Microsoft Announces Facebook, MySpace Partnerships for Outlook

Microsoft announced partnerships with Facebook and MySpace that would see social-networking information from those services ported into Outlook, as well as the release of LinkedIn for Outlook beta. LinkedIn for Outlook will enable users to view their contacts' updates and photos alongside e-mails, and update their Outlook contact lists with information from LinkedIn. The aggregation of social-networking info into "hubs" on services such as Outlook is a trend being pursued by many companies, ranging in size from Google to Xobni.

Microsoft is partnering with Facebook and MySpace to allow users to see updates, photos and activities from those social-networking services within Outlook, as part of the OSC (Outlook Social Connector) integrated into the upcoming Office 2010. Those social-networking services will join Windows Live and LinkedIn as services capable of being viewed from within Outlook.

Also on Feb. 16, Microsoft announced the public beta of LinkedIn for Outlook.

LinkedIn for Outlook will enable users to view their contacts' updates and photos alongside e-mails, and automatically update Outlook contacts with information from LinkedIn. Once the Facebook and MySpace applications are released, user information from those services will also appear in Outlook.

An Official Microsoft Blog post announcing LinkedIn for Outlook, as well as the Facebook and MySpace partnerships, couldn't seem to resist taking a jab at Google Buzz, the search-engine giant's new Twitter-like social networking application.

"What we think users will appreciate is that the Outlook Social Connector doesn't add another professional or social network into the mix," Dev Balasubramanian, product manager for Microsoft Outlook, wrote in the Feb. 16 posting. "The Outlook Social Connector does offer busy people, who are already a part of one or several networks, convenience."

In a separate Feb. 17 posting on the Microsoft Outlook 2010 blog, Balasubramanian and Outlook program manager Michael Affronti pointed out a link for downloading the LinkedIn for Outlook beta, and suggested that "both Facebook for Outlook and MySpace for Outlook will be available later this year as our official release of Office 2010 approaches."

The announcement suggests that Microsoft is in the race to aggregate its users' social-networking content into a single "hub," a trend being embraced by companies ranging from Google to Xobni. Previously, LinkedIn had also partnered with IBM, Research In Motion and Twitter to port its users' profiles onto those companies' respective networks and devices.

On the Microsoft Outlook 2010 blog, Microsoft also nodded to the privacy concerns currently being raised about social networking.

"The design of the OSC is such that your privacy and permissions settings on each of the networks you use are represented and respected within this experience," the posting added. "For example, if your profile photo and job title are publicly listed on a given network, then OSC users will see your photo and job title when receiving an email from you ... if you choose to restrict profile access on a given network, the OSC will respect that privacy."