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Microsoft Previews Office 365 Scheduling Service

Microsoft has launched a preview release of its new "Bookings" service for Office 365 aimed at small businesses.

The Bookings service, which Microsoft announced Wednesday, helps organizations schedule appointments with customers. It establishes a Web page where customers can make appointments, with options to select dates, times and even book specific clientele.

A contact list of customers gets automatically created for an organization as people use the system, according to Microsoft.

The service will send e-mail reminders to customers when a scheduled appointment is coming up. It will let customers change appointment details or reschedule via a self-service model. Organizations can specify the advance notice required to make such changes, if that's wanted.

The service provides organizations with access to a dashboard view of the overall booked dates and times, and it also shows staff availability. Staff members will see the scheduled appointments in their own personal calendars. The Bookings service is capable of delivering appointment details to the calendars of Outlook or Outlook.com users, as well as Google Calendar users.

Microsoft plans to include the Bookings service as part of its Office 365 Business Premium subscription plans. Right now, though, it's just available to first-release testers. A general rollout of the service will occur in "the coming months," according to Microsoft's announcement.

When Bookings reaches commercial availability, a single Office 365 Business Premium subscription will be needed for an organization to use the service.

The option to use the Bookings service, when it becomes available, eventually will show up in the Office 365 app launcher. In a future release, Microsoft is planning to release a mobile application for organizations that use the Bookings service so that they can monitor the scheduling remotely.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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