Microsoft has announced that Outlook will ship with the next major version of Office for Mac. Currently expected to debut before next year's holiday season, Outlook will replace the present email program in the Mac Office suite, Entourage. Outlook for Mac will differ from the version available on Windows but the two will remain compatible.

For example, Outlook for Mac will support Image Rights Management, which controls access to sensitive documents. Built from square one, it will fully support Exchange's latest protocols and has been written in cocoa to take advantage of the latest OS X technologies. Its database has also been redesigned and will be compatible with Spotlight and Time Machine.

Unfortunately the Outlook-equipped version of Office for Mac is still a year or more away. For the time being, Microsoft's Mac Business Unit has improved Exchange support in the final version of Entourage Web Services Edition, which will be included in a new Business Edition of Mac Office 2008 available September 15.