MWSF: MSN Messenger, Tiger support from Microsoft

Microsoft Corp.'s Macintosh Business Unit has announced several updates to products at Macworld Conference & Expo on Tuesday including its plans for the upcoming release of Mac OS X Tiger. Microsoft executives also said that Office 2004 and Virtual PC sales have been going very well for the company.

"We've sold more copies of Office 2004 in three months of availability than we did in the first six months of Office v. X," Microsoft's Scott Erickson, told MacCentral. "Virtual PC hasn't been out as long, but early signs look very good."

Microsoft and Tiger

Erickson said that Microsoft has been working closely with Apple to ensure compatibility with technologies that will be released in the next version of the operating system, expected sometime in the first half of 2005. Of particular note is Spotlight, Apple's advanced search technology.

Spotlight will index and search Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, but unfortunately it will not work with Microsoft's email and information manager, Entourage.

"It won't index Entourage and that's simply due to the way that Spotlight was made versus Entourage," said Erickson. "Entourage saves everything in a database format and we are working with Apple to see how Spotlight can index the database."

Microsoft has also made Entourage compatible with iSync, allowing users to seamlessly sync Entourage to other devices. Erickson said that they have done the work in Entourage to make it a client that will be recognized by iSync. An update for Entourage will be available after Tiger is released.

MSN Messenger 5.0, improved Exchange, PST import wizard

Microsoft announced today that MSN Messenger 5.0 would be released in the first half of 2005, adding several new features. The new version will include improved security and the ability to add users listed in a company’s Global Address List (GAL) or corporate address book and it will enable users to view both personal and corporate messaging accounts from one location.

Support for Exchange will once again be updated adding improvements that allow viewing of multiple calendars and increased integration with a GAL. Enhancements also include better server and client synchronization and permissions, as well as improved public folder experience and mailbox quota management tools. This update will be released during the second half of 2005.

One of the most requested features from customers is to give them a way to import data from Outlook into Entourage, according to Erickson. Microsoft will release a public beta of the PST Import Tool today with the final product being released at a later date.

The future looks bright for Microsoft and Apple

Erickson said that the Microsoft/Apple relationship is going very well. In fact, he said that not only has the company been working on the updates and enhancements announced today, but the Mac team at Microsoft is already hard at work on the next versions of some software.

"Our teams are working on the next versions of Office and Virtual PC," said Erickson. "We will continue to support it [the Macintosh] and have no plans to stop that. We have the compatibility so customers can work in a cross-platform environment and we have 20 years of making that software for the Mac."

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