological affection is the Palm OS-powered Kyocera 7135 Smartphone. It synchronises perfectly well with the Apple OS X address book and iCal. But it will not sync directly with Entourage.

Other Mac users manage to do so quickly with the AppleScript synchronisation tools, Sync Entourage-Address Book and Sync iCal, developed by classical pianist Paul Berkowitz. Other users probably don't have the thousands of address book entries that, unfortunately, mean that on our friend's Mac the procedure occurs at roughly the speed of plate tectonics.

He decided, given all his problems with Entourage, to sync the Mac address book and iCal with the Exchange Server directly. The only way to do that appears to be through GroupCal and Address X utilities developed at

Unfortunately, while they seem to work with other Exchange Server installations, they didn't working with MailStreet. Our friend found himself becalmed in a Sargasso of tech support buck-passing, in which Snerdware pointed the finger at MailStreet, and they pointed back at Snerdware.

He could, of course, install Virtual PC and under emulation run Outlook under Windows 2000. It would be slow. But that's not the reason he's not going to do it. It's become a matter of honour. Macs should be able to work with Exchange Server, and he's not going to stop until his does.

Much the same thing is happening with users who bought Nokia's 7610 mobile phone, expecting that it would naturally sync with the Mac. It doesn't and, according to a recent post at , it won't, at least not until Apple changes the technology iSync uses to communicate with Symbian devices like the 7610.

The Nokia 6600, 3650 and 3660 used a program called mRouter. The 7610 uses different software, which requires iSync to switch to SyncML. But nobody knows when that might happen. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a sync tool that worked with the executives of Microsoft, Apple and Nokia?

Sync tools: .

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