Publishing calendars from Outlook to get more confusing

Summary:Every time I sign in to Outlook, I get a credential dialog asking for my password – not for Outlook but for publishing my calendar online. After typing in my Windows Live ID details six times in a row and seeing the dialog reappear I settled for just clicking cancel; after doing that a few dozen times (I don’t restart Outlook very often), I thought I’d see if I could work out why.

Every time I sign in to Outlook, I get a credential dialog asking for my password – not for Outlook but for publishing my calendar online. After typing in my Windows Live ID details six times in a row and seeing the dialog reappear I settled for just clicking cancel; after doing that a few dozen times (I don’t restart Outlook very often), I thought I’d see if I could work out why.

I signed in to Office Online with my Windows Live ID; it works there. I searched Office Online for details of publishing calendars and while I didn’t find an answer to the dialog box problem, I did find some news. When Office 2010 comes out, you’ll still be able to publish calendars and choose whether to put them on Office Online or on your own server, you’ll still be able to choose whether to share details or just when you’re busy and you’ll still be able to choose whether everyone or just the people you invite can see your calendar. They can still subscribe to it in the Apple and Google Web calendar tools or anything else that uses WebCal. But you can’t manage things from the Office Online Internet Calendar Publishing Service any more, just Outlook, and you won’t be able to see your own calendar on the Web unless you link it to Live Calendar.

I’m not sure how much of a difference that will make to most users; you’ll be managing your calendar in Outlook so maybe this just retires a confusing competitor to Live Calendar that Microsoft doesn’t want to maintain and update. Certainly between Office Live, Office Online, Windows Live Mail (the client), Live Mail (the Hotmail replacement) and Live Calendar (which you still can’t sync to Windows Mobile), Skydrive and the forthcoming Office Web Apps it’s very confusing what tools are where. We still come across a lot of people who don’t know that Outlook lets you publish your calendar online free or even subscribe to online calendars - and I've always thought this would be an ideal tool for small businesses to use for remote workers or even customer appointments, for schools and clubs and event organisers to use for publishing events and meetings as well as for co-ordinating with friends. As so often happens, Microsoft has a tool that it doesn't manage to let users know about or that's not flexible enough and everyone flocks to simpler online systems even if they don't actually do as much.

And I still don’t know why I can log in directly to the Office Online site but when I go via Outlook – which will soon be the only option – I just get a password dialog over and over again. I can’t even invite friends to subscribe without getting the password dialog. Is anyone else using the Office 2010 beta seeing this? Indeed – is anyone else using this service at all? -Mary

What the Office online site says “With the upcoming launch of Microsoft Outlook 2010 and the revision of the Office Online site, the tools you use to manage published calendars and preview a calendar through the Web will be discontinued. After those changes occur, you can manage or remove calendars you have published only by using Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 or later.

What to expect Publishing calendars online and subscribing to them do not change. You can still publish and subscribe to calendars through Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. You can subscribe to published calendars if you use a program using the WebCal protocol, such as Outlook, Windows Live Calendar, Google Calendar, or Apple iCal. Calendar updates are sent through Outlook as before, and subscribers download updates just as they do today.

The discontinuation of the online tools means you can no longer preview, edit or remove published calendars by using your Web browser. To preview a published calendar with a Web browser, you must subscribe to the calendar using a service like Windows Live Calendar. To change or delete a calendar, you must use Outlook.”

Topics: Windows

About

Born on the Channel Island of Jersey, Simon moved to the UK to attend the University of Bath where he studied electrical and electronic engineering. Since then a varied career has included being part of the team building the world's first solid state 30KW HF radio transmitter, writing electromagnetic modelling software for railguns, and t... Full Bio

About

Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.