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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Exchanging Apple

Comments (13)

My switch to the Mac is not going well.  The evidence for this is that both Amy and I are continuing to work on our PCs even though we have beautiful new Mac Laptops loaded up with software and fully configured.  Every few days I try again – and then bail after an hour or so of frustration.

One of my biggest barriers is Exchange integration.  Since we use Exchange extensively (including Tasks), there’s a meaningful switching cost to move off of it.  Microsoft Entourage 2004 sucks.  I’ve been a beta tester for Microsoft Entourage 2008 which is better, but still doesn’t support a bunch of basic Exchange integration (like Tasks) and has numerous UI yuckiness.

Yeah – I know that I can use Mac Mail and sync with Exchange, but that doesn’t get me very far in a mixed use environment (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks anyone?)  I know I can use Parallels or Fusion to run an XP or Vista image on my Mac to run Outlook, but if I’m going to do that I might as well just live with my PC.  And I know we could switch off Exchange, but I’m not going to begin to try to fathom that (although Ross is playing around with it.)

As I watch all my Mac friends "deal with this" (e.g. Ryan), they make it work but the cost is non-trivial.  It’d be so much easier if Apple would just decide to really support Exchange natively within their apps (and on the iPhone.)

Hmmm – maybe they are

  • Matt Galligan

    It's too bad to hear about your switching problems. I too wish that my BlackBerry tasks synced up to my Entourage. I've been dying to try out Entourage 2008 for quite some time as it does fix a lot of things that 2004 has lacked…things like Out of Office notification and a much much better Calendar function.

    As much as I'm not a Microsoft fan, they sure did it right by Exchange Server

  • rick gregory

    Brad,

    Although I like my Macbook very much, if you need first class Exchange integration, the Mac just isn't an option. You can get mail and do the basics from it but there's just nothing comparable to Outlook for connecting to Exchange on the Mac.

    I think your options really are three-fold:

    1) Use Mail and iCal to connect to Exchange and accept the limits of that way of working.

    2) Break away from Exchange and use something that does what you need but doesn't lock you into a platform.

    3) Use Windows.

    The part of me that bought an original Mac and loves them is jumping up and down saying “Option #2!!!” But only you can gauge the practicality of that. Frankly, in your case, I'd probably use Windows unless you're contemplating a move from Exchange for other reasons. At the end of the day, computers are just a tool, not a religion…

  • http://www.petertdavis.com Peter

    Well, that's what happens when you buy hype instead of the tools you can use.

  • Darren Ehlers

    Zimbra – Full Mac integration and looks exactly like an exchange server

    • Ross

      Darren please describe “full mac integration” – with what client tools? What (other than its web interface) is going to sync that data into an application like Outlook? The answer, unless I'm missing something, is nothing. Sure we can use Mac Mail and iCal but what about tasks (which are huge for Brad and I). Zimbra may fix the backend need for Exchange but not the frontend client solutions.

  • http://www.troylerner.com Troy Lerner

    Brad-

    So, what's your advice for someone contemplating a move to Mac? When on the computer, I think 35% of my time is in Outlook (email and meetings. no tasks.), 10% in Excel, 20% in Word, 20% in Firefox, 10% in PPT, 5% in AIM.

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      At this point, I'd say “don't switch.”

    • http://www.intela.com Jim – Intela

      Oh, Office for Mac sucks too in comparison too Windows version. Especially Excel. Word is fine (but I dont seem to to much more then edit templates and print), and powerpoint is passable but I still turn to my Windows desktop to do heavy editing.

  • http://www.intela.com Jim – Intela

    We are also heavy exchange (and blackberry) users and three of us switched to a Mac in the past few months. Entourage is terrible. freezes on our machines. Parallels was too slow to run outlook. We have all removed parallels and installed VM Fusion which runs much faster. We all run Outlook in Fusion and it is sufficient.

    I seem to spend much of my day on a browser and IM and loved the 17in mac book as a great widescreen notebook that is not too big to carry around. Its a beautiful machine.

  • http://waterhole-forma.blogspot.com/ peter

    I was going through that process of updating my old compaq [T61/ubuntu] when a friend of the family suggested getting a bunch of macs at a discount

  • JL Brunet

    Try to boot up in a Windows partition on your Mac if it's Intel-based. Works great in my Macbook Pro.

    If you want to be able to use both Windows and Mac OSX environments at the same time you'll need to buy another piece of software (either Parallels or VMWare Fusion). I use the later and am very happy with it.

  • http://alankeister.wordpress.com Alan K

    Yeah, exchange was my biggest hurdle when switching my work machine. I had to run Parallels on a separate monitor for it to be worthwhile. But that ended up as a pretty decent solution.

