Snow Leopard prowls with Exchange 2007

I’ve just upgraded to Snow Leopard on my Macbook Pro. The process itself was pretty painless, taking less than an hour to run through the install. I can confirm that Snow Leopard is more compact than Leopard and frees up some 6Gb of my hard disk space.

General Impressions

It’s very hard to put your finger on exactly what has changed, post install, but my Macbook definitely feels more responsive. It’s almost like I’ve added a faster processor. Animations in Finder for things like Coverflow appear more fluid and effortless, and the icons themselves load quicker.

The screen also seems a little more vibrant, especially the red and green close & maximise buttons on a windows’ title bar. Maybe Apple have changed the calibration files for my OLED screen. I’d be interested to hear if other people have a similar experience.

Exchange Support – Mail

This, for me, is the make or break function of Snow Leopard. Last week my company upgraded their mail servers from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 and it has messed up my Entourage profile. I’m sure that I can get this working with a bit of fiddling, but I prefer the “native Mac” apps so I thought I’d give Snow Leopard a go.

When I first opened Mail after the OS upgrade, it verified and updated my mails to the new Mail 4.0 format. This took about 3 minutes to complete. After this process, a couple of my mail plugins where removed to a temporary folder as the were apparently not compatible.

I created a new email account in Mail and entered my corporate email address. Mail autodiscovered my email server but didn’t get my username and asked me to enter it. I tried simply entering my domain username but this didn’t work. Next I tried entering the domain as well using the standard Windows domain\username approach and this worked fine.

Immediately Mail created the account and began downloading all of my mail from the server. This was incredibly quick, compared the process I’ve seen on both Entourage and Outlook 2007 on Windows, but all of my mails now appear within Mail, and interact fully with the Exchange server.

One thing of note is that if you received an Exchange meeting invitation you now have Accept, Decline and Tentative buttons in the message header and preview pane. You don’t appear have the option to add comments to your response, but this isn’t a major issue.

Exchange Support – Address Book

As part of the mail account setup, a new directory icon is added to the Address Book viewer. When I first clicked on this, there were no contacts listed. Bearing in mind that my company probably has in excess of 100,000 employees, I presumed that Address Book was downloading the directory. It turns out that you can’t just browse the whole directory, but actually need to search for specific contacts. This searching is very quick taking less than a second to populate the search results. Very cool.

Exchange Support – iCal

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As part of the mail account setup process, two new calendars are added to iCal. Calendar contains your Exchange Server calendar, whereas tasks contains only tasks. I’m not sure why Apple have made this split; I’d imagine it’s because of Exchange’s approach.

My Exchange calendar was instantly viewable in the standard iCal fashion. All of the relevant Exchange information also appeared viewable from within the details pop-up window.

When adding attendees to a meeting, iCal searches both your local Mac address book and the Exchange Server directory for matching contacts. Again, this is very quick.

Apps that don’t work

A couple of apps that don’t appear to be compatible with Snow Leopard are:

iStat Menu (web site says they’ll be releasing an update soon.)

Blogo (no mention of Snow Leopard compatibly or issues)

Conclusion

First impressions of Snow Leopard are very positive. My Macbook seems to have been given a significant performance boost, and the new Exchange support is well thought out and implemented. I’ll be hammering this over the next few weeks and will let post as to how I get on, but at this stage, I’m rather impressed.