Email once ruled as the supreme commander of computer-based communications, the fastest and most effective way for people to exchange messages and information. That's no longer the case. For better or worse, social networking services such as Facebook increasingly seem to be supplanting them.

The free Microsoft Outlook Social Connector tries to merge the power of social networking with that of email, giving you access to the social networking services Facebook and LinkedIn from right within Outlook. To a large part, it succeeds.

After you install the software, it integrates directly into Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010. It runs as a new pane at the bottom of Outlook's messaging window. The pane serves multiple purposes. It shows you their latest updates from LinkedIn and Facebook.

Microsoft Outlook Social Connector shows all of your communications with the person: all the emails, attachments and meetings you've had with them. It lists them by type, so that you can see all emails, for example, all meetings, all attachments, and so on. The list appears instantaneously.

It's a superb tool even if you don't use the social networking part of it, because even without that, it shows your email communications with the person. It's similar to the free Xobni add-in, and not quite as powerful as it doesn't offer the Twitter support that Xobni does.


One thing missing is that you can't post updates from Outlook to social networking services. Still, Microsoft Outlook Social Connector is a very useful tool, one which every Outlook user should give a try even if they don't use social networks.