Social e-mail is the new pink. And no, we’re not talking about Google Buzz this time.

Microsoft Outlook’s integration of LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace is what seems to be the enterprise’s answer to Buzz, minus the publishing focus and privacy issue backlash. From the look of things, avoiding networking while inside your e-mail is soon going to be near impossible—unless of course, you’re still using IE6 (please, just let go already).

Microsoft’s Outlook Social Connector is Profesh

If you missed our post about it, here’s a quick video explaining how LinkedIn connects to and works with Outlook 2010:

The functionality sounds like it's going to be pretty similar when it comes to the Facebook and Myspace integration—you get your social network fix from right within your inbox. However, Microsoft isn’t positioning the solution as a so-called “time waster.”

The difference comes down to sharing content, which Buzz originally enthusiastically buttressed, but was then virtually maimed for when too much information was made publicly available. With Outlook’s Social Connector, you can still see your contact’s most recent updates as well as their contact information—which auto-updates in your Outlook account whenever a contact changes it on their LinkedIn account—but that’s the extent of it.

Moreover, you have to manually install some plugins to make it work, and that whole automatic sharing thing is nowhere to be found. Meaning? Missing the fact that you’re serving up a bunch of highly private info to the world doesn’t look like a possibility here.

Gartner’s Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond

We hope you enterprise-y folks are onboard with this whole thing, because according to analysts like Gartner, it’s not going anywhere. Here are some predictions they made for 2010 and on:

  • By 2014, social-networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.
  • By 2012, over 50 percent of enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging, but stand-alone enterprise microblogging will have less than 5 percent penetration.
  • Through 2012, more than 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail.
  • Within five years, 70 percent of collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will be modeled after user experience lessons from smartphone collaboration applications.
  • Through 2015, only 25 percent of enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

Social networking to replace e-mail? That's hard to see right now, especially with archiving capabilities as unclear as they are today. 

Sayonara IE6 (and good riddance) 

If you're looking to adapt rather than wither away, in addition to accepting social networking into your e-mail life, you're going to have to kick that dirty ol' IE6 habit as well. 

After Google announced that Apps would be dropping support for the problematic browser starting March 1st, companies like Salesforce.com and Atlassian followed suit

“Of all of our supported browsers, IE6 provides the slowest and least rewarding user experience for our customers," said a mass e-mail sent out to Salesforce.com customers. Meanwhile, Atlassian is scheduled to give IE6 the axe at the launch of JIRA 4.2 (Q3, 2010).