Apple has just shipped iCal, its new calendar program. A free download, for MacOS X 10.2 (Jaguar).

iCal and .Mac may be more important to technoculture than you'd think. Apple's plan seeks to lower the barrier between the net and the local system by building network awareness into lots of local applications. You've already got built-in photo downloads -- and easy snapshot sharing over .Mac. Easy sharing: WebDAV as a hotkey, ftp and windows servers on the desktop, Rendezvous discovering your LAN on its own. iChat transfers files to your buddies by drag and drop. Next, calendars. Many-to-many sharing.

It's brilliant marketing. Microsoft's message, right now, is all about security and copy protection, patches and Palladium. Apple's message is about sharing. Dell and IBM ship Windows in black boxes. Apple wears white. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?