Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011

Sunday night my work email account got migrated from an Exchange 2003 server to a bright, shiny, new Exchange 2010 box.  One downside to this is that WebDAVS access is no longer supported, so Monday morning I had to upgrade Entourage 2008 to Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition.  This went pretty smoothly.

In general I've been pretty pleased with Office 2008.  I'm a light user of Word and Excel, and a very light user of PowerPoint (i.e., I only open up PPT when I can't avoid it).  My primary app in Office was Entourage for my email and calendar.  With WebDAVS enabled I was able to securely check my email without having to use our VPN.  Compared with Outlook on Windows, Entourage's support for shared calendaring is somewhat lacking.  Also, I was unable to search our Global Address Book without either being on the corporate network or being VPNed in.

Monday afternoon in the day I got access to Office 2011 and installed it on my MacBook Pro.  The biggest change between 2008 and 2011 is that Entourage has been replaced by Outlook, an application missing from the Mac since Office 2001, IIRC.

Back before I moved to a Mac for my primary platform, I loathed Outlook on Windows.   In prior positions I've supported Outlook 97, 98, and 2000.  I've used those versions as well as 2002 (AKA Outlook XP).  For me it was always a slow, buggy app with an interface I didn't particularly like.

But so far Outlook 2011 is mostly working well.  We've noticed one bug when trying to schedule meetings when a participant is still on the Exchange 2003 server.  Specifically, the times shown on that person's calendar will be off by an hour.  Until everyone is migrated I'll just use Outlook Web Mail for scheduling meetings.

One thing I thought was interesting was that Office 2011 installed alongside 2008.  This is a very good feature, allowing easy rollback.  The Office for Mac team also did a good job with the migration features for Entourage to Outlook.  Outlook imported my Entourage profile seamlessly, including the server configuration and account info.  It took about 10 minutes to import my profile and setup connectivity to the server.

Outlook allows me to search our Global Address List remotely even if I'm not VPNed in.  This will be nice.

Another feature greatly anticipated by many people wanting to switch from Windows but stuck because they rely on Outlook was the lack of an easy way to migrate emails from Outlook .PST files.  Well, Outlook 2011 can read .PSTs, though it stores messages, contacts, etc. in a different format.  This will be useful for a few of my coworkers.

As for the interface, either the Outlook Mac interface is greatly improved cf. the last version I used on Windows, or my reaction to it has mellowed.  It's actually pretty decent.  Likewise, the rest of the Office apps share the "ribbon" interface introduced with Office 2007.  A lot of folks hated the ribbon but I actually like it.  So far I haven't used either Excel or Word very much so I don't know how they'll compare with the 2008 versions.

I'll post follow ups if I run into any weirdness.


Anonymous said...

We are the unhappy purchaser of Office 2011 for Mac. We had office 2010 installed using a Entourage (which shut down regularly for no reason). Now that we have done the "upgrade" we have found that any ability we had to sync with our mobiles (Blackberry, Nokia and Microsoft mobile) has not been included but we can, MS assures us, purchase Exchange for our 50 + users for a mere US$6900 more!! Or we can wait till June or July 2011 for MS to ad sync.
The other problem is a repeat of the problems we had many years ago when we sent MS Outlook appointments to MS Outlook Express, the mail was a pile of gobbledy gook. That Ms 2010 for PC cannot talk MS 2011 for Mac is a very scary thing. Question: has anybody else found this? and if so is there a work around. If not I want my money back!

Anonymous said...

There is a work around, but its not goo, you need to find an old copy of Entourage 2008 to work with Exchange 2003. After achieving that, the only problem I have come up with is entourage not having a dictionary loaded for spell check, trying to find a workaround for that as we speak.