Beta of an Outlook synchronization gadget for Google Apps

A great many Microsoft Outlook users don't have the benefit of an Exchange server, so their e-mail and calendar are bound to one PC. Now, a gadget just entering beta could help by extending the reach of personal data to the Web, through Google Apps.

More than 2,000 beta testers have reportedly signed up to help Cemaphore Systems test its MailShadow for Google Apps service, which offers real-time synchronization between Microsoft Outlook/Exchange, calendars, contacts, and Google's Gmail.

Currently in Beta 1, MailShadow is designed to turn Outlook into a front end client that can host Gmail and other e-mail service providers. The ability to synchronize Outlook with Gmail allows users to transfer not just e-mail but calendars and address books between the two services as well, enabling a quick backup in case of, for instance, .PST file corruption.

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In theory, using a free service such as Gmail to backup e-mails and similar data eliminates the need for companies to create their own hardware data infrastructure, which ultimately helps reduce costs. Furthermore, the services available in Google Apps are "cloud-based," which means each document saved through the service is saved to Google's servers.

After MailShadowG for Gmail users is successfully launched, Cemaphore will begin working on solutions for other popular e-mail providers. Although the company didn't list other e-mail providers, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and AOL Mail are the most likely to receive MailShadowG support.

MailShadow for Google Apps is expected to enter Beta 2 later next month, with more beta testers expected to be invited into the program. Users interested in signing up for the beta service can do so by clicking here.

IBM is working with Google on a new cloud computing infrastructure that will compete with the Microsoft Live Mesh platform, which launched in April. The joint environment runs on the Linux operating system and will feature Xen virtualization for its business and consumer users. Not surprisingly, the Microsoft Live Mesh platform runs on Windows and helps users synchronize data on multiple devices, enabling sharing of documents and information between wireless devices and PCs.

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