Office 2011 Service Pack 1 due next week, improves Outlook compatibility


The upgrade from Microsoft Office 2008 to 2011 has not been without its drawbacks; for users of Entourage who moved to the all-new Outlook for Mac, in particular, there have been a few holes in the feature lineup. None of them are necessarily showstoppers, but the collection of odd omissions has given the flagship mail/calendar/contact management platform an air of unfinished business over the past few months.

Good news, though: Microsoft's Office for Mac blog reports that we will be seeing Service Pack 1 for Office 2011 next week. The big-ticket returning feature for Outlook is calendar support in Sync Services, meaning that Outlook calendars may once again synchronize locally with iCal, BusyCal or tethered iPhones, iPod touch or iPad units through iTunes.

Outlook's punch list also includes editing support for Exchange's server-side rules (which last appeared on the Mac in Outlook 2001 for Mac OS 9!), the return of the Redirect and Resend options in addition to simple message forwarding, and editing of messages in the Inbox. Excel is also getting better Solver integration, and there are sure to be hundreds of other bug fixes and minor improvements.

While the Sync Services calendar support is welcome, it's slightly ironic that it's coming back to Microsoft's PIM at the same time that Apple's MobileMe calendars are transitioning to CalDAV -- which in turn is breaking Sync Services support for those hosted calendars via iCal and BusyCal. That means there still won't be a supported way to get MobileMe calendars to synchronize with Outlook for Mac (or Entourage 2008, for that matter), at least in the short term.

There are some Outlook users who will be able to synchronize to MobileMe's CalDAV servers... but they aren't using Mac OS X. 32-bit versions of Outlook 2007 or 2010 on Windows can indeed sync up to MobileMe, with the help of Apple's MobileMe control panel on Windows XP, Vista or 7.

The Office 2011 SP1 download will be available sometime the week of April 11; we'll let you know when it drops.

Hat tip to The Loop.