I'm befuddled. There have been horror stories on Apple Support Forums about
MobileMe synchronization, but also claims that 10.5.6 has improved.

For several iterations of MS Office, I've used Entourage for my calendaring
and contacts, as well as e-mail. I've never been a fan of the monolithic
database, but my handheld was always a Windows Mobile smartphone, and it did
a pretty good job of synchronizing contacts and calendars if I used the
conduits in Missing Sync for Windows Mobile. However, I DETESTED the
Cingular 8125 device.

FINALLY, I've come close enough to the end of my service contract that when
I bought my son a new iPhone 3G for Christmas, ATT let me get an iPhone 3G
myself without paying a premium above the subsidized price (my contract ran
until 04/09, and previously they'd always told me I had to wait until at
LEAST 02/09 before they'd let me upgrade, so if anyone else is waiting to
get an iPhone in similar constraints, you might check with ATT.

ANYWAY, here's my dilemma. I've managed to get changes I make in Entourage
2004 to show up in Address Book and the dedicated "Entourage" calendar in
iCal, locally, only on my desktop machine (a Mac Pro); I do this by setting
Entourage Preferences to Synchronize Contacts, Calendars, and Notes with
Address Book, iCal, and "dot-mac"). I also have a Dymo Turbo Labeler
attached to that Mac, and when I change something in Entourage, the changes
show up in the database that the Dymo Label software uses (it "sees" Apple's
Address Book).


Now, here's the rub (I've droned on about this before, and I hope you'll be
patient). I like to keep my Entourage Database absolutely identical on my
Mac Pro and my MacBook Pro, so I've been compulsive about NEVER using ANY
Office 2004 applications while away from home without making the very first
thing I do when the two machines are once again on the same subnet a
synchronization of my "~/user" folder. I use "Synchronize Pro X" to do this,
and it's quite speedy about getting it done. I learned painfully that even
opening Word and closing it, or peeking at an Excel worksheet somehow makes
changes to Entourage's "Database" file, which is why I NEVER run Office apps
concurrently on the two machines.

Of course, making this work has meant keeping Office Notifications turned
off, too. I get notifications on the Mac Pro from iCal, and they've shown up
on the Cingular 8125 as well. I don't get any appointment notifications on
the laptop.

In Tiger, I had my "dot-mac" preferences in iSync set NOT to synchronize
contacts or calendars, so on my laptop, the Address Book and iCal databases
are empty. That's OK, because I have a complete set in Entourage on the
MacBook Pro thanks to Synchronize! Pro X.

The iPhone, of course, adds a new wrinkle. It's retrieving Calendar and
Contact information when tethered to the Mac Pro by USB, and I THINK it's
using MobileMe to do so, but I'm not quite sure HOW, because on the Mac Pro
I've disabled synchronization of Contacts and Calendars with MobileMe. I
assume SyncServices is handling the LOCAL updates between Address Book/iCal
and Entourage on the Mac Pro.

(so, when is this guy going to get to his QUESTIONS, already!)

Right now.

1. I now possess a device that can get my e-mail to me in real time if I
want it. Not sure I really do, but my sense is that it might work better
between Apple's Mail and the iPhone than between Entourage and the iPhone (I
have no REASON to believe that other than that there have been lots of
issues between Apple and MS regarding synchronization. Is this the time to
dump Entourage in favor of Mail/iCal/Address Book?

2. I bought Office 2008 the day it was released, but the install DVD has
never seen the inside of a Mac, largely because of problems people reported
and because the "Missing Sync for Windows Mobile" conduits didn't work with
Office 2008. That's no longer an issue with the iPhone. What's the current
consensus regarding the stability and Mac OS integration of Office 2008 vs.
2004? I don't use Excel "apps" that require Visual Basic, so that's no issue
for me.

3. At my medical practice, we're finally going to set up our practice
website on a local server running Windows Server 2008 Small Business
Edition. One possible reason to stick with Entourage might be to enable
secure email via an Exchange Server (Exchange Server 2007 is part of the
Small Business Server bundle). Is THAT a reason to stick with Entourage?
I've not paid much attention to the Exchange Server discussions here
previously, but my gestalt is that support is better in Office 2008 than it
was in 2004.

4. Does MobileMe work well enough that I can now use IT to keep my contacts
and calendars up to date on two different computers and my iPhone, and keep
the data synchronized between Entourage and Address Book on both computers?

(I don't think I'll do that, in part because I still use POP for my main
email account with my ISP, but I'm curious).

Sorry to drone on so long, but I wanted to make my questions clear. Thanks
so much for any help!

Jim Robertson

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