Microsoft Beefs Up Exchange Support In Mac Office

The newest version of the suite includes better security and much-enhanced Exchange connectivity.

Microsoft's Macintosh group on Tuesday released the second Service Pack (SP2) for the Mac version of Office, and emphasized enhanced connectivity to Microsoft Exchange.

Like all service packs, Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac SP2 includes security fixes that have been previously released, but the highlight, according to Microsoft, is expanded Exchange Server functionality for the suite's e-mail client, Entourage 2004.

Among the features new to SP2 is the ability to set up delegate access through Entourage without having to use Outlook (the Windows cousin of Entourage) on a PC. Other improvements include improved e-mail and calendar management, enhanced public folder support, and faster client-server synchronization. The Exchange improvements in SP2 require Exchange Server 2000 or later.

One notable feature not included in SP2, however, is support for Apple’s Spotlight search tool, part of the newest operating system, Mac OS X 10.4. Entourage e-mails still cannot be indexed by Spotlight.

At some future date -- Microsoft has not yet defined a release roadmap -- Office 2004 will be replaced by a Mac version of Office 12, the Windows edition of which is to hit shelves in late 2006 or early 2007. Microsoft has already promised to provide converters that will let Office X and Office 2004 for the Mac read the XML-based file format, which Office 12 for both Windows and the Mac OS X will use.

Office 2004 SP2 can be downloaded directly from Microsoft's Web site, or via AutoUpdate later Tuesday.

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