Anyone whos tried out a beta of or otherwise seen Ximians upcoming Evolution mail and calendaring client probably did the same initial double take I did: The software looks amazingly like Microsofts Outlook, down to the ordering of buttons, images used on icons, choice of fonts, and position and selection of on-screen shading.
The effort isnt just an issue of trying to use interface ideas that have been proved to work (and already focus- tested by someone else). Ximian developer Chris Lahey told me at LinuxWorld in New York that his company intends for Evolution to become a drop-in corporate replacement for Outlook someday and that the user interface similarities are a key way for IT to avoid having to retrain employees.
Lahey told me the top two questions the company gets about Evolution are whether it can act as a Microsoft Exchange server client (not yet, but work is ongoing in this area—apparently the protocols are encrypted) and whether Ximian has enterprise calendaring server plans (it doesnt). Evolution 1.0 is expected to ship this summer.