Microsoft Enters the Social Networking Game

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Last year, in November, the Outlook Social Connector was launched and Microsoft entered the social networking game.  At that point, LinkedIn was the only partner, but it was a good start.  Rather than building a new network, ala Google’s Buzz, the Seattle Giant went for combination of existing networks to facilitate easier networking throughout.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced on their blog that the Outlook Social Connector has now stretched from LinkedIn and is including Facebook and MySpace as well.  This big jump means that your Outlook box could become your new FriendFeed and directly compete with Google’s Buzz.

LinkedIn is, understandably, quite happy with this teaming with Outlook.  In fact, the ad-on for the MS email app can be downloaded from LinkedIn as well.  Now that all of this new MS Outlook stuff is out in the public beta phase, a lot of us are expecting more connections to be coming quickly.

The problem here, which will probably change quickly, is that the input to Outlook is only one-way.  So far, the information from LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace is incoming-only and Outlook can’t send updates the other way.  Given the API availability from these networks, however, it likely won’t take long for that to change.  Another thing obviously missing is Twitter, but again, with their API and popularity, it’s likely just a matter of time there too.

The competition for Buzz is obvious and, given the Office suite’s popularity, it could become more than a contender.  While part of the official Office 2010 beta, the Social Connector beta can also be used with 2003 and 2007 Office versions.


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