by Peter Galli on January 07, 2009 05:30pm


Microsoft plans to release new Macintosh software later this year, known as Document Collaboration Companion, that will allow users of Office 2008 for Mac to work with both Office for Windows and Office for Mac colleagues.

This collaboration will be through a Cocoa-based application that provides easier downloading/uploading capabilities to SharePoint products and technologies and Office Live Workspace, it was announced at this week's MacWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

Document Collaboration Companion will include simplified ways to download and upload documents, offline document caching, and SharePoint Workspace, Document Library, and Office Live Workspace access and browsing. Mac-based tools will also be provided to let Office users check shared documents in and out.

The goal of this is to help Office for Mac users tap into the future of productivity as software plus services become an essential combination across platforms.

Document Collaboration Companion will be released in a private beta next month, with a final release later this year.

Entourage, the e-mail client for Office 2008 for Mac, is also getting a makeover. The Microsoft Entourage for Exchange Web Services Beta, to be released later this month, will deliver greater connectivity between Entourage and Microsoft Exchange Server as well as greater parity between Entourage and Outlook. The final release will be available later this year as a free update to Office 2008 users, distributed via Mactopia.

The development of Entourage has also been moved from WebDAV to Web Services, a more modern and robust protocol that enables client applications to communicate with the server running Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 SP1 or later - for better compatibility, performance and reliability.

Performance improvements include email client connections to Exchange Server for email and calendaring support, Tasks, Notes and Categories synchronization, and Autodiscovery.

These moves are good examples of how our industry is changing, and how interoperability and openness can come together. As cloud services become important to Microsoft as a business, cross-platform moves like these just make sense for all of us: Microsoft, the industry and customers.