I have been working in several locations today, a rare treat. I needed a change of scenery from Mobile Tech Manor, but still wanted to beat the insane heat wave in Houston. That meant heading out to coffee shops and the like and that’s where I’ve been working all day. I even completely drained the MacBook battery, triggering a battery swap, something I rarely do unless on a trip. No matter where I’ve been working today and what I’ve been doing, I’ve run up against the same tech news item.
It seems like everywhere I turn on the web I see the news that Microsoft is bringing Outlook to the Mac next year. The next version of Office for the Mac will dump the terrible Entourage and replace it with the real deal — Outlook. This is no doubt good news to some enterprise workers and to those who have been putting up with Entourage’s shortcomings, but I’m afraid it’s too late for me.
I was a die-hard Outlook user for more years than I can count. I was in Outlook all day, every day, and I used features that few ever touch. I was the very definition of an Outlook power user. Outlook was an ingrained part of both my life and my work. I paid for a hosted Exchange Server for years, primarily because of how well it worked with Outlook. Yes, I was an Outlook fanboy.
Then a couple of years ago I started using Macs in addition to Windows systems. I brought the Windows / Outlook mindset with me to the Mac and quickly grew frustrated. I bought Office for Mac and I toiled and toiled with Entourage to make it work as well as Outlook. No dice.
Entourage didn’t play consistently with the Exchange Server; it didn’t like the fact that I used more than one system; it just didn’t work very well for me. I duly updated and upgraded Entourage every time I had the chance, each time hoping that Microsoft would make it work like it should, like my precious Outlook. They produced both programs, right?
As time progressed my frustration grew to the point I couldn’t stand the thought of continuing with Entourage. I would actually approach the Mac with trepidation each morning, wondering what pain Entourage would inflict on me, yet again. I withstood this abuse for far too long before I stuck my head out the window and did my “I’m not gonna take this anymore!” routine.
Dumping Entourage was the smartest, no, the most brilliant thing I have ever done. My days became nice, even fun once again. I began to enjoy my work. I explored other alternatives for working with my email, and eventually I realized that a big, bloated local application, even Outlook, is just not efficient for me. I use multiple devices across platforms, and I realized that a cloud solution was more logical.
I implemented a Gmail method, dumped my Exchange Server, and never looked back. I can honestly say that I can’t remember the last time I had an email-related issue. There is nothing I used to do with a complicated Outlook implementation that I cannot do today, and all with a web browser.
The massive failure (IMO) of Entourage to deliver an effective desktop solution for me is directly responsible for my discovering that I am better off without such a method, and that includes Outlook too. So it’s great that Microsoft is bringing Outlook to the Mac desktop, just not to mine. Too little, too late.