Outlook In, Entourage Out in Next Office for Mac

The next version of Microsoft Office for Mac, due out in time for holiday sales in 2010, will replace the Entourage e-mail and calendaring client with Outlook, company officials said.

“Entourage is going away and being replaced by Outlook for Mac,” Eric Wilfrid, general manager for Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit, said on a conference call with reporters and analysts.

The next version of Office for Mac will also bring back Visual Basic (VB), he added. VB was cut out of Office 2008 for Mac.

While anticipation ran high prior to Thursday’s call with the Mac Business Unit head, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) did not discuss a rumored version of Office for Apple’s iPhone, a point that Wilfrid labeled as “speculation.”

On Wednesday, Microsoft said that it is working on a version of Office to run on Nokia’s Symbian mobile device operating system, so the speculation wasn’t entirely unwarranted.

However, customers with a desire for more immediate satisfaction don’t have to wait until next year for some of the other changes revealed on the call.

For instance, instead of the current three editions of Office 2008 for Mac, as of Sept. 15, there will now be only two. The current Home and Student edition will continue to exist, while Standard Edition and Special Media Edition will be replaced by Business Edition. Both Home and Student and Business Editions feature the same core applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage.

The new Business Edition will feature Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition, which will take advantage of Web services to provide faster data synchronization so current Entourage users on Exchange will experience improved e-mail and calendaring, Microsoft said in a statement.

The Entourage 2008 Web Services Edition is available for download immediately by Entourage users on Office 2008 for Mac Service Pack 2 (SP2), with all updates applied, and on Exchange 2007 SP1 Update Rollup 4 or later versions.

In addition, Business Edition will also add Document Connection for Mac, which is meant to provide access to documents stored on SharePoint and on Office Live Workspace.

The new Business Edition package will cost $399.95 for the full version, and $239.95 for the version upgrade. Pre-orders will start Aug. 18. Pricing for the Home and Student Edition will remain at $149.95, the company said. Standard Edition was priced at $399.95, while Special Media Edition cost $499.95.

Meanwhile, the new Outlook for Mac application that’s coming in 2010 is being built “from the ground up” using Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Cocoa object-oriented development environment, Wilfrid said.

“It will also have a brand new database that gives Outlook increased reliability and performance,” he added. Outlook for the Mac and Outlook for Windows will be compatible.

Additionally, Outlook for the Mac will also feature information rights management for document control.

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