Microsoft Outlook to integrate Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn
Microsoft is integrating social networking services, such as Facebook and MySpace, into the latest version of its desktop email program, Outlook, used by millions of office workers around the world.
The technology company has launched a test version of the ‘Outlook Social Connector’, which is the add-on tool developed to allow users to pull in the latest feeds from their networks.
Yesterday, the beta software was updated to allow members of the business networking site LinkedIn, to have the latest updates pulled through to their Outlook accounts.
Microsoft is also working with both Facebook and MySpace to ensure that the social connector includes feeds from their sites – which Microsoft says will be ready in time for the next version of Office 2010, going on sale in June.
Outlook Officer group product manager, Dev Balasubramanian, said, on a video posted on Microsoft’s website: “It really is about bringing friends, family and colleagues into you inbox. As you communicate with them you can see their social activities; you can see all of the folks in your social network and it updates as you are reading your email.”
The LinkedIn plug-in allows its members using Outlook to see any status changes, contact information updates and link-ups going on between members. Elliot Shmukler, the network’s product manager, described Outlook as the “professional inbox” and said it was a clear match with the professional network.
The software update will be included in the latest version of Office 2010. However, those users with Office 2003 and 2007, can download the updated ‘Outlook Social Connector’ in beta to try out before making a purchase.
It will also allow Outlook to perform more like a social network itself. For example, if an email-sender and recipient are working on the same document, they can save it in a shared place, called the Sharepoint server, and then both will be able to see whenever one of them updates the material.
However, the technology does not allow Outlook users to push information out from their email program onto their various networks.
Will Kennedy, a corporate vice president for the Office group, told Associated Press, that some of Microsoft’s business customers are concerned that this will be a big distraction for their employees. But he remains confident that such additional tools will speed up and improve office communication and not have the opposite effect.