Microsoft unveils Windows Live Calendar beta

Just hours after it launched final versions of almost all of its Windows Live-branded services and software, Microsoft late Tuesday also debuted a beta of Windows Live Calendar, its iCal-compliant, next-generation online scheduler.

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Just hours after it launched final versions of almost all of its Windows Live-branded services and software, Microsoft late Tuesday also debuted a beta of Windows Live Calendar, its iCal-compliant, next-generation online scheduler.

The replacement for MSN Calendar, the current companion to Microsoft's web email service, the beta of Windows Live Calendar, features multiple calendars, shared calendars, e-mail and text message alerts tied to appointments, and the ability to subscribe to a calendar's contents via Real Simple Syndication.

Built using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), the application boasts some desktop-style navigation - including drag and drop, single click to add an appointment, and scrolling through dates using a mouse wheel, said Denise Ho, lead program manager for the product.

Shared calendars can be opened to others through a sophisticated rights management process, added Ho. "Share as much or as little of your calendar with free/busy, read-only or read/write permissions," she said in a posting to the team's blog.

"[Or] send friends a view-only secret link to your calendar so they don't need to sign in with a Windows Live ID." The options also include a new co-owner role that lets another user control the calendar but prevents them from moving or deleting it.

Although Windows Live Calendar supports the iCal standard, which lets users manually merge it with content on other iCal-based calendars, such as Google Calendar, the beta lacks synchronisation.

While Windows Live Calendar is in beta, existing MSN Calendar content will remain untouched, said Ho.

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