Q: What is the meeting request calendar preview in Outlook 2010 and how does it work?

A: Microsoft found that when users receive a new meeting request, many will check their calendars to confirm availability or the viability of accepting the meeting. In Outlook 2010, users can see a day view of their calendar within the meeting request message they receive in their Inbox. The calendar preview shows the time of the meeting being requested, but the user can scroll through the entire day. No action is required by the sender of the meeting request for the calendar preview to appear-it's automatic.

When you send a basic meeting request, such as the one Figure 1 shows, you set the date and time for the meeting.

Figure 1: Sending a basic meeting request in Outlook 2010

Figure 2 shows the meeting request as opened by the recipient. The recipient can scroll through the calendar preview without having to toggle back and forth between mail and the calendar. The same is true for a recurring meeting, with the added benefit of being able to scroll through the different recurrences and conflicts with the recurring meeting request.

Figure 2: A meeting request in Outlook 2010 showing the calendar preview 

The calendar preview is loaded into the email message from the recipient's primary account calendar when the message is opened. If the recipient maintains additional calendars in his or her profile, appointments on those secondary calendars won't show up in the meeting request calendar preview. If there are any changes made to the calendar and the meeting request is opened again, those changes are reflected in the calendar preview pane in the message.

Ideally, the calendar preview feature will save users some time because they won't have to open their calendar separately to view what activities they have booked for that day.

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