I have taken quite a liking to Entourage 2008, part of the Office 2008 suite for Mac. I didn’t have much experience with its 2004 predecessor. It is quite a robust application. I don’t use most of the advanced features included with it, but it does everything that I normally would do using Mail, iCal, and Address Book. The difference is that Entourage has many more options, and I like how it all is handled by a single application instead of using three. Having the calendar built-in has me actually using it, unlike my forgetfulness to launch up iCal to add information.
I’ll admit that a cold launch of Entourage is noticeably slower than the other programs. I did a memory test of Mail, iCal, and Address Book, and they totaled a use of 78 MB real memory combined. Mail.app alone was using 47 MB all by itself. In comparison, Entourage, after extensive use, used 78.5 MB of real memory — Roughly the same as the combined others.
At first run, my Mail data was imported with ease into Entourage. The address book was not so easy, and ended up doing most of it by cut/paste. I wasn’t able to find an exporter that would arrange my data so that Entourage would be happy with it. There is a sync option in Entourage for the Mac Address Book, but I didn’t try it.
In Entourage, I like the flexibility in assigning categories and rules to my mail. There is so much you can customize. Data searches are powered by Spotlight, which are lightning fast. I like how I get a message preview popup when mail arrives. That said, it would be nice if Office would use Growl as an option for popups, but it works just fine as-is. Personally, I like how Entourage stores all of my data in a single file on the hard drive, but this does create a burden with Time Machine. A single change of any kind to your information in Entourage will cause Time Machine to back up the whole Entourage data file again the next time it comes around. (This is one reason I chose to set Time Machine to backup manually.)
One possible annoyance to me is that there is no simple way to “auto Bcc” myself, or another address. I like to shoot a copy of my outbound mail to Gmail, so I can store it there, too. The only way to do this, that I’ve seen, is to create a Rule to redirect outgoing mail to another account. It does work, but it creates a duplicate message in your Sent mailbox for every piece of mail you send out. I can’t figure out how to automatically delete that extra copy, either.
My liking of Entourage mostly boils down to the fact that when I was a Windows user, I preferred Outlook 2003 to any other client. Entourage is the closest match to that on the Mac. It may not always behave in the same way that you have come to expect from Outlook, but it is a very powerful application in its own right. I plan to use Entourage 2008 exclusively for the near future on my Mac.