Last November, Microsoft announced an add-on for Outlook called the Social Connector. At first, it only worked with new social networking features in the company’s SharePoint 2010 intranet platform. On Tuesday, it got interesting even for Outlook users who aren’t on SharePoint, as Microsoft and LinkedIn announced LinkedIn for Outlook, which uses the Social Connector to weave together the Outlook and LinkedIn experiences. (Microsoft says that similar features for Facebook and MySpace are on their way.)
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I’m jetting home from DEMOfall 09 (on a Wi-Fi enabled plane–God bless Virgin America). The show ended with an awards ceremony that included best-of-show honors for the conference’s best consumer-oriented product and best business-related one, as judged by a panel of experts. (Each company got $500,000 worth of advertising at publications and sites owned by my former employer, IDG, as well as DEMO producer Matt Marshall’s VentureBeat.)
I didn’t get to chime in, but if I had, I might have voted for the two products that won. The consumer champ is Emo Labs’ invisible speakers, which I’ve been raving about since I heard them back in January. And the other is a nifty-looking item I haven’t written about yet: Liaise, an add-in for Outlook that examines your emails and automatically and intelligently creates sharable action items based on the information it finds. (I love the idea, but it’s so wildly ambitious that I need to see more than canned demos before I can give it an unqualified thumbs up–even so, I’m already hoping it’ll come to Gmail.)
Emo’s technology may not show up in flat-panel TVs until 2010’s holiday season, where it’ll probably add 10-15% to the cost of the set over more mundane speakers; Liaise is in private beta and should be available soon for under $10 a month. Both are clever ideas that stood among the crowd of around 70 exhibiting companies–almost all of the rest of which involved Web-based services and/or iPhone apps.