Microsoft adds free calendar sync to Outlook tool

Outlook Connector 12.1 Beta synchronizes Web-based e-mail, contacts and now calendars.

Microsoft this week added calendar synchronization to the long-running beta of a free tool for users of its Office 2003 and Office 2007 suites.

Outlook Connector 12.1 Beta synchronizes Web-based e-mail, contacts and now calendars on the Windows Live services with the Outlook application that's part of Office, Microsoft said late yesterday in a blog entry. "The Microsoft Office Outlook Connector is designed to sync your Windows Live Hotmail mailbox, Windows Live Contacts, and calendars in Windows Live Calendar to Microsoft Office 2007 or 2003," said Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft employee who regularly posts on company blogs.

Earlier versions of the Outlook Connector beta synchronized e-mail and contacts free-of-charge, but not calendars. However, paying subscribers to the premium edition of Hotmail had been able to sync calendars as part of the for-fee service.

Some Windows bloggers wasted no time in making comparisons between Microsoft's sync service and those of rivals, including Apple's MobileMe, the US$99-per-year sync and storage service that's been problem-plagued since it launched two weeks ago.

"Very, very interesting. Given the mess Apple has made of MobileMe, this is very good timing, and it looks like Microsoft finally has a complete answer to Google's Gmail/Google Calendar/Gmail Contacts sync," said blogger Paul Thurrott in an entry yesterday. "Bravo."

Office Connector 12.1 can be downloaded from the Microsoft site, and works with Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007.

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