Microsoft today announced Scheduler, a new extra-cost Microsoft 365 service that makes it easier to schedule meetings in an organization.
“It’s not just you: weekly meetings have increased by 148 percent and the time that employees spend trying to schedule meetings both inside and outside of their organization is climbing,” Microsoft’s Gabriel Valdez Malpartida writes in the announcement post. “With the average time to schedule a meeting taking 6 to 29 minutes, Scheduler aims to give you back time to focus on the important things by making it easier, faster, and being available 24/7 to schedule meetings for you, and it’s available starting today.”
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Scheduler works with Cortana so that you can use natural language to initiate meetings with your coworkers. You can send an email from Outlook mobile or Outlook on the web that contains text like “Cortana, please find a time to meet next week” or “Cortana, please find us 45 minutes in the last week of the month in the morning for Pacific time and make it a Teams meeting,” and Cortana will either create the meeting or ask you clarifying questions.
Microsoft describes Scheduler as a back-end service that provides scheduling intelligence and workflow services including looking up attendee availability, negotiating times over email, sending calendar invites, and rescheduling or canceling a meeting if needed. It can be enabled by a Microsoft 365 administrator along with a special Scheduler custom mailbox.
Scheduler, alas, isn’t free, and it isn’t included with any Microsoft 365 commercial SKUs. You can purchase Scheduler for $10 per month per user for those with a Microsoft 365 E3, A3, E5, A5, Business Basic, Business, Business Standard, Business Premium, Office 365 E1, A1, E3, A3, E5, A5, Business Essentials, Business Premium, or Exchange Online Plan 1 or Plan 2 license.