Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Mac on SBS - Microsoft Office for Mac 2004 & Parallels Coherence

We just received our Office Standard 2004 for Mac via Open Value licensing.

Integration with pre-2007 version documents and spreadsheets are seamless. Opening and modifying between the PC and Mac versions works well.

I am hoping that the Office for Mac version that is supposed to be shipping sometime later this year or early next year will share the same XML basis for its files as the current Office 2007 for PC. This will make working with files between Mac and PC that much simpler. Given that the PC Office 2003 and Mac Office 2004 versions work well together, I am trusting that we will see the same happen between the PC Office 2007 and Mac Office 2008.

Entourage, the Mac somewhat equivalent to Outlook e-mail client works somewhat okay integrated into our SBS based Exchange environment. It picks up the Inbox setup with the huge number of nested folders as well as the Calendar with the nested Calendars too.

Entourage 2004 is missing a huge chunk of functionality though. :(
  • No Exchange based Tasks
  • No Exchange based Notes
  • No Public Folder shared Tasks or Notes
  • Calendar Category functionality is extremely limited (versus Outlook 2003 or 2007)
Because of the timeline between now and when the new Office for Mac 2008 will be released, we may end up with a Parallels based Vista installation running the appropriate Windows based applications in Coherence mode.

I do believe that Parallels Coherence may be the single reason why Microsoft reversed their virtualization licensing intentions for Windows Vista Home editions. About 5 months ago, Microsoft announced that they were considering allowing us to run virtually any version of Vista in a virtualized environment.

Well, that was probably based on the assumption that the Mac user would be flipping back and forth between the Mac and Windows environment. In reality though, this is not the case.

Parallels Coherence is a feature that is identical to one of the new Server 2008 Terminal Services features (was originally SoftGrid on TS 2003): The ability to have an icon on the desktop that a user can click on and "run" an application. In reality, much like a Remote Desktop connection, all they are seeing is a "picture" of the application running. Everything is actually being done on the terminal server somewhere else.

So, the user clicks on the Outlook 2007 icon on their desktop, and up comes "Outlook 2007" seemingly running on Mac's OS X. The user is oblivious to the fact that nested somewhere on their Mac is a Vista environment with Office 2007 actually installed in it! With the Windows Vista environment unseen like that, the writing is on the wall as far as Joe User thinking that they are now running Office 2007 on their Mac.

Thus, we hear recently that Microsoft did an about face on Windows Vista virtualization: Only Vista Business and Ultimate can be virtualized.

On ZDNet: Microsoft flip-flops on Vista virtualization. Mentions the software vendor Parallels specifically.

We downloaded the trial version of Parallels and installed a trial version of Vista Business on it. Next up is adding the Virtualized Vista to our SBS domain with the Office 2007 following. From there we will start playing with Coherence. It is definitely something to look forward to!

Need QuickBooks on a Mac? Heh :D

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

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