Microsoft to Unleash the Social Networking Power of Outlook?

Just read this interesting snippet of information regarding Microsoft’s current R&D efforts in social networking

One project, known as Salsa, aims to use one’s corporate data to piece together their social network, or at least their network of co-workers. In its current form, the software is a plug-in to Outlook that shows social-networking information such as a photo and profile next to an incoming e-mail message. The program also pieces together a list of “friends” based on e-mail frequency and other data.

The Associated Press also reported on this news and added that Salsa”(..) integrates public social networking data such as Facebook.com entries, Twitter.com activity updates, and other information into the email windows of Microsoft Corp.’s Outlook email application. The tool allows people writing and responding to email to know more about the up-to-the-minute status of people they are corresponding with.”

What it means: finally, Microsoft is starting to explore the social networking power of Outlook, possibly the place where most people live their online social lives. I remember, at Mix06, Tim O’Reilly asking Bill Gates when they were going to leverage that installed base (“Outlook for many people is a reflection of their real social network”). I wonder if anyone can work on something like that with the Outlook API? There are reams of data ready to be mined in outlook e-mails (travel information, e-com transactions, events, merchant recommendations, etc.) but you need to show consumers you’re bringing lots of value, if you want them to add your plug-in.

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