Outlook Social Connector Integrates Facebook, LinkedIn with Outlook

Last Updated Jul 13, 2010 2:50 PM EDT

The Outlook Social Connector is an Outlook add-on that integrates status updates and more from various social networks -- not unlike the way Xobni does.

It's pretty cool, but until today it was also pretty limited. Compatibility was restricted to Outlook 2010, and the only connectors available were for LinkedIn and MySpace. (Is anyone still using the latter? Certainly no one in the business world.)

Now, however, you can get connectors for both Facebook and Windows Live Messenger, and the OSC itself is now compatible with Outlook 2003 and 2007. This video (which, I'm sorry to say, requires Silverlight) provides the details:

Like I said, pretty cool, but the real news here for Outlook 2003/2007 users is that installing the OSC also adds Outlook 2010's new People Pane -- a decidedly Xobni-like section of the Reading Pane that shows you e-mails, feeds, status updates, attachments, and other stuff for the selected contact.

The only downside to using the Outlook Social Connector is the obnoxious installation process. After downloading and installing it, then restarting Outlook, a box pops up directing you to "view social network providers online." Click that link and you're directed to a Web page with individual installers for Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Windows Live Messenger. Click one of those and you land at another download page. Wash, rinse, repeat -- for each connector you want to install. Oh, and don't forget to close and restart Outlook every time. Ugh.

Still, it's worth the hassle. Even if you're not that interested in the social-networking stuff, the People Pane is a must-have Outlook addition. Consequently, so is the OSC.

More on BNET:

  • Rick Broida On Twitter»

    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.