With the recent release of Office 2011 for the Mac, Outlook makes a welcome return, spearheading the way toward full feature parity between Outlook on Windows and Mac. Finally, will your Mac users will be able to do everything their Windows counterparts can? Is Outlook 2011 for Mac just an improvement on Entourage 2008 EWS edition, and will Mac users need something like VMware Fusion plus Outlook 2010 to gain all the features they need for full interoperability with Exchange?
And with OWA becoming truly cross-platform, does this provide enough features to by-pass the desktop install of Outlook completely on the Mac and provide email access to Mac users via the browser?
The answer to both those questions isn’t a straightforward one and depends on what you actually need…
After a few weeks of usage, Outlook 2011 feels more like Entourage than than it does Outlook – it seems obvious what code it’s based upon and it’s certainly not inheriting anything from the Windows version. But as a mail client it feels more accomplished than older versions of Entourage did, and is easy to work with if you’re used to Outlook on a Windows PC.
When it comes to OWA 2010 SP1 – There has been a lot of improvement over previous versions, but it seems that the OWA and Outlook teams don’t work closely together, as UI inconsistencies are common both in the way features work and are named (e.g. Calendar sharing features). This is muddled further as OWA’s Options / Exchange Control Panel is essential for Outlook 2010 operation, for example when configuring Unified Messaging features.
Getting down to the nitty gritty of the features however and it’s a complex story. Outlook 2011 doesn’t have feature parity with either Outlook 2010, OWA 2010 or even Outlook 2007. It’s got a smattering of features from all three. OWA 2010 fairs a lot better when it comes to Exchange 2010 feature support (obviously), but misses out useful features like contacts importing that are present in competitor webmail applications like GMail.
To make comparisons a little easier, I’ve went through and checked/tested the features that are most important to me and compiled a short comparison table. It’s now updated to cover Outlook 2011 SP1, but if you think anything is missing or needs amendment, let me know in the comments.
Outlook Comparison Table
|Feature||Feature Description||Outlook 2010||OWA 2010 SP1||Outlook 2011|
|AD Rights Management Services||Protects messages from unauthorised access.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Address Book Defaults||Allows a default address list (such as Contacts, GAL) to be chosen||Yes||Yes (Limited)||No|
|Autodiscover Compatibility||Automatic setup of Exchange account||Yes||N/A||Yes|
|Auto Archive||Automatically moves older items to a local PST||Yes||N/A||No|
|Calendar Preview in Meeting Requests||Meeting requests show a preview of adjacent or conflicting appointments||Yes||No||Yes|
|Conversation Actions||Ignore and Clean Up/Delete buttons||Yes||Yes||No|
|Conversation View||Improved Conversation Threading||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cross Forest Mailbox Move Support||Auto reconfigure using auto discover||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|CSV Contacts Import/Export||Import/ Export CSV files in a standard format||Yes||No||Yes|
|Distribution Group Management||Management of memberships of Exchange Distribution Groups||Yes||Yes||No|
|Distribution Group Expansion||Expand DGs before sending to see all members||Yes||No||No|
|Enhanced Out of Office||Set external/internal message and from/to date range||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Export PST||Allow PST files to be created and data exported||Yes||No||No|
|Federated Sharing Compatibility||Integration to allow access to remote calendar, share local calendar||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Group Schedule View||Combine Multiple Calendars in One View||Yes||No||Yes|
|Import PST||Allow PST files to be imported to the mailbox||Yes||No||Yes|
|Instant Search||Fast searching using pre-built search index||Yes||Yes||Yes (Using Spotlight)|
|Integrated E-Mail Archive||Online Archive Access||Yes||Yes||No|
|Internet Calendar Sharing/Subscription||iCal Calendar Sharing/Server Side Subscription||Yes||Yes||No|
|MailTips||Server side mail tips for OOF, Large DG, permissions to send or comments||Yes||Yes||No|
|Multiple Exchange Accounts||Multiple accounts with different servers or domains||Yes||No||Yes|
|Offline Address Book||OAB access and download||Yes||N/A||Yes|
|Office Communicator Integration||Start converations video, call IM||Yes||Yes (IM)||Yes|
|Outlook Contact Card Photo and Voice Description||GAL Photos and UM Name along with availability||Yes||No||No|
|Outlook Social Connector||Plugins for Facebook, LinkedIn||Yes||No||No|
|Quick Actions||Macros to perform multiple or common actions at once||Yes||No||No|
|Quick View||Allows viewing of compatible attachments without leaving Outlook||Yes||Yes||Yes (OS 10.6 required)|
|Resend Message||Resend button allows you to resend an email||Yes||No||Yes (with SP1)|
|Retention and Archive Policy Management||Set and view retention policy for folders||Yes||Yes||No|
|Ribbon Interface||Office Fluent User Interface||Yes||No||Yes|
|Right-Hand Preview Pane||Message preview shown to the right of messages||Yes||Yes||No|
|Roaming Autocomplete List||Stored Nicknames on the server||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|RSS Aggregator||Subscribe to RSS Feeds from Outlook||Yes||No||No|
|Scheduling Assistance / Availability Service Integration||Real time calendar view for meeting and room bookings||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Server-side Junk E-mail List||Modification of server side junk email allow/block list||Yes||Yes||No|
|Server-side rules||Modification of server side inbox rules||Yes||Yes||Yes (with SP1)|
|Text Messaging through ActiveSync||Access and Send Text Messages via compatible WinMo 6.5 Device||Yes||Yes||No|
|Unified Inbox||Combined view of Inbox across multiple email accounts.||No||N/A||Yes|
|Voicemail Play On Phone||UM play voicemail on phone||Yes||Yes||No|
|Voting Buttons||Allows approval of moderated messages or voting on user generated emails.||Yes||No||No|