The Associated Press reports that today Microsoft will be releasing a "beta" test version of the Outlook Social Connector. The Outlook Social Connector is an add-on that brings with it a new panel to the main screen in Outlook. When a user clicks to read an e-mail message, the new pane fills up with the sender's most recent social-networking activities. Those could include the addition of a professional contact on LinkedIn or a "what I'm doing now" status update from Facebook.
Right now, the Social Connector software doesn't allow Outlook users to push data or updates back to Facebook or LinkedIn, which is probably for the best. Outlook is fiercely popular with businesses, so it's hard to imagine big companies jumping for joy at the thought of everyone Facebooking and Tweeting from their email accounts.
It's not yet clear whether or not Social Connector will work for people who are tied to a network that has social networking sites blocked. Check out the video of LinkedIn inside Outlook below.
Click here to download Social Connector (Outlook 2003, 2007, or 2010 is required).