I am delivering a session at the Windows Connections Conference in Orlando tomorrow called, "Top 10 things you might not have seen in the Office 2007 clients". In preparation for the session, I have found some really cool things you can do with the applications in the Office suite. This is the first of several posts that I am going to make of the next few days and weeks to provide more detail on this session. (I have to give credit to Mark Alexieff, Sr. Product Manager on the Office team for supplying me with the bulk of the information for this and other posts.)
I have been using Office since Office 4.0. I have mostly remained safely within the realm of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and of course... Outlook. Like most basic users, I use maybe 10% of the features in the Office apps. I just don't have a functional need to use most of the advanced features. With Office 2007 though there are plenty of new features that will appeal to the everyday user. There are also plenty of cool and interesting things in the newer members of the Office family of products that will appeal to everyday users. For this post I am going to start with Outlook since that is the application I use the most (isn't that true for everyone?!?)
For those of you that use Outlook in a business environment where Outlook is connected to an Exchange server, sharing your calendar and your availability information is as simple as sharing your calendar (you may not be aware of what kind of server your Outlook client is connected to. If it's an Exchange server, Outlook will tell you. Just look in status bar at the bottom of the Outlook Window). This is Great! *If* the person you want to share your calendar with is on an Exchange server within your business environment.
But what about people you do business with outside of your organization? What about your better half? Your grandparents? Other friends and family that are not connected to your Exchange server? For that matter, what about people that don't use Outlook at all?
And one more.....what if you use Outlook 2007 and you are NOT connected to an exchange server?
Well....now there is a solution for everyone!
Outlook 2007 can insert your calendar information into an email that you can send to whomever you wish to share your information with. Here's how....
Start by composing a New Mail Message. Position your cursor in the body of the message where you would like to insert the calendar information. Then, in the Office Ribbon, choose the "Insert" tab, and then choose "Calendar" it is between "Business Card" (also cool!) and "Signature". You will then be prompted for a date range (default is the current day) and the level detail (just your free/busy info and/or the subject and details of appointments). You can also remove private details and choose the layout in advanced options. After clicking OK, Outlook grabs the calendar information, formats it as HTML and inserts it into the body of the email. Now, just click send! When the recipient opens the email, they get a very nicely formatted email with a standard calendar at the top where each day is a hyperlink and will scroll the email to the appropriate day to show availability. Simple. Easy. Functional. That meets my criteria of a useful feature!
I have tested this with sends to my Hotmail account, GMail, my home server and with several email clients. It worked flawlessly for everyone.
There is one downside though.....now I don't have much excuse for not letting my friends and family what my schedule is!