Things Macintosh

Rodney 'Outs' Outlook for the Mac

(Not Outlook Express)

Rodney O. Lain - 2000.04.18

In other centuries, human beings wanted to be saved, or improved, freed, or educated. But in our century, they want to be entertained. The great fear is not of disease, but of boredom. A sense of time on our hands, a sense of nothing to do. A sense that we are not amused. Where will this mania for entertainment end?
  - ;. This artifice will drive them to seek authenticity. Authenticity will be the buzzword of the twenty-first century."
  - Michael Crichton, Timeline

It began innocently enough.

One day, I'm sitting at work, talking to a client. He wants to know how to get one of our software products to work in conjunction with Microsoft Outlook. From what he is saying, he is describing Microsoft Outlook, not Outlook Express. Outlook is the full-fledged, Microsoft Exchange-server compatible email and scheduling application for PCs; Outlook Express is the freeware emailer and contact management app for the Mac - a sop to those of us who'd prefer the meatier group-sharing program.

Wanting to make sure I did not misunderstand him, I repeated his request to him, asking if he is talking about Outlook Express.

"No, I'm talking about Outlook, not Outlook Express."

I scoff the veracity of his claims, but he swears that there is a Mac version of the Outlook client. He says that it is version 8.2.x. He explains that it ships with Microsoft software for system administrators, but that it is in hidden files. I don't know if this is true; I am merely passing along what he said.

I don't think too much about it, until a few days later, when I mention this to my supervisor, who then opens up his PowerBook and launches Outlook 8.2.1. I'm surprised.

"How long have you had this?"

"At my last job, we were connected to an Exchange server, and all of us Mac users were given an installation copy of Outlook."

We play around with it, and I notice that it doesn't appear to be a version written from the ground up for the Macintosh. Instead, it looks more like that terrible "port" called Microsoft Office 4.2.1 - arguably the most forgettable Microsoft product for the Mac ever.

This revelation (maybe it is old news to you) begs the question that many have voiced time and again - why doesn't Microsoft live up to its promise to produce more Mac versions of its software? This is a valid question, since part of the Apple-Microsoft deal in 1997 was a promise to produce Mac-versions of its flagship software - or was that just pertaining to the Office suite?

A Microsoft official has been quoted as saying that producing Mac versions of products like, say, Microsoft Project, is not feasible, yet millions are spent on Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, which are both given away for free. Of course, the cost spent therein is a small price to pay for steps toward Microsoft's controlling the Internet, so this comparison is not a good one. But the argument still remains: why aren't more MS products being ported to the Mac, especially when Microsoft Office is such a bestseller for the Redmond giant.

But I digress from my main point, which is Microsoft Outlook. The fact remains that this is a product that exists - and yet no one hears about it in the Mac community.

What would be the motive behind Microsoft not promoting this product? I can think of a few:

  • Microsoft has a no intention to support the Mac beyond the letter of its agreement with Apple. After all, any company that isn't Microsoft is a competitor to Microsoft. I'm sure that Microsoft wants Apple to do well, but not that well.
  • Microsoft has other things to tend to. Like that antitrust thing.
  • Microsoft is being realistic. The Mac market is still a small market, it can be argued.

This whole Outlook "cover-up" begs other questions, namely, what other Microsoft products are not available? How about Mac versions of Microsoft Encarta? How about a Mac version of FrontPage (not that I'm about to give up my copies of Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe PageMill)? And, a personal request, how about a Mac version of the Encarta Africana? I can keep this up all day.

Microsoft talks about its commitment to the Mac, but there is more said about actions than words. I'd like to see some action on Microsoft's part.

After all, I was born in Missouri. Literally. Kansas City. 1968.


Note: Via the search engine courtesy the fine folks at Version Tracker, I discovered you can find the Outlook Exchange client at If you prefer Microsoft Outlook Express, go to

Rodney O. Lain (1968-2002) called himself a fashion victim: He liked wearing socks with his sandals. When he wasn't dispensing fashion advice, Rodney wrote for Low End Mac, The Mac Observer, Applelinks, and many other websites. Rodney lived in Minnesota. His own website was, and we have collected as much of his writing that has since disappeared from the Web as possible in The Rodney O. Lain Archive.

The most widely read Things Macintosh columns:

  1. Apple is a company, 10/4/1999
  2. The main difference between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, 1/17/2000
  3. The $600 iMac, 12/24/1999
  4. Apple will rule the computer world, 11/17/1999
  5. I'm not paying $20 for my OS X upgrade, 2001.07.25.
  6. A Mac is like Prozac, 10/13/1999
  7. I'm a drop the funk bomb on ya: Milking the Macintosh for all it's worth, 2001.03.20.
  8. More links and links to memorial articles in the Things Macintosh index.

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