Would you let a product from Bill Gates’ Microsoft control your Mac life? I do. I’m only being honest.
I’ve used it for many years and it’s my daily routine to bask in the glory of the one Microsoft product that’s worthy enough to live on my Mac.
I’ve long needed an application that was central to my day-to-day routine of email, schedules, to-do lists, reminders, and the countless projects that make up the life of a blonde on the go.
Years ago, the defacto tool for business compatibility was Microsoft’s Office, Mac or Windows. In many ways, that’s still the case today.
Microsoft’s Mac Office rules, not so much because we love it, but more because it works well, behaves more like a Mac application than a Windows application, and is mostly compatible with the rest of the business world (Windows and Microsoft Office for Windows).
Remarkably, after all these years, and many Mac applications later, I’m still using Microsoft Office.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not like Microsoft; as a company, their products, or their business methods. As a suite of applications, Office for Mac is still bloated with features, most of which don’t get used.
Inside that bloated mountain of code, and the myriad point and click options is a single gem, so bright and shiny that I let it run my life.
Entourage 2004 may be the best personal organizer for a busy person ever devised on a Mac. Those are heady words from an avowed Microsoft hater, right?
In fact, the latest iteration of Entourage on the Mac may be the best combination productivity tool on any computer system. Ever. I try others from time to time, but Entourage is a tough act to beat.
Apple’s Mail has matured. The integration between iCal, Mail, AddressBook, iSync, and .Mac is commendable. But I let Entourage run my day-to-day activities.
Why? Entourage works better. It covers the bases that most busy people require; email, projects, tasks, alerts and alarms, to-do lists, notes. Entourage brings them all together in a single application that’s affordable, stable, dependable, and easy to back up.
To be honest, Microsoft’s philosophy of feature creep continues in the Mac Business Unit of the Windows maker, and shows in Office 2004 for Mac OS X.
Truly, there are many features I have never used, can’t find, and wouldn’t know how they work if I accidentally clicked them into operation. Office is that complex.
So is Entourage, though decidedly less so than Microsoft’s behemoth Outlook and required Exchange Server Tax. Entourage has plenty of options from which to choose. It’s not a simple learning curve to master this little beast.
Since I’ve been using Entourage before the Mac OS 9.x days, I’ve grown accustomed to the basics, and picked up on the new features as they’ve been added.
Entourage integrates what most of us with hectic business lives really need. Email. Projects. Tasks. Calendar. Address book. What else do you need?
Arguably, Apple’s Mail is nearly as good as Entourage Mail, but with fewer features. Search in Mail is better and faster than Entourage. But Apple doesn’t have anything like the integrated Projects and Tasks and alarms you’ll find in Entourage.
Perhaps it’s that integration that’s attractive. iCal is nice. AddressBook is decent. But coordinating all those pieces is a challenge, despite trying out every project and task application on the Mac planet.
Entourage starts you off with a Center. Icons for Mail, Address Book, Calenda, Notes, Tasks, and Project Center point the way to each application.
Create a Project, assign Tasks to the Project, assign an alert/alarm to the Task, assign the Task to the Calendar. In true Mac style, it just works.
As with iCal, Entourage Calendar lets you drag and drop and modify with just a click. Click on Tasks and you can see which have been assigned to a Calendar date for execution (sounds ominous, doesn’t it?)
Any Task in the Calendar which isn’t completed on time (schedules change, you know) can be dragged to a different time, and Entourage handles the back end adjustments.
The real value comes in the integration of basic components; Mail and Address Book work together, Calendar and Project Center and Tasks work together.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, as Tasks can be assigned via email to others.
Even better, the latest version of Entourage allows for integration with iCal and AddressBook. I use Entourage only for my business life (granted, that’s most of the day), but iCal and AddressBook for my personal life (remember, I’m a Mac user; I don’t want Microsoft to own my whole life).
What I do in Entourage shows up in iCal so I can see how my work life is infringing on my personal life. In color.
Drawbacks? Yes, and more than a few. I don’t like spending money on Microsoft products. Entourage is just soooo black and white, in dire need of a human interface guru.
Clicks? I long for the day when Apple integrates iCal, AddressBook, iSync, Mail and adds a Project and Task application. Why? Microsoft must have a patent on clicks and double clicks, because Entourage requires plenty of both.
An application this complex won’t be mastered in a day or two, but I’ve not found any single Mac application that does more, for less or more.
For the past year, Mac360 has been on a tear for organization and productivity tools, and the Mac has plenty of good ones, more of which we’ll review in coming months as updated applications emerge.
The basic core requirements to organize a busy work life are met with Entourage. I cringe when I say it, but Microsoft has done well.
Do you run a busy life with hectic and demanding work and schedule requirements? What do you use to keep yourself organized on your Mac? Share your experience and preferences for organizing your life on a Mac via the Comments section below.