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Microsoft connects Web2.0rhea dots in Outlook... bitch

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Microsoft has inked deals with LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook, allowing the Web 2.0 outfits to embed their tech in the software giant’s Outlook Social Connector, which will feature in the Office 2010 mail client.

Redmond first announced OSC in November last year when it released a beta of the Office 2010 suite.

Today’s announcement comes just over a week after Google unleashed Buzz - which is Mountain View’s very own creepy social networking parasite for Gmail.

Microsoft said a public beta of LinkedIn for Outlook was now available for any suits already tinkering with a preview version of Office 2010.

Separately, the company signed deals with Facebook and MySpace. Office 2010 is expected to land in June, at which point customers will be able stalk their mates’ photos and status updates within Outlook.

Following the Buzz backlash last week, Microsoft was today at pains to ease concerns about privacy, even though it did a pretty good job of leaking yet more user data online via Windows Live just yesterday.

“The design of the OSC is such that your privacy and permissions settings on each of the networks you use are represented and respected within this experience. For example, if your profile photo and job title are publicly listed on a given network, then OSC users will see your photo and job title when receiving an e-mail from you (if they use that same network),” said Outlook bosses Dev Balasubramanian and Michael Affronti.

“Similarly, if you choose to restrict profile access on a given network, the OSC will respect that privacy. The goal of the OSC is not to create another social network or set of privacy settings for you to manage, but rather to bring the networks you already value and use to the Outlook experience.”

Like Google, Yahoo! and others, Microsoft is integrating the services to keep customers’ attention spans focused on their corporate net-connected portal.

The Web2.0rhea land grab is proving to be something of a trend among tech titans currently. Google may be well ahead of the pack, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from trying to be the firm’s number two when it comes to generating ad and search revenue online.

Financial terms for the LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook agreements were kept secret. Microsoft has already sunk plenty of cash into Facebook, so perhaps boydroid Mark Zuckerberg has given the vendor this one for gratis. Or not.

Earlier this month Microsoft confirmed it would no longer handle display ads on Facebook, as the companies rejigged the $240m ad pact they agreed in 2007.

"We made the mutual decision that Facebook would take over responsibility for selling display advertisements on its own site," wrote Bing general manager Jon Tinter on 5 February.

"Given the kinds of advertisements that make sense within a product as unique as Facebook, it just made more sense for them to take the lead on this part of their advertising strategy."

But Microsoft will continue to provide search technology on Facebook, including search ads.

Today's OSC fluffer from Microsoft simply represents the company's desire to remain relevant in Google land, even if there isn't quite the Buzz Mountain View might've hoped for this time last week. ®

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