We received this post from our good friends over on the MacBU team - enjoy!

It's been an exciting few weeks for us in the Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) at Microsoft. We released some details about the direction we're taking with Exchange. First, Entourage's Exchange engine got an overhaul.  Entourage 2008, Web Services Edition completes the transition from the legacy WebDav protocol to the current generation of Exchange client development, Web Services. We also pulled back the curtain on our roadmap and announced plans for a Mac version of a product you're all familiar with, Outlook. A Mac version of the best and most full-featured Exchange client going will be a part of the next release of Office for Mac.

The transition to Exchange Web Services (EWS) began during the development of Entourage 2008. Of course, we had been working with the Exchange team since well before Entourage 2008 or Exchange 2007 shipped, but with the move to a new client API in Exchange 2007, we had an opportunity to collaborate at a different level, something we sorely missed when we built on WebDav. We've been working with our friends on the Exchange team, literally on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, to make EWS great. With the Exchange 2007 SP1 release, EWS feature additions like Public Folders, made it possible to build on EWS with all the same features we had on WebDav. Our contributions to the design of API have also opened the door wider for newcomers to the Exchange party.

It has been great seeing the results of building on EWS. With the update to Entourage, Web Services Edition the core experience takes a big step forward. Sync performance is dramatically better and longtime requests like Task, Note, and Category sync have arrived. Also, with changes to Exchange 2007 architecture and the addition of the Exchange Business Logic Layer, reliability and workflow consistency with other clients like ActiveSync, Outlook, and OWA will be even better.

We've come a long way for our enterprise customers since retrofitting Entourage X with IMAP and WebDav to support Exchange. Since then we've dedicated ourselves to truly understand what they need from an Exchange client. With all the Macworld/WWDC discussions, customer onsite meetings, enterprise road show events, and beta feedback under our belt, we've certainly taken some well-deserved lumps, but we've also gained a real insight into what our customers must have in an Exchange client on the Mac. That is Outlook for Mac.

With the foundation we've built on EWS, the burden lifted, with complex business logic overhead and ownership moving to the server, you'll see an accelerated pace of innovation and compatibility with Outlook 2007/2010, better design, experiences, and integration with Mac technologies (hint: time machine). We'll have more to say about Outlook for Mac in the coming months. For now, if you're using Entourage 2008 and Exchange 2007 SP1RU4+ or have an outlook.com account, I encourage you to update right away. If your organization is on Exchange 2003, you'll want to update to the latest version of Entourage 2008. Whatever the version that's right for you, you'll enjoy the most full featured Exchange client on the Mac, with enterprise-ready features like Public Folders, Out of Office, and Outlook-compatible delegation.

-- Richard Kmieciak
   MacBU Program Manager