Thursday, 19 November 2009

New (or rather “future”) social features in Outlook 2010

As an advocate of social computing I was eager to look at some of the social features in Outlook 2010 beta 2 (to say nothing of the features in SharePoint 2010 beta 2!!).

 

I had a spare few minutes today so I thought I’d have a look at what’s there, and I see potential, unfortunately Microsoft aren’t quite there yet. Especially when compared to third party add-ins we’ve had for a while (e.g. LinkedIn and Xobni).

>> on a side note I am a massive fan of the “grab” function in the LinkedIn add-in, you select an email signature and “grab” will automatically create a contact for you!!

 

The advantages Microsoft have the ease of integration with SharePoint 2010, and until we migrate to 2010 I guess I have to miss out on full functionality (except in the test rigs we have).

 

The OOTB experience is OK, you get:

 

   > Conversation history from OCS

   > Emails

   > Meetings

 

Without SP2010 I’m missing:

 

   > Activities (from the Activity feed)

   > Status Updates (from, well, status updates)

 

This is actually quite powerful when you think about what it is offering.

 

image

This people centric view will, IMO, add tangible value to the user experience and facilitate better and more efficient interaction within a business and with the addition of external data, federated OCS, SharePoint Extranets (etc) add contextual user data to inter-business communications.

 

I am pleased that SharePoint and Office are leading Microsoft’s social capability, an obvious next step is to bring the same data into the Office Communicator client…

 

Disappointingly there are no connections to other platforms available yet, but it is still in Beta, so I think we should cut MSFT some slack ;)

 

You can imagine how easy it would be for users to add social platforms, just click “add” then select from the available options:

 

image

 

 

Today, you have SharePoint (2010 only!) in the list, the site where you add more currently states:

 

Currently, there are no social network add-ins available as of the beta release of Outlook 2010.  But in the months to come, this page will be updated with links to new partner networks as they become available. 

In addition to the add-ins that Microsoft and our partner social networks produce, we are making a software developers’ kit available that includes documentation on how to build an add-in for any network you choose. 

Please check back often for updates.

 

One thing that is currently confusing me is where it is trying to get the contact images from (see below).

 

image

It seems that there is an inconsistency here… I can only assume that it is looking for the picture in AD (??).

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