MobileMe – ‘Exchange for the rest of us’ (except Entourage users?)

Apple’s WWDC has been getting a huge amount of coverage today with journalists falling over themselves tosteve-jobs be the first to break the news of Apple’s latest endeavours. I’ve started thinking that if I didn’t shave for a few days and went outside wearing jeans, a turtle-neck sweater and round spectacles that I’d have a pack of hungry Mac newshounds in tow!

Still, I’ll admit that as someone who has been experimenting with the different ways of keeping multiple calendars in sync, the MobileMe announcement tweaked my interest just a little. You see, courtesy of Calgoo Connect to sync my iCal (and thus Entourage) with Google calendar, I have just managed to put the final link in place to keep my calendars in Lotus Notes, Outlook 2007, my Windows Mobile Smartphone and Entourage 2008 in step. It’s not an elegant solution, requiring as it does – three separate pieces of software (CompanionLink, Google Calendar Sync and Calgoo Connect) to join the various calendars together. It’s also fair to say that there’s a knack to getting it all working which involves various false starts and a little tolerance when it comes to getting duplicate entries popping up. This is where MobileMe sounded promising in that you only have to deal with connecting software from one company – Apple, rather than three separate connectors from three different suppliers.

no-entourageSo does MobileMe promise to sweep away my collection of assorted calendar sync’ing software? Sadly no. The first exception seems to be Lotus Notes as there’s no sign of a connector to allow it to sync with what Apple now refers to as ‘The Cloud’ (that’ll be Apple’s equivalent to the Exchange server I guess). So what else is missing? Yes you guessed it, it’s Microsoft’s unloved child… Entourage! I watched the MobileMe guided tour and there was no mention of Entourage being supported in all this new found calendar love, just the standard Mac applications (Mail.app, iCal and Contacts) as well as Outlook 2003 and 2007 on the PC.

Of course there’s always the automated sync feature that you can set up between Entourage 2008 and iCal, but it’s prone to errors when you start to extend the synchronization beyond your Mac, say to Google calendar as I’ve found out. Alas with two of my four calendars out in the cold I’ll have to stick with my current arrangements for now, although I’ll no doubt give MobileMe a go when it comes online, if only to look at this so called ‘beautiful’ interface. In the meantime I’ll be hoping that maybe the guys at CompanionLink and at Calgoo are eyeing up MobileMe as a new opportunity that might one day save me a headache or two. Then again I could buy myself an iPhone and ditch Lotus Notes in favour of using Outlook to access my Notes mail via POP3, although my company say they’ll disown me if I do!

Hmmm, maybe paying the mortgage is more important than havig a sexy new phone and a unified calendar?