Over the weekend we migrated to Exchange 2007 (actually its still going for some of our staff). The fact that you need to move and synchronize all your email is just nuts but that’s another story. The 58,000 emails in my inbox took about 20 hours to copy over. Maybe this year we’ll get an email archiving solution.
One of the things that made us want to move to Exchange 2007 is support for Apple Mail, Address Book and Calendar on the Snow Leopard Operating System. So I was very interested in seeing what it was like moving from Entourage (where Mail, Contacts Calendar are all together) to the separate application approach of Apple.
Entourage was OK, but with my massive mailbox (which emails should I delete?) it was getting very slow. Often I’d be waiting 10-20 seconds to get a response. One of the problems is that Entourage uses one huge file to store everything. This means you need to exclude it from your Time Machine back up (which is fine because everything is on Exchange). If your Exchange file gets corrupted then you are in for a world of pain. Another reason is it is sluggish is that Entourage is not developed in Cocoa, the native Leopard development framework.
So with interest, as soon as the Exchange migration completed, I fired up Mail.app. The setup was so easy. Basically you enter your email address and password and mail starts syncing across.
The feel of the applications, especially Mail, feels a bit simplistic but it does what you need to do. There is no native 3 pane view but I found a 3rd party tool called Letterbox to get that.
But everything is so fast. Searching is really easy and it just hums. That is probably because Mail.app stores everything in files and spotlight search is fully integrated. iCal and Address Book seem to work well. The snappiness is also clear when you just open your MacBook to get mail. It seems ready to go immediately.
As Blackberries connect to Exchange, not the Mail client it works exactly as before. We can now use ActiveSync to connect iPhones so we’ll do some speed tests on iPhone vs Blackberry connecting to Exchange.
While the minimal UI is currently attractive, the apps do feel light weight. But with things like GMail, light mail feels better. However I don’t understand why Apple doesn’t target business more and add some easy features to make it just a bit richer. A native 3 pane UI is an obvious omission. A simple formatting toolbar would be nice.
Later this year we’ll see Outlook for the Mac. Looking forward to testing that and to see if I can be lured back.
The bottom line is I like my Mac better without Entourage. It works well.