Upcoming Improvements to Microsoft Office 2004

When Office 2004 was first announced for OS X, many new features were touted.  One set of services centered around synchronizing Entourage data with handheld devices.  I was excited because it meant that I would finally be able to sync my Entourage address book with my cell phone.  It would also mean that I could import dates and appointments into my PDA.  But when Office 2004 shipped, these features were missing.  Furthermore, no one really acknowledged the missing features.  It was as if the information I had read prior to the release has simply never been published.

It looks like this was not just an oversight.  Microsoft has finally promised to deliver on synchronization services when it ships an update to Office in March of 2006.  With it, we will finally be able to sync mobile devises with Entourage.

Another interesting new feature is due at the same time.  Entourage will finally become Spotlight friendly.  It has been at a disadvantage since Spotlight was added to the operating system.  With this new feature, all of the data stored in Entourage will finally become available to Spotlight making the wealth of information stored in Entourage instantly available.  And, given how slowly Entourage searches for information, this feature will be a powerful addition.

Microsoft had previously stated that Spotlight support in Entourage would not be immediately available.  They even went so far as to explain that support for Spotlight might not be possible.  Due to the applications database design, there was no easy way to allow Spotlight access to the information.  This lead many people to favor Apple’s own Mail application.  Evidently the engineers at Microsoft did not give up on the idea.

So what will this update cost?  That maybe the best news of all.  The update will be free!

Along with the announcement of these updates, Microsoft has committed to updating Office for a minimum of the next 5 years.  Given Microsoft’s recent decision to abandon support for both Internet Explorer for the Mac as well as Windows Media Player for the Mac, this should put people’s minds at easy.


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