Friday, July 6, 2007

What Do You Want in Entourage 2008?

The feature set in Entourage 2008 is done. All we're waiting for is the announcement and to get our grubby virtual fingers on the feature list.

But it won't stop my from ruffling my feathers which I need to do from time to time as I get frustrated as the lone Entourage user among over 400 Outlook users.

Out of Office - you know how many times I come back from a trip and forget that out of office is on, only to be questioned by a customer or another user as to my status? Let me turn it on or off from Entourae and warn me when it's on.

Entourage Today - is there a simple way that I can see my InBox, appointments, and tasks in a single view. And let me add new tasks with one click. And while you're at it, make sure the tasks sync with Exchange too.

Faster Syncing - is there a better way to sync so that it doesn't have to check all my subfolders all the time? Maybe the universal version will just work better for this. I don't know.

Better certificate handling - why do I have keep clicking through root certificate errors when my PC brethren launch and load without any problems?

Display Fonts! I have to set my fonts articifically large so that Outlook users see them at human oriented sizes? If I set my fonts to 10pts, only a Vulcan can read it, or someone with a magnifying glass. I know there is a difference between Mac and PC screen resolution rates. Can't we just all get along?

HTML Display - you know how many times I get an email that looks great in Outlook but looks crappy in Entourage? Or I can't use the forward function to send an HTML email as it came to me (you have to forward as an attachment). Maybe they have this licked with the new rendering engine - I hope so!

Word formatting - no, I don't want to use Word to format my emails - but if it works great as a universal version, I can live with it. But for now, when others use Word to format their signature in Outlook, I get extra spaces between the lines. And the messages I receive don't always turn out right. All we ask is the Word and Entourage people have lunch together with their PC counterparts. Maybe a napkin agreement can put an end to this.

Stationery - I don't use stationery because it just takes up unnecessary bandwidth although once in a while, for a special occasion, it would be nice to use it. Or when someone sends me an email from Outlook with stationery, I wish it would not only look right, but when I reply to the email, it doesn't go all funky.

Colors. You know, Entourage is pretty plain looking. Although I prefer understated looks, Entourge could use a little more blush and lipstick. I actually don't mind the bolder separator bars in Outlook. Maybe add some Leopard looking pizzazz (just not spotted fur themes OK?). I'm sure you can do it tastefully without making it appear tawdry.

iCal syncing options. I need something to protect Entourage from wiping out all it's entries when you delete the synced calender in iCal. Happened to me once. And now I'm getting 4 or five copies of the same event as well. Finally, I just shut the thing off because it was a pain to manage.

Resource management - when I want to reserve a meeting room that is setup as a calendar, it works great doing it in Outlook. Doesn't work too well in Entourage. And if you set the meeting up from the meeting room calendar, your own calendar doesn't reflect the meeting.

Meeting notices - okay - when i get a meeting notice, I would like to know what my calendar looks like before accepting or declining meeting. Maybe they don't need that on Mars but here on Earth, we can't be in two or three places at once. If someone wants to double or triple book a time slot, well, they can do that. But most of us prefer to maintain saner schedules.

Well - what would you like to see in Entourage 2008 or in a service pack? And please, no cussin'. Keep your remarks intelligent, concise, and to the point. The better our responses, the more Microsoft is likely to pay attention to our needs.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

iPhone Disrupting Internet Explorer?

A number of years back, I wrote for another website that in the corporate space, one of Apple's biggest problems is the many browser-based client software requires ActiveX and Internet Explorer. This effectively shuts out the Mac as a desktop client because those apps simply won't work unless something like Citrix or virtual technology is used. So much for browser clients being truly agnostic.

And Microsoft likes it that way because it makes Microsoft money. It keeps businesses buying PC's with Windows installed. It keeps developers buying Microsoft development tools. And allows Microsoft to control the computing industry to suit its own goals. Any company in this position would likely do the same thing.

So the only way for a competitor to change this is to come up with disruptive technology. And the iPhone is exactly that.

The iPhone is a consumer device. But many stock brokers, doctors, insurance agents, realtors, corporate executives are going to buy this device. They will want this to be their primary device. They will show it to their friends. They will pull it out at meetings. They will want to access the same browser-based applications as they do on their PC because it comes with a full fledged browser. And they will be disappointed when they find out it won't work. And they will complain loudly.

And the smart software companies will respond. The dumb ones will die out or be marginalized.

As a backhanded move, Apple released Safari on Windows. I doubt that Apple thought that millions of web users will switch like they did with Firefox. Instead, it gave Apple an easy response to web application developers to make their web sites and browser client applications iPhone friendly. Which turns into Mac friendly. Which means more Macs sold in the corporate space without Apple having to launch a full frontal assault on their Redmond friendlies.

It also means that more websites and developers will embrace open standards, or at least be forced out of lock-in relationships. Which brings competition and innovation. Which plays right into Apple's hands.

Can you imagine a $250 iPhone in a year's time? There are people in multiple industries thinking of that very same prospect now and losing sleep over it.