Google Calendar and Outlook

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Google has released their online calendar program and for a first effort it’s very impressive.

GOOGLE CALENDAR AND OUTLOOK

Google has released their online calendar program http://calendar.google.com and for a first effort it’s very impressive.

As regular readers might know, we’re not big fans of this headlong rush to Internet based systems. They have a place but the presumption that people will always have an Internet connection and want to put all their data on corporate servers doesn’t impress us (or many of our readers).

Google Calendar won’t be making us abandon Outlook but it’s easy to see why many occasional users will be tempted. The ability to easily share calendars in whole or part is very interesting. Microsoft has features to do that at a corporate level but Google Calendar makes that easy for home or small business users.

Despite being a web browser based system it has some of the features that you’d except in a desktop system. You can drag and drop appointments and there are some keyboard shortcuts. If you’ve been wondering what the fuss is about ‘Ajax’ ‘Web 2.0’ and other browser based services, have a look at Google Calendar.

Couples, families and friends can share their individual Google Calendars between them with a few clicks – something that Outlook users would love to do but can’t without a lot of hoops.

Like Outlook, you can have more than one calendar under a single Google Calendar login. Unlike Outlook these calendars can be easily viewed as a single view. Under ‘My Calendars’ you could make separate calendars for, say, Home and Work plus a separate one for vacation planning. With a single click the events from one calendar can be added or removed from the current view.

There’s an in-built system of alerts for upcoming appointments with email, SMS (US cell phones) and pop-ups. Again, the email and SMS options aren’t easily available to Outlook users.

You can post links on a web page to let people create appointments on their Google Calendars. That could be used to easily organize a party or promote an event. Bands or performers could provide links to their gigs with date, time and place all set to be added to your calendar. Outlook has support for two systems for sending appointments (iCalendar and vCalendar) but they’ve never taken off in a big way.

Recurring appointments are supported in Google Calendar (despite reports to the contrary) but they can’t be imported from Outlook.

You can import your Outlook appointments into Google Calendar (details here)  but there’s no way, at present, to export from the Google service.

I know it’s a minority view but we’d like to see a hybrid service for the PIM functions available in Outlook. Some traditional software on your computer with the data synced to a web host so you have the option of accessing and sharing the same data via a web browser, mobile phone as suits your needs. This would let you work on your personal information from your computer even when disconnected from the Internet, but the many advantages of the web service.

This should sound familiar to many Office Watch readers who have such a hybrid service with Outlook. Exchange Server or Small Business Server in corporate environments does this already – most people use Outlook to access Exchange Server data but there are also options to get to the same info via a web page (Outlook Web Access), PDA (Outlook Mobile Access) and even mobile phones (WAP support in OMA).

 

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