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Google starts activating offline calendar access

The company's online calendar now works offline for some Google Apps customers, making the service a notch more useful for businesses.

As promised, Google has begun releasing offline calendar support for Google Apps customers, a move that makes Google's online tools a bit more competitive for business users.

The company said offline Google Calendar would arrive soon after its launch of offline Gmail last week. However, while offline Gmail is for anyone who installs the experimental feature, offline Calendar only works with Google Apps customers whose administrators have enabled their users to activate experimental features.

The folks at Lifehacker got the offline Calendar update and offered some views of the synchronization process that stores a copy of your calendar on your local machine.

Also as promised, people using their calendars while offline can only read existing entries, not create new ones. For details, check Google's Offline Calendar FAQ page.

As with offline Gmail, the offline Calendar support uses Gears, browser plug-in software developed by Google that enables data to be stored on a person's computer so Web applications can be used even while offline.

"Offline Calendar currently works on Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Firefox 2 and 3, and Safari 3. Support for other browsers is coming soon," according to the FAQ.

Update 8:46 a.m. PST: Google confirmed it's begun activating the offline support. It will be available for customers using the free, ad-supported Standard Edition of Google Apps and the Premium Edition, which costs $50 per user per year, Google said.

Update 8:59 a.m. PST: Joyce Sohn, Google Apps marketing manager, discussed the offline Calendar move at the Google Enterprise blog.

Google declined to say when read-write access will arrive or when offline calendars will arrive for ordinary Google Calendar users. "We've seen the strongest interest in this feature from our enterprise users, so we're bringing it to them first," spokesman Andrew Kovacs said.