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Snow Leopard and Microsoft Exchange first impressions


One of the things touted in this latest incarnation of Mac OSX was its ability to work with Microsoft Exchange using Apple's Mail, Address Book and iCal applications. Well, I'm happy to report that Snow Leopard does, in fact, work pretty well with Exchange 2007.

Granted, this is only after limited testing, and it doesn't, as yet, work as well as Outlook for Windows, but it is a step in the right direction. One thing to consider before we go on is the fact that Snow Leopard will only play nicely with Exchange 2007 so if you don't have it or are not planning on having it, these new Exchange features in Snow Leopard won't work for you. You'll have the same access to Exchange 2003 from Mail (via IMAP) and Address Book that you did under Leopard.

That said, these new features of Snow Leopard offer a nice alternative to using the previous version of Entourage or the new Web Services Edition. Fortunately, if you are running Snow Leopard and Exchange 2007, setup could not be easier. All you need to do is launch Apple's Mail and select "Preferences" from the "Mail" menu.

Read on for more...

Once that new window opens, simple click on the "Accounts" button and then click on the "+" sign to create a new email account. Once the screen to create a new account appears, simply type in the email address for your Exchange 2007 account and the password. Once that's done, Mail will autodiscover the correct Exchange information (provided your Exchange 2007 server is set up properly for this) and populate the correct information automatically.

During this process you will also be prompted to include Address Book and iCal sync. Allowing this will create a new account in both your Address Book and in iCal which will contain your Exchange information. This new account will show up in the left column of both Address Book and iCal as your Exchange account. This will also allow you to use the Exchange Global Address List as well as your own personal contacts when sending email in Mail.

In addition, you can set events, meetings, appointments, etc. in iCal and invite other users in your organization to attend them. They can then, in turn, respond and confirm or deny attendance or suggest an alternative time or date for the event. So far, this works pretty well, but I haven't had time to test it more thoroughly; I will update this article as I do.

These new features in Snow Leopard are pretty cool and a welcome addition to OS X -- especially for those of us who need to work in a mixed environment. As I get more time to explore these new features of Snow Leopard and Exchange, I'm sure I'll find more things to like about the way they work together -- and probably a few things not to like as well. We've had a report from some early users who are having trouble sending any file attachments over 8 MB in size, and another report of spurious meeting change notifications when canceling recurring meetings; though I haven't experienced these particular issues, please do let us know if you are seeing them or other gotchas with Snow Leopard & Exchange.

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