Microsoft is releasing the first service pack for its Office 2011 suite. According the Microsoft Office for Mac blog, the most significant improvement is that Outlook 2011 now works with OS X’s Sync Services, meaning you can synchronize Outlook calendars, contacts, tasks, and notes with other apps.
According to Pat Fox, Senior Director in the Office Product Management Group, Microsoft had hoped to include support for Sync Services in the initial release of Office 2011 last fall. But that support was harder to implement than expected and so was saved for this first service pack. In the meantime, it had become one of the top feature requests from Office 2011 customers.
Unfortunately, in the time it took Microsoft to add that support, Apple announced that MobileMe would no longer work with Sync Services. So even though Outlook calendars can now synchronize with Sync Services, as of May 5 those calendars won’t sync with MobileMe. So if you were hoping to wirelessly sync Outlook calendars to your iPhone via MobileMe, you won’t be able to; you’ll have to synchronize the old-fashioned way, via iTunes. (Of course, if you sync those Outlook calendars to an Exchange server, you can still wirelessly sync them to your iOS device that way.)
There are other tweaks in the Service Pack. Among the more notable: Outlook now supports Exchange-based server-side rules (something we dinged it for in our review). And there are new redirect and resend buttons in the e-mail program.
Service Pack 1 goes live next week; the exact day is still to be determined. It’ll be available from Microsoft’s Mac downloads page.