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Microsoft dropped direct Palm syncing in Entourage 2008; BlackBerry, Win Mobile users may also have issues

Monday, January 28, 2008 [updated January 30, 2008]

By John Rizzo

[Note: This story was updated. A Mark/Space spokesperson had originally confused BlackBerry and Palm issues. We contacted Mark/Space, Microsoft, and PocketMac for clarification and have corrected errors.]

Some owners of BlackBerry, Palm, and Windows Mobile devices found that after upgrading to Office 2008 they could no longer sync with Entourage in the manner had before. In Office 2008, Microsoft is no longer supporting direct syncing of Entourage with Palm devices; All Entourage handheld syncing must be done through Apple Sync Services. Users of Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices may also run into issues, depending on the syncing software they are using.

BlackBerry and Windows Mobile owners who sync with Entourage using PocketMac software will have to wait for a PocketMac update in order to sync with Entourage 2008. PocketMac said that it has been testing the Windows Mobile 5 & 6 and BlackBerry updates for two months, and that it would release the updates soon.

Palm and Windows Mobile device owners who sync using Mark/Space's Missing Sync may need to change how they use the software, using Mac OS X's Sync Services if they aren't already. The company said there was no change in how the Missing Sync for BlackBerry functions with Entourage 2008. A Mark/Space spokesperson described the change Microsoft made regarding direct Palm support and its effect on syncing.

"[Palm] compatibility with Entourage 2004 is handled via a plug-in that Microsoft created, and that we include with our products. Microsoft has chosen not to develop a plug-in for Entourage 2008."

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that Entourage 2008 no longer has a Palm conduit for direct syncing.

Another Marc/Space spokesperson said Missing Sync for Palm users users must sync toEntourage 2008 through Apple's software. He also said there is an effect on calendar syncing:

Office 2008 requires that you first sync via Apple's Sync Services. In Entourage, you should be able to do this from the Preferences menu.

Microsoft does not offer a special conduit/plugin to sync [Palm devices] with Entourage [2008] directly, so our software will only be able to transfer data between your handheld and Sync Services.

Since Sync Services does not recognize Entourage categories, all of your data will be consolidated into a single category called "Entourage."

With Windows Mobile, Entourage 2008 no longer supports a Mark/Space plugin that used to communicate directly Entourage 2004. Missing Sync for Windows Mobile owners must also use Sync Services. Mark/Space engineer Eric Shapiro described it:

Users can just turn on Sync Services support within Entourage and use the other built-in plugins (contacts, calendar, etc) in Missing Sync and all should be well.

We do recommend backing up all of your databases first and it may at times be necessary to do a "Mac overwrites device" sync first if switching between plugins to avoid duplicating records.

He also described the issue with calendars:

The one thing lost shifting over to Sync Services support is keeping track of which calendar a given event is in. This is a limitation in Entourage's Sync Services support. In iCal every event must be in a single calendar whereas Entourage supports multiple categories per item. All Entourage events will show up in a single "Entourage" category on the device.

[This] applies to all Sync Service applications - Missing Sync for Palm, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile along with SyncTogether.

We are working with Microsoft to see how we can add back this functionality in the future.

Shapiro noted that the same limitation exists with the iPhone.

If you’ve tried Office 2008 and Entourage 2008 what you think of their cross-platform abilities.

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