Getting Panther Mail to sync with Exchange

One of the new features in Panther is that Mail and the Address Book can be synchronized with Exchange 2000. Even though I’m a very happy Entourage user, I don’t have enough licenses of Office for all my Macs, so I wanted to give this a try on the Cube upstairs.
I followed the instructions and put in my full OWA URL in the appropriate field. Guess what? Nothing happened. Nothing, that is, except that my URL was truncated from http://serverName/exchange/paul to just serverName.

I went hunting at Apple’s support site and soon found out what the problem was: I had installed iSync 1.3 when it was released, so when I installed Panther it didn’t get re-installed, and I didn’t get the missing library required to sync with Exchange. This post on the Apple support site told me how to fix it. Once I installed the missing library, I was able to initiate and complete a sync between my Exchange account and my local Address Book.

This would have been really cool, except that all of the people now in my address book show up backwards: “Garret & Tiffany Anderson”, for example, are listed as “Anderson Garret & Tiffany”. If that were just how the names were displayed, it would be OK, but noooo; the conduit has switched the first and last names, apparently because Apple never thought to distinguish between the “file as” field and the real name. Oooops. A quick application of the “Swap First Name/Last Name” command seems to have fixed it.

Oh, and as for the truncation of whatever you put in the address field: according to this article, this is more or less by design; the bug is that the Mail help file tells you to put in a complete URL. Oooops again. As a worse side effect, since Apple makes the assumption that every user is in the same domain, if you have multiple domains, you have to modify OWA to use a default domain (see MS KB article 290341) because iSync is too stupid to know that domain\username won’t look too good in the OWA URL. This also means that the synchronization will break if you’ve renamed your OWA virtual directory. Oooops yet again. I think I’ll stick with Entourage, thankyouverymuch. Now, for my next trick, I’m going to delve into why the Active Directory plug-in doesn’t work with my fairly simple AD topology.

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