Microsoft provides sneak peek at next version of Apple-based productivity suite and discloses changes to current lineup.
Microsoft said Thursday that it plans to develop a new version of its Outlook e-mail client for Apple computers to replace its Mac-based Entourage product. The software maker also disclosed new additions to its current Mac Office lineup.
The move, which will go into effect with the next version of Microsoft Office for Mac, gives Redmond a unified e-mail and calendaring product line for the tech market's two major desktop platforms—Windows PCs and the Mac OS.
"Outlook for Mac will bring features our customers have long requested—such as Rights Management—that make working across platforms even easier," said Eric Wilfrid, general manager for Microsoft's Mac Business Unit, in a statement.
"I think people will see that this move to Outlook for Mac is more than just a name change," Wilfrid added.
Microsoft said Outlook for Mac would feature built-in support for Apple's Cocoa development environment, a new high-speed database compatible with Time Machine archiving and Spotlight searching, and improved information rights management tools.
Microsoft has not released a ship date for the next version of Mac Office, but new editions of the product usually ship one year after the release of a new PC edition. The next version of Microsoft Office for PCs is slated to debut next year with the release of Office 2010.
Microsoft on Thursday also released an update to the current version of Entourage. Entourage 2008 for Mac, Web Services Edition, features improved tools that allow users to more efficiently sync Tasks, Notes, and Categories with other programs, Microsoft said.
A number of large organizations, including NASA and Wesleyan University, are currently testing the new Web Services Edition of Entourage, which Microsoft is positioning as a stepping stone to Mac Outlook. "Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server have been cornerstones of communications and collaboration for enterprise customers," said Takeshi Numoto, corporate VP for Microsoft's Office product management group, in a statement.
"Today's release of the Web Services Edition strengthens Exchange connectivity for Entourage customers and sets the stage for the move to the new application," said Numoto.
Finally, Microsoft on Thursday announced new additions to the Mac Office 2008 lineup.
Mac Office 2008 for Home and Student is currently available for $149. Mac Office 2008 Business Edition ships Sept. 15 and includes advanced features such as Exchange Server connectivity and Entourage Web Services. It's priced at $399, with an upgrade version available for $239.