Back in April 2011 I wrote a scathing review of Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. I was specifically distressed by the highly touted addition of Microsoft Outlook, because after careful testing, I could reach only one conclusion: it sucks. My solution for the total suckage of Outlook for Mac 2011 was to run Microsoft Office for Windows 2010 on the Macs around my office using a program called Parallels that (in simple terms) allows you to run Windows and Windows compatible programs on your Mac.
This sub-optimal solution became even more sub-optimal as we added more people to Microsoft Exchange. So, some intrepid souls decided to try something radical ... they used Apple Mail, iCal and Address Book to interface with Microsoft Exchange. Low and behold ... praise be to Jobs ... it worked. There were happy Mac Fanboys all over the office singing the praises of Cupertino and loving the fact that Apple was in the business of doing business.
Hallelujah, Apple got its enterprise on. Time for Snow Leopard sock puppets! We were all thinking about making the switch. But ... just as quickly as we had fallen in love with the Apple Mail/Microsoft Exchange solution, came the End of Fanboy Days ... OSX Lion 10.7.x.
There are many wonderful things I can say about Apple's OSX Lion operating system, but compatibility with Microsoft Exchange isn't on the list.
All of our new MacBook Air computers came with OSX Lion 10.7.x preinstalled. As I am fond of saying, my MacBook Air is simply the finest computer I have ever owned ... except for one small issue ... iCal under Lion is incompatible with Microsoft Exchange. A few minutes googling the error message confirmed our worst fears -- Apple knows about the bug and has done nothing to fix it.
The issue is subtle, but it is a deal breaker. Under certain conditions, you can't send and receive meeting requests and get the title of the meeting to show up in iCal. You get a blank meeting. When it happens the first time, you assume that you have done something wrong. After a few more times, you ask your system admin what's up. By the 10th time you lose your meeting info, you type the issue into Google ... that's when the enormity of the situation hits you. You've just opted into a workflow that is completely useless for the doing of business with 92% of the business world. Want a list of compatibly issues; just search for your favorite flavor -- it's not pretty.
To say that we did everything to solve this would be to understate the issue. No eclectic techno-geeky trick was left untried. Bribes to friends at Apple, calls out to hackers, even a FB plea to Fanboys around the world ... all to no avail. :(
The ultimate solution is so sad, I have named it the End of Fanboy Days. We are now the proud owners of a bunch of 17″ HP ProBook 4730s running Microsoft Office Professional over Windows 7 Professional. HP's Value Added Reseller (VAR) channel rocks! If you ever need a bunch of computers that are sturdy, built for business, free of bloatware and ready to use when you get them, call your favorite HP VAR. Talk about flawless integration with Microsoft Exchange -- everything works so perfectly, it's sinful!
I still carry my MacBook Air. For me, it is still the ultimate computer in the galaxy. I don't mind having the crippled Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 running on this computer because I don't do any administrative functions with it. But, if I didn't have an executive admin and an administrative assistant who keep my calendar, I would have to choose between crippled Outlook functions or non-functional appointment compatibility in iCal. Two unacceptable options.
If you don't use your computer for business and don't have to have a computer that is 100% Microsoft Exchange compatible, nothing here really concerns you. However, if you are truly trying to use a Mac running OSX Lion 10.7.x as a business tool to interoperate in Microsoft Exchange environment ... sadly, it is truly the End of Fanboy Days.