Today Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) announced that Microsoft Outlook 2001 is coming to the Mac (see separate story). Outlook is a messaging and collaboration client designed to address the need for a single messaging and collaboration client by letting users find, organize and view all of their information in one place using a consistent interface. That info includes e-mail, contacts, personal distribution lists, a calendar, meeting planner, tasks, and notes.
Kevin Browne, general manager of the MacBU, said that together with Microsoft Exchange Server, it helps businesses achieve better results by making it easier to seamlessly communicate, collaborate and share information with the millions of people using Outlook today.
Outlook 2001 for the Mac uses the same data formats as Outlook 2000 for Windows, allowing users of the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client to easily communicate and share information across the Mac and Microsoft Windows operating systems, he added. Mac users can send and receive e-mail, schedule meetings, manage contacts and share folders with the same capability as users of Outlook for Windows.
In addition, the Outlook 2001 beta has been built from the ground up as a world-class application for the Mac, taking advantage of key Apple technologies and the unique capabilities of the Macintosh operating system, Browne said. The Outlook 2001 beta works with all versions of Microsoft Exchange Server to ensure that organizations deploying Exchange have immediate access to a comprehensive e-mail client for their Macs.
A Preview Pane displays the complete contents of any selected message without opening a separate window. The Outlook Calendar module is fully integrated with e-mail, contacts and other features.
The meeting planner makes it easy to schedule group meetings, according to the MacBU. The planner helps users choose attendees, check available times and send meeting invitations. The planner can automatically pick the next available time for all attendees.
From the Outlook Contacts module, users can send e-mail, look up a phone number or jump to Web sites, including the Expedia online travel service to get information or view a map of a contact’s address.
Outlook 2001 allows users to create distribution lists directly in their Contacts folder, so they can address e-mail or meeting requests to groups of people using a single, convenient name.
Outlook 2001 is the premier client for Exchange Server. Business managers who use Exchange Server and Outlook together will gain more effective ways to foster collaboration across virtual teams and interaction with customers, according to Browne.
Users can now manage how they share information with others in one easy-to-use location: the Outlook Preferences Sharing Panel, where users can select who they want to have permission for certain actions such as reading calendar items, sending e-mail on their behalf and viewing private items. Users also can check a box to send an e-mail summary to other users about what they have permission to do.
Tight integration between the Outlook calendar and e-mail functions makes organizing meetings easy, according to the MacBU. Outlook 2001 has drastically simplified the process of creating, accepting and updating meetings, building on usability, and customer feedback, they added
A user with Delegate Access can access another user’s folders in Outlook and complete actions on that user’s behalf. A delegate can be given permission to send messages, reply to e-mail and schedule meetings. And it doesn’t matter whether the delegate or the other user is on the Mac or Windows platform.
Users can give permission to allow other Outlook users to open one or more of their Outlook default folders (inbox, calendar, contacts, tasks, etc.) and read, create or edit information in the folders. This capability works for users on both platforms. Plus, administrative assistants and other users who regularly manage or open other people’s calendars on Exchange can choose from the 10 calendars they most recently opened.
Public folders are places where users can share info regardless of whether they’re on the Mac or Windows platform. For example, a team could set up a public folder containing shared contacts. All members of that team would then have a shared contact database from within Outlook. Public folders also can be used to create shared discussion forums, team calendars, tasks or even Office documents.
Outlook 2001 is compatible with Outlook Web Access, which enables users to access information stored on Exchange Server via the Web. Outlook Web Access provides e-mail, calendaring and contacts functionality. It supports embedded items such as messages, appointments and meeting requests, as well as contacts and posts. Outlook Web Access also supports public folders that contain contact and calendar items, named URLs that reference items and multimedia messages.
Outlook 2001 beta will take advantage of key Apple technologies and the unique capabilities of the Mac operating system, said Browne, offering features such as simplified menus, keyboard shortcuts and high-color visuals.
The user interface has been rewritten from the ground up to work like an application for the Mac, including Appearance Manager support, the same shading and toolbars used on Office 2001 for the Mac, and the Finder-like shading in the folder list and mail view, Browne said.
Users can install Outlook using drag-and-drop install. Just drag the Outlook folder from the CD to the hard drive and accept the license agreement. Users simply fill out two fields — server name and user name — in one dialog box. They can be up and running, connected to the server, in less than a minute, Browne said. If the user makes a mistake, a dialog box appears and explains the error. The dialog box includes a Troubleshoot button that users can click to receive step-by-step instructions for fixing the error.
Users can choose from 16 background color themes to personalize the way Outlook appears on their computer. These themes are designed to make the computer workspace more pleasant by matching the color schemes of popular Macs and desktop patterns.
The Outlook 2001 beta consolidates all reminders into a single window, where they can be managed with a single click. This window includes reminders for appointments and meetings as well as for tasks that are due and e-mails and contacts that need to be followed-up. Users of Outlook can easily snooze or dismiss any or all of their reminders with a single click.
Outlook uses the Mac OS Notification Manager to send reminders when users are working in another program. A small, yellow pop-up window appears in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. This subtle window does not steal the cursor or otherwise interrupt the user from their task at hand. When ready, users can switch to Outlook to see the full reminder.
The Outlook 2001 beta magnifies e-mail text, so Mac users can easily read e-mail sent by Windows users. Without the magnification, text coming in from users of Windows will appear smaller and more difficult to read on a Mac than on a Windows-based computer, Browne said.
It’s integrated with the familiar Macintosh Help Center. When users search for help in Help Center, Sherlock search technology is used to return results in both Mac Help and Outlook Help.
Outlook 2001 supports Apple’s Keychain technology on Mac OS 9 or later, so users don’t need to enter a password each time they start Outlook. User names and passwords are stored in the secure Mac OS keychain, giving quick access to Outlook as soon as they log on to the computer.
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