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Outlook.com gets Family Calendar support, improved sharing and more

If you frequently rely on Outlook.com's calendar features to keep track of what's going on, some new updates are now rolling out that should pique your interest. Microsoft has announced (opens in new tab) Family Calendar, improved sharing, and even a little extra help from Cortana are all now rolling out to Outlook.com users.

Outlook Family Calendar

Here's a quick rundown of all of what's new:

  • Microsoft Family calendar—Keep your family up-to-date with a single place for all of your events that everyone in the family can access.
  • Improved calendar sharing—Easily share your Outlook calendar with anyone who has an Outlook.com or Office 365 account.
  • Expanded support for events in your email—Outlook now automatically adds dinner reservations and other events to your calendar.
  • Expanded support for Interesting calendars—Interesting calendars now supports more languages, teams and sports.
  • Cortana can schedule your remote meetings—Stop emailing back and forth to set up a meeting. Sign up for the Calendar.help Preview and ask Cortana to schedule a phone or conference call for you.

Perhaps the biggest addition here is Microsoft Family Calendar. The feature lets families all share a single calendar that each member can add to. You'll have to already have a Microsoft Family set up to use the feature. But once you do, the Family calendar can be accessed from the left pane under "Other calendars." If you want to get started, you can head to the Microsoft Family{.nofollow} site to create one.

Cortana's Calendar.help preview is also an interesting addition worth checking out. Launched in preview in late 2016, the service lets you simply Cc Cortana on an email to have her automatically arrange meetings based on a length, time, and location you specify. As Microsoft explained at the time (opens in new tab):

After you send the email, Cortana looks at your calendar to find times you are available and then reaches out to the invitees to propose times. Cortana communicates directly with the attendees so the back and forth emailing won't clutter your inbox. As attendees reply with their availability, Cortana keeps the conversation moving forward until a time that works for everyone is found. Cortana also follows up with attendees if they don't respond within 48 hours.

To get started with testing, you'll have to join the Calendar.help preview.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

23 Comments
  • is the Microsoft Family calendar are avaleble on the wwindows 10 application ? PC and Mobile? 
  • Add the Family Calendar in Outlook.com then it will appear as a calendar choice on all your Win10 devices.
  • nice, I was a bit jalous of my frend becose he was doing that on is android phone and gmail acount... 
  • I have it on outlook since WP8 when they had the Group rooms or something like that.
  • Indeed. By the time they implemented something that might actually replace part of rooms, the mobile platform is dead.
  • I've had family calendar through Outlook on my phones for at least two or three months now
  • This is a lot like the old "Rooms" concept from a few years back but more standard to fit with outlook functions.
  • Question... how can I share my Outlook.com with Google Calendar. I tried using Publish to get an ICS link, but I don't know if Google just has a really really really slow refresh rate or if it doesn't actually get updates. What is the proper way to view an Outlook.com calendar in Google Calendar? It's fine if its read only, but I want it to update frequently... preferably multiple times a day.
  • Publish is the correct method for ICS.  The refresh rate is controlled on the Google side.  Last time I expiramented with this was about a year ago.  At that time it was taking about 24hours to update calendar entries... which was good enough for what I was trying to do.  I couldn't find a setting on google to force the refresh at a faster schedule. For comparison, updates on ios took less than an hour when subscribing to the same calendar.
  • Now give us 2 and 3 hour reminder options when setting an appointment instead only 1 hour. Also give us custom snooze options or at the very least an additional 30 minute snooze
  • Hoping somewhere in here they'll fix the sharing features in Outlook 2016 also.
  • After losing Rooms I expected GroupMe to be developed to replace it, as Daniel and Zac hoped. Is this evidence that isn't going to happen, and in fact they're going to integrate the missing functionality into outlook.com? All I want is a shared calendar, photos, notes. Essentially I want Rooms back. Is it happening?
  • I'm a little annoyed they want to charge me separately for Outlook Premium even though I have a Office 365 Home account. It should be included. Make that improvement. 
  • Family calendar has been in one of the beta rings for a few months. The problem I have is that I already had a "Family Calendar" set up and shared for a few years. Now I have the microsoft family calendar and I can't delete it.
  • The Cortana feature sounds amazing. If only I could have that with my corporate email/calendar.
  • All of this used to work in Rooms seamlessly.  Calendar, Chat, etc... what a great feature.  Another feature Microsoft didn't market hard enough.  Glad to see they are brining somethings back. 
  • I think I will give it a miss, I prefer to keep my calender hanging on my wall or in a book. I do not even use google calender and thatg would be more useful since it is on my phone. Oh I do, I have a app that reminds me when to change the water filter in my water jug and thatg uses the calender.  
  • You can get the outlook calendar on your phone too. One problem with your wall calendar is that not everyone in your family has 24/7 access to your wall or your book.
  • since it is only me that lives here it makes no difference and to be honest I would not want people to have acess to my calender unless it was a famiuly thing.  Also I do not have a MS account and i really do not want to put Ms apps on my phone.  
  • I've been dedicated to the MS suite, but to be honest, I'm hanging on by my finger nails. I was a big user of Rooms and I had my whole family on Windows Phones (we were part of the great 10% UK market share they let slip). We lost Rooms and I had to adapt with the outlook shared calandar and Group Me, which was promoted as the replacement but inferior. Then, with the demise of windows phone, we finally all moved to android devices with outlook.com as our go to app, to tie in with out 365 account and our desktop / laptop / xbox integration. Now, on two of the phones, we've not been able to connect our MS accounts to the outlook android app for the last 3 weeks, it just stopped working (but works with imap email). Then my imap mail set up on outlook.com stopped working too. I did all the known resets/reinstalls and I contacted MS help and they said their is a problem at their end and that I have an 'old account', but since then the tier 2 support just does not respond, from either outlook help team or Windows 10. This leave me with an unsyncing calandar, and no name recognition for texts and call I'm at my wits end with them. Last night I exported my contacts to google. ever thought I'd do that, but it just....works. Its so frustrating, on paper the MS soluton is exactly what I want, but there are ALWAYs issues. If they don't help me sort it out (which I doubt as they never respond beyond the initial message), then I might bite the bullet and pull the plug, xbox and 465 account and all. To top it all, I can't now access one of the MS accounts at all. Again, they haven't been able to help. Does anyone know, are there serious issues behind the scene in regards to account integrations?
  • The cortana thing sounds interesting! However I can only imagine her not understanding a thing everything goes to hell lol xD Also, knowing MSFT, I guess it will probably be USA only for 2 years or so ...
  • This is a function that I want to add. In fact, I started a calendar of my own for this some time ago. But this might be better in that it looks like it involves additional functionality. But what I am not sure how to do is get it started and add my family members to it. How do I go about doing that?
  • Never mind, I found it in the article.