Microsoft's Outlook program is to feature a public beta for synchronisation with social networking site LinkedIn.

It claimed that this will enable Office 2010 beta users to connect the Outlook Social Connector (OSC) to a public network for the first time and will allow users to connect to their LinkedIn account to view colleagues' status updates and photos next to an email message.

Dev Balasubramanian and Michael Affronti, Outlook product managers, said that Microsoft's vision for Outlook (and the OSC) is to provide a communications hub that is vital to both professional and personal communications.

Additional synching for Facebook and MySpace will be launched later this year as the official release for Office 2010 approaches. Balasubramanian and Affronti said: “By integrating with both Facebook and MySpace, Outlook 2010 enables you to connect not only to co-workers and colleagues, but with all of your friends and family within your Outlook inbox.

“We are proud to continue partnering with LinkedIn and we want to congratulate them on a job well done. With this beta, our customers are able to stay connected to their network without leaving the Outlook inbox.”

Outlook was keen to point out that with multiple professional and social networks available for the OSC, its design is such that users' privacy and permission settings on each of the networks are represented and respected within this experience.

So if a user chooses 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,” said Balasubramanian and Affronti.