I was surprised to learn recently that MySpace has been developing an Outlook plug-in. This is the same MySpace that has all but lost the social networking wars to Facebