Before I left for TechEd Barcelona I picked up a new MacBook Pro. I was headed to Europe for 3 weeks, the first part of which was business and the second part vacation.
I presented and demoed on Windows XP using VMWare’s Fusion (this works *flawlessly* BTW and seems to be faster than my Lenovo T60). I still use Windows XP for all my work related stuff, but I’ve pretty much committed everything else (photos, videos, etc.) to Apple.
After I got back, I headed down to the Apple store and picked up an iPhone and said goodbye to my trusty BlackBerry.
The move to the iPhone was the result of being a long time iPod user and then absolutely loving my MacBook experience. So far, the iPhone is really nice but disappointing in comparison to my BlackBerry for managing email. While the iPhone does have "Microsoft Exchange" support it’s pretty weak (IMAP/SMTP only). Note the iPhone is awesome at web browsing, video, music, calendar, phone, and contacts. So while this is a bitter pill (giving up BlackBerry’s email support) the tradeoffs were well worth it.
One of the first problems I ran into was syncing my Contacts and Calendar to the iPhone which required that my contacts and calendar be in Apple’s "iCal" and "Address Book" applications since I was syncing the iPhone with the OS X. I read that you could sync if you were running Microsoft’s Office for the Mac so I started doing some research.
I installed the trial of Office for the Mac. Yuck. All my friends and co-workers running Macs tell me that the next version of Office for the Mac due out in January is supposed to be incredible though. I can’t wait.
Next, I went to the Apple store by my house (which was crazy busy). Surely someone there would know more and maybe even be able to help me. This is where the Apple people started to look dumb.
Me: I’ve got an iPhone and an MacBook Pro and I run Exchange at work and want to sync the iPhone to my Exchange Server.
Apple store: Why?
Me: (long explanation, ending in me trying various things like Office for the Mac)
Apple store: We don’t recommend installing that company’s [Microsoft] software. You’ll get viruses. It’s a huge target for attacks. If you want to buy it though you can by the Student Edition for $49.
Me: I’m not a student. Is this version different from the commercial version?
Apple store: Yes, one is professional one is not.
Me: So the commercial version is different?
Apple store: We really just recommend avoiding that company’s software.
That was about it for me. I said thank you and left. It’s pretty amazing to me that (a) I would be told some complete lies about Microsoft and (b) then told that I can buy the Student Edition. Note, they also didn’t answer my original question either.
What’s frustrating is that the 2 sales people I spoke with put their own personal politics/issues ahead of my actual problem. While frustrating it also makes Apple look bad.
So I was back to solving it myself… I found out that by installing Plaxo on OS X and Windows XP I could keep everything in sync (which is now working perfectly BTW).
I really do hope that Apple adds better support for Exchange in the iPhone. I also really hope that Apple starts encouraging a more open attitude at it’s stores for people that use mixed environments like myself. I suspect this type of scenario is going to become more common in the coming years.