Microsoft continues making strides in linking its Outlook e-mail client to popular social networking services, today announcing that business networking site LinkedIn is now offering a beta tool for integrating user activity into Outlook 2010, while consumer social networking giants Facebook and MySpace sign on for similar efforts.
Announced in November, the Outlook Social Connector for Outlook 2010 provides “a set of new features that bring together communications history, contact information, and professional and social networking information into the Outlook experience,” according to a post on the Official Microsoft Blog. Initially, LinkedIn had been one of the first to sign on to support the software.
And as a result of this week’s developments, LinkedIn now offers a tool that enables a user to link Outlook with their social networking activity via the Social Connector.
“With LinkedIn for Outlook, you will be able to connect your LinkedIn account to view your colleagues’ status updates and photos right next to an e-mail they just sent you,” a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com. The LinkedIn connector also enables users to get colleagues’ latest contact information updated to their contact cards in Outlook, the spokesperson added.
Microsoft also announced it has signed up both Facebook and MySpace to work with the Outlook Social Connector. The Facebook and MySpace downloads are due out in beta during the first half of 2010.
“Once live, Facebook and MySpace integration will enable users to bring social components into Outlook, such as profile pictures, photos and status updates,” the spokesperson said.
Outlook 2010 is a key component of Office 2010, which is due out in June. The Outlook Social Connector runs on the 32-bit version of the Outlook 2010 beta. However, the Outlook Social Connector can also be run with Outlook 2003 and 2007, according to the company.
Office 2010 began beta testing in November, at the same time that Microsoft announced the Outlook Social Connector. Currently, more than 4.5 million users are beta testing Office 2010, and the suite has reached “release candidate” stage, the last phase before actual release, according to Microsoft.
The beta connector for LinkedIn is available for download from LinkedIn’s site.
Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.