Updated at the bottom.
Outlook is odious, Entourage won’t talk to Exchange unless you own the “Pro” version, and if you’ve got Snow Leopard and were excited about its ability to talk to Exchange, I hope your org uses Exchange Server 2007, because otherwise you’re out of luck.
If your organization has an older Exchange server and still has Web services turned on for it, you can give davmail a shot. Davmail’s just this Java proxy that just sits there and runs in the background, providing what appear to be plain old IMAP, CalDav and LDAP services from localhost to Snow Leopard’s Mail, iCal and the Address Book apps respectively. Also works with Thunderbird, for that matter.
If you take the time to set up the directory stuff, it integrates all through OS X. Start a new mail message, type the first few letters of a colleague’s name, and it’ll complete for you, just as if you were on Outlook.
If your organization has reserved the right to toss your computers for accessing their services, well … you’ll be using your computer to access their services in a way that seems more intimate than just going in through Outlook Web. I guess I’ve got my speech ready if it ever comes up.
It’s a little slow to slurp everything in at first, and in the process it periodically blurts little messages that read “ISO-8859″ then go away. It’s a bit of a greedy little CPU hog while it’s syncing everything up. You know what, though? Once it’s done, there’s everything in Mail and you were hopefully off drinking a beer while it was doing all that. Or blogging about it.
Even once it’s done syncing up, it’s a bit piggy. It will consume a lot of RAM during that initial sync. So once it’s done (you can tell by looking at the log, which is a blizzard of transaction information; or by using cmd-0 in Mail to see what Mail’s up to at the moment), it’s probably not a bad idea to quit and restart. It’s still eating RAM, but not to the tune of, like, five different day-old Firefox processes. Anyhow, I blame:
Java. Though this one of the few times a Java thing has been truly useful to me. It’s hard to care about ugly, not-quite-right toolkits and all that when something just sits in the background and does helpful things.
I installed a recentish Ubuntu in a VM last week and learned that the Exchange connector that was once going to be a for-pay add-on to Evolution is just part of the package now (and probably has been forever, because I’m just not keeping up), so Davmail probably won’t seem so swell to Linux users who are happy with Evolution. Mutt people, though, might still get a kick out of it.
Update: A few days later: Davmail crashed once overnight, the first night I used it. I restarted it when I noticed in the morning, and it’s been up and running without incident for more than 24 hours. I spent all day yesterday with it, doing all the stuff I’d usually do via Outlook or Outlook Web and it worked great. It reduced my need to interact with Windows down to one or two sign-ins a day, both a result of company policy about what can get on the VPN, and which I can handle via the RD client.