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Microsoft Releases New Outlook for Mac for Office 365

Microsoft released new Outlook for Mac software for its Office 365 subscribers today, and announced future roadmap details for Office for Mac.

Office for Mac is Microsoft's premises-installed productivity suite (with Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word) for Apple Mac computers. Microsoft indicated today that Office for Mac users can expect a public beta of the next release in "the first half of 2015," with general availability happening in the second half of that year. In general, though, Microsoft is prioritizing its Office 365 releases over its "boxed" Office for Mac releases.

Outlook for Mac for Office 365
Meanwhile, Microsoft's Outlook for Mac e-mail client solution for Office 365 is available today for commercial subscribers, as well for Office 365 Home, Personal and University subscribers. It's available to commercial subscribers through the Office 365 Portal or via Microsoft's software download page. Consumer subscribers can get it through their My Account link, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft's announcement promised that this release of Outlook for Mac for Office 365 will have a user experience that's more akin to the Outlook used on Windows PCs or the Outlook Web App used on Android, iPad and iPhone devices. Most of the changes are associated with improving performance and reliability issues. In addition, Microsoft added the capability to search for Exchange-archived e-mails. It improved the solution's e-mail push technology for "real-time email delivery." The e-mail download experience is also faster, Microsoft claims.

Known Problems
A problem has already surfaced for organizations using Active Directory Federation Services and single sign-on access to Office 365. They have experienced credentials problems, such as rejected passwords, when trying to access the new Outlook for Mac release. Microsoft indicated today that it is currently working on a solution, according "Allen Z" of Microsoft in an Office 365 forum post:

"Microsoft has been aware of this problem, and our engineers are working on a solution right now," Allen Z wrote in the post. "We'll update this thread to let you know about any progress on this issue."

Microsoft recommends removing Outlook for Mac 2011 before running Outlook for Mac for Office 365, although there's no explanation about why it's recommended. The two solutions can run side by side. Installing Outlook for Mac for Office 365 does not automatically remove Outlook for Mac 2011, according to a Microsoft forum post.

Outlook for Mac for Office 365 has a number of known issues. For instance, organizations wanting to import data from Outlook for Mac 2011 can only do so by importing into an "empty profile." Also, Entourage 2008 and Entourage 2004 data formats aren't supported in the new Outlook for Mac for Office 365. The online archive feature of Outlook for Mac for Office 365 isn't supported if the primary e-mail account is associated with Exchange Server 2010.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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