Microsoft has been working on its digital assistant, Cortana, for some time now. As part of the broader effort to shift simple but time-consuming tasks onto computers, they’re testing the waters a bit with an automated scheduler.

We’ve had good luck with it- and if you’re setting up a lot of meetings, it could be a big time saver. Using these fast, intuitive calendar functions requires a little setup first, however. You have to sign up at the preview site with either a Google or Microsoft account- whichever you use to manage your schedule. You can use code “CupcakeFrosting” at sign up to skip the waitlist.

Once you’re in, the scheduler will ask you a few questions about when you would like it to arrange meetings, what your work hours are, etc. to get started. After that initial configuration, all you need to do is add [email protected] to the CC line of an emailed request to meet; It will consult your calendar and automatically schedule meetings for unfilled times, and is able to read the initial request message for a time window you specify (with impressive accuracy!). It’s able to offer multiple potential times to your recipient(s) and will handle negotiations automatically. It will even keep you informed as it makes progress- you won’t be left out of the loop at any point.

This is an exciting new addition to Microsoft’s already impressive array of business software, and it’s worth a little time to try out and see if it can work for your office.

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