Can Developers Give Mactel an Enterprise Boost?

By John Rizzo  |  Posted 2006-01-10

Can Developers Give Mactel an Enterprise Boost?

SAN FRANCISCO—Microsoft and a pack of enterprise developers say they are on target for creating Intel-native Mac software despite Apples surprise Macworld Expo release of the first Intel-based Macs six months ahead of schedule.

Microsoft announced that it had signed an agreement with Apple to develop Microsoft Office for Mac OS X for at least the next five years for both Intel and PowerPC Macs.

Microsoft will also port Virtual PC for Mac to the new Macs, enabling Mac users to run Windows at near-native speeds.

"We are committed to moving forward with Virtual PC," said Amanda Lefebvre, marketing manager for Microsofts Mac Business Unit.

Apple has previously stated that it would not prevent developers from enabling Windows to run on the new Macs, but Virtual PC for Intel Macs will enable users to run both Mac OS X and Windows at the same time, without rebooting.

"Users still need to switch between both environments to make the experience less intrusive," Lefebvre said.

Microsoft did not announce when it would ship the new Virtual PC, but users of the new Macs will have to wait for the port.

Unlike the current version of Office, the current version of Virtual PC wont run under Rosetta, Apples support environment for PowerPC-native applications on Intel Macs.

Microsoft also announced that it would switch the next version of Microsoft Office for Macintosh over to the XML-based file formats of Office 12 for Windows. Microsoft again wouldnt give a time frame.

Click here to read more about Apples recent announcements from the Macworld Expo.

"Typically, were on a two- to three-year development cycle. We need to take a look at the Intel-based Macs and how that impacts the transition [to the XML formats]."

Microsoft also announced that it would provide converter software to translate between the current Office and XML formats in order to continue compatibility between the Mac and Windows versions.

In the near term, Microsoft will issue an update for Entourage 2004, version 11.2.3, in March.

The update will add support for Mac OS X iSync, which will allow users to integrate Exchange contacts and calendars with Apple Address Book and iCal. Users will also be able to use Spotlight to search Entourage.

March will also see the release of Microsoft Messenger 5.1, focusing on enhancing its enterprise features. The update will add encryption of file transfers to external contacts.

When a user is logged on to the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server on more than one machine, Messenger 5.1 will be able to tell where to send a message.

IT managers will be able to prevent users from archiving chats in order to comply with some companies archiving policies.

Next Page: Enterprise developers take aim at Microsoft.

Enterprise Developers Take Aim

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Microsofts competitors in the enterprise space were not fazed by Apples earlier-than-expected release of Intel Macs.

"Weve been engineering our product to be as platform agnostic as possible," said Jonathan Crow, Product Marketing Manager of ThinkFree Corp.

The company has released a beta version of ThinkFree Office Server Edition, which supplies Web-based office applications that are compatible with Microsoft Office.

The server, which installs Java applets on the client machines, runs on Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and Solaris. The final version will ship this quarter.

Zimbra Inc. announced that this quarter that it will ship a new messaging server positioned as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange, but running on Mac OS X.

Zimbra Collaboration Suite Network Edition will provide calendaring, contacts, and e-mail to Mac, Windows and Linux clients. The server is also available for Linux.

Users can access the server with Zimbras Web-based client, or use Outlook for Windows, or, for Mac OS X users, Apple Mail, iCal and Address Book.

Zimbra will include an iSync plug-in to sync calendars and contacts with the Mac OS X applications. The goal is to provide client options to enterprise customers.

"The area we want to compete is on the server side," said John Robb, VP of Product Management. "Customers in the Apple space are not happy with what they have right now."

Zimbra is providing migration tools to move users off of Microsoft Exchange version 5.5 and later.

The Collaboration Suite Network Edition offers integration with Microsoft Active Directory for user IDs.

The Zimbra server can support 5000 users and has the ability to cluster with multiple backend servers to support tens of thousands of users.

The Collaboration server also includes backup and recovery and hierarchical storage, moving older messages to secondary storage media.

The Zimbra client provides additional features not possible with other clients.

Combined with the servers ability to hook into enterprise databases, the Web-based Zimbra client can integrate supply systems and calendaring systems into the workflow of e-mail.

For instance, when the user moves the cursor over a part number or purchase order, a pop-up appears with additional information.

Hovering over a URL displays a preview of a Web page, and a date in an e-mail message can bring up a calendar, and an address can bring up a Yahoo map. Clicking a phone number can launch Skype.

Zimbra Collaboration Suite Network Edition will be available for annual subscription fee of $28 per user per year, which includes support.

A free version of the server, the Zimbra Collaboration Suite - Open Source Edition, is also available, but doesnt include support for non-Zimbra clients and lacks the backup and recovery features, among other things.

The company said that version of the server for Intel-native Macs is in the works for release this year.

Next Page: Updated servers.

Updated Servers

Group Logic Inc. announced a free update to ExtremeZ-IP File Server, an AFP file server that runs on Windows and supports Mac clients. The update adds an admin interface for configuring network home directories on the server.

Users will see only their home directory when they log on. Currently, users need to browse for their home directory.

The update will also enable an administrator to use the Microsoft Active Directory profile for a user.

Group Logic also previewed the next version of ExtremeZ-IP Print Server, which adds Bonjour printing capability for Mac OS X users accessing Windows printers.

The print server currently supports LPR and SMB printing, which requires the user to type in an IP address or browse for a printer.

The addition of Bonjour will make Windows printers immediately available in the Mac OS X print dialog.

Another Group Logic product, MassTransit has been updated. The Web-based, high-speed file transfer system now works with Safari and FireFox on Mac OS X and FireFox on Windows. Previous versions required Internet Explorer.

Small Tree Communications demonstrated BlazeFS, a new multi-gigabit remote file transfer application for Mac OS X. The software is targeted at workflows with very large file requirements.

Small tree will bundle BlazeFS with a low-cost 10 Gigabit Ethernet card, the Intel 10GbE CX-4 Network Interface Card, as well as a 12-port 10GbE CX-4 switch from Fujitsu.

The 10 Gig hardware uses copper cabling. Small Tree will supply the Mac OS X drivers. The bundle will ship during the first quarter.

Corky Seeber, president of Small Tree, said that the application software and the drivers would work with Intel Macs without using Rosetta.

"Weve been working directly with Intel engineering," Seeber said. "Right now we dont expect any trouble."

Kerio Technologies Inc. announced that it has acquired the WebSTAR HTTP, FTP and mail servers from 4D.

Kerio representatives said the company considering moving portions of WebSTAR into a future version of Kerio MailServer, which runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Kerio is also Intel-enabling its MailServer collaboration software, which serves contact, calendars and e-mail to multiple platforms. Mac users can access the server with Entourage.

Editors Note: This story was updated to clarify the positions of Microsoft and Kerio.

Following the publication of this story, Amanda Lefebvre, marketing manager for Microsofts Mac Business Unit, offered a clarification of the companys plans for Virtual PC:

"We have a commitment to understanding what VPC will look like on the Intel Mac. But until we have the final hardware we cant know what Virtual PC will look like on those machines," Lefebvre said. "There are dependencies with the OS and the hardware. Until we know what the final hardware is like, its difficult to know how it will work," she concluded.

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