Microsoft weaving social networks into Office 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Microsoft is weaving popular social networking services into its latest generation Outlook email program, to be released with an Office 2010 set of applications later this year.

Software that channels LinkedIn updates to Outlook inboxes was available online Wednesday at linkedin.­com/­outlook for people dabbling with a test version of the popular email program.

Microsoft is working with Facebook and MySpace to do the same with content from those online communities, according to Outlook Office group product manager Dev Balas­ub­ra­manian.

"It really is about bringing friends, family, and colleagues into you inbox," Balasubramanian said in a video posted at the US software giant's website.

"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 connection to Outlook lets people using the email program stay in tune with any changes in job status, contact information, or affiliations being shared by friends at the career-focused online community.

"LinkedIn is all about your professional network," said Elliot Shmukler, product management director at LinkedIn, which reports having 60 million members.

"Meanwhile, Outlook powers the professional inbox so the match is very clear."

The test version of Outlook is available online at office.­com/­beta.

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