Microsoft Updates Office for Mac OS X

Microsoft enhanced support for Exchange Server in its Entourage e-mail client for Mac OS X, releasing Office 2004 for Mac Service Pack 2 on Tuesday. The update also includes changes across the entire Office product line, as well as bug fixes for common issues.

The company hopes that the tighter integration with Exchange will encourage its business Mac users to switch to Entourage, which competes with Apple's built-in Mail client. SP2 builds on basic support for Exchange server first introduced in 2004.

Improvements in e-mail and calendar management, enhanced public folder support, and faster synchronization with Exchange servers are the focuses of the upgrade. Access to the server Global Address List has also been enhanced.

“For SP2, we worked with the Exchange Server team so that together we can help our enterprise customers collaborate seamlessly across platforms," Scott Erickson, Microsoft's Mac BU product management director, said. "We're in constant communication with our customers, and we're acting on their requests for improved tools and a better Entourage experience."

Security updates and high-priority fixes were added to SP2 based on tests by Microsoft in addition to feedback from customers, and data received through the anonymous error reporting that occurs within Office 2004.

Tuesday's update continues a recent trend by Microsoft to bypass consumer Mac users and instead focus on enterprise customers using the platform. Back in 2003, Microsoft officially stopped development of Internet Explorer for Macintosh. In March 2005 Microsft nixed MSN Internet Service for Mac OS X.

Microsoft released Messenger for Mac 5.0 in August, but the update included no consumer-side enhancements to the communications client, instead offering enhancements to corporate messaging.

Nonetheless, Microsoft claims it is still listening to Macintosh customers and says it remains committed to the Mac OS X platform.

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