    MS Office apps also suck on the Mac. I kept all my powerpoint, word docs, and spreadsheets on Parallels. And then there is printing from Parallels which is hit or miss. I am not sure it is worth the hassle. The Mac does excel at many things and is a great platform for web developers.

    • Rick Gregory

      The Mac is a great platform for many things, even productivity software. But Brad et al have a prior committment to Exchange. If they were starting from scratch, there's a myriad of ways they could go (I'm loving GMail with my Remember The Milk tasks integrated)… but they're not.

      You can do everything on the Mac you can on Windows even in terms of office software (I'm weird, I like Office 2004 on the Mac), but when a baseline requirement is top notch Exchange integration… it's just not worth it.

      Yes, you can run VMware… but if you're going to spend a significant part of your day in Windows, why are you buying a Mac?

  • rick gregory

    Brad,

    Although I like my Macbook very much, if you need first class Exchange integration, the Mac just isn't an option. You can get mail and do the basics from it but there's just nothing comparable to Outlook for connecting to Exchange on the Mac.

    I think your options really are three-fold:

    1) Use Mail and iCal to connect to Exchange and accept the limits of that way of working.

    2) Break away from Exchange and use something that does what you need but doesn't lock you into a platform.

    3) Use Windows.

    The part of me that bought an original Mac and loves them is jumping up and down saying "Option #2!!!" But only you can gauge the practicality of that. Frankly, in your case, I'd probably use Windows unless you're contemplating a move from Exchange for other reasons. At the end of the day, computers are just a tool, not a religion…

  • Peter

    Well, that's what happens when you buy hype instead of the tools you can use.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/troy_lerner3794 troy_lerner3794

    Brad-

    So, what's your advice for someone contemplating a move to Mac? When on the computer, I think 35% of my time is in Outlook (email and meetings. no tasks.), 10% in Excel, 20% in Word, 20% in Firefox, 10% in PPT, 5% in AIM.

  • Darren Ehlers

    Zimbra – Full Mac integration and looks exactly like an exchange server

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jim122 jim122

    We are also heavy exchange (and blackberry) users and three of us switched to a Mac in the past few months. Entourage is terrible. freezes on our machines. Parallels was too slow to run outlook. We have all removed parallels and installed VM Fusion which runs much faster. We all run Outlook in Fusion and it is sufficient.

    I seem to spend much of my day on a browser and IM and loved the 17in mac book as a great widescreen notebook that is not too big to carry around. Its a beautiful machine.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/indiekid indiekid

    It's too bad to hear about your switching problems. I too wish that my BlackBerry tasks synced up to my Entourage. I've been dying to try out Entourage 2008 for quite some time as it does fix a lot of things that 2004 has lacked…things like Out of Office notification and a much much better Calendar function.

    As much as I'm not a Microsoft fan, they sure did it right by Exchange Server

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    At this point, I'd say "don't switch."

  • peter

    I was going through that process of updating my old compaq [T61/ubuntu] when a friend of the family suggested getting a bunch of macs at a discount

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ross2308 ross2308

    Darren please describe "full mac integration" – with what client tools? What (other than its web interface) is going to sync that data into an application like Outlook? The answer, unless I'm missing something, is nothing. Sure we can use Mac Mail and iCal but what about tasks (which are huge for Brad and I). Zimbra may fix the backend need for Exchange but not the frontend client solutions.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jim122 jim122

    Oh, Office for Mac sucks too in comparison too Windows version. Especially Excel. Word is fine (but I dont seem to to much more then edit templates and print), and powerpoint is passable but I still turn to my Windows desktop to do heavy editing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jl_brunet3806 jl_brunet3806

    Try to boot up in a Windows partition on your Mac if it's Intel-based. Works great in my Macbook Pro.

    If you want to be able to use both Windows and Mac OSX environments at the same time you'll need to buy another piece of software (either Parallels or VMWare Fusion). I use the later and am very happy with it.

  • Alan K

    Yeah, exchange was my biggest hurdle when switching my work machine. I had to run Parallels on a separate monitor for it to be worthwhile. But that ended up as a pretty decent solution.

    MS Office apps also suck on the Mac. I kept all my powerpoint, word docs, and spreadsheets on Parallels. And then there is printing from Parallels which is hit or miss. I am not sure it is worth the hassle. The Mac does excel at many things and is a great platform for web developers.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/rickgregory rickgregory

    The Mac is a great platform for many things, even productivity software. But Brad et al have a prior committment to Exchange. If they were starting from scratch, there's a myriad of ways they could go (I'm loving GMail with my Remember The Milk tasks integrated)… but they're not.

    You can do everything on the Mac you can on Windows even in terms of office software (I'm weird, I like Office 2004 on the Mac), but when a baseline requirement is top notch Exchange integration… it's just not worth it.

    Yes, you can run VMware… but if you're going to spend a significant part of your day in Windows, why are you buying a Mac?

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