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Outlook Tutorials How-to Series: How to Share Outlook Calendars without Exchange Server

May 28, 2008
Sharing Microsoft Outlook Calendars is a great way for you to keep your employees, friends and even family up to date on what is going on in your life. Because Microsoft Outlook is a popular email utility, there is no better way to share your calendars than through this software. But, how do you share Outlook calendar information if you don't have an Exchange Server?

In the past Net Folders was available in Microsoft Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000. Net Folders allowed you to share Outlook calendar information with other people through email and you could even run a mailing list if you wanted to. With Net Folders you didn't even need to be using the same email system as your colleagues.

Unfortunately Microsoft discontinued and no longer supports Net Folders due to the software's
instability which frequently caused Outlook to crash. If you were using Net Folders in the past, any information you placed in Net Folders is still available to you, but not to other users. Thus, users of Net Folders need to find a way that they can share their Outlook Calendars without an Exchange Server.

One option that you have is to use the Internet Free/Busy feature in Microsoft Outlook that allows you to see when people are free or busy. This feature was designed so that you could efficiently schedule meetings and events with employees, colleagues or any other users. But, there are a few downsides to this feature:
  • You can only see if a person is free or if they are busy. You can't see what they are actually busy with and why, therefore having limited functionality in many settings.
  • Difficult to set up and to share with others.
  • Requires setup of an FTP server to share the information. You must share your information through a FTP file server and you must specify the user rights. Setting up and maintaining an FTP server requires an always-on Internet connection with a static IP address, which goes beyond the capabilities of most people looking for a simple Outlook calendar sharing tool.
If the Internet Free/Busy feature works for you and you understand how to set up and manage an FTP server, then simply refer to Microsoft's website and instructions on how to properly set up and configure an Internet Free/Busy server at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;enus;827775. However, what do you do if you still need something that is a little more user-friendly and that actually offers full-calendar sharing features?

Another option is OfficeCalendar (http://www.officecalendar.com) by Lookout Software, an innovative addin that allows users to share Outlook calendar, contact and task information without Exchange Server. This product is drop-dead simple to install and use, and it makes sharing your Outlook calendars, contacts and even task information as easy as it gets. You are also able to view, share, edit and create new calendars with your colleagues and other contacts. All you need is a copy of Microsoft Outlook. Plus, you are able to choose who you want to share this information with and who you do not.

The best thing about OfficeCalendar is that you do not need an Exchange Server to do any of this. You also do not need any special hardware or experts to set this up for you. It's very user friendly and can be installed on virtually any Windows computer network making it great for offices and even home networks.

If you use Microsoft Outlook, especially newer versions of the software and if you were using Net Folders in the past, then you are going to love the functionality that OfficeCalendar brings your office or home. With OfficeCalendar you are able to take advantage of a number of rich and unique features that work with Outlook as well, including synchronization with your PDA or Windows Mobile device to your Outlook calendar, contacts and tasks that you use on your main computer system. This allows you to have a mobile office and keep your information up to date on all of your office devices.
About the Author
Mr. Taggart started with Lookout Software in 2004. He brings extensive experience from his over 17 years working in the technology industry. The beginning of his career was spent in various product management, marketing and sales roles at Computer Associates Int'l, Inc. The majority of his career was spent at Sage US Holdings, Inc., where he helped the company quadruple sales and increase profits ten-fold. He eventually was named President and Chief Operating Officer before leaving in 2002 to pursue other ventures. He also spent time as Vice President of World Wide Sales for LivePerson, Inc., a NASDAQ listed company, where during his tenure sales increased over 60% and the company valuation increased 700%.

To download a free trial version of OfficeCalendar go to http://www.officecalendar.com
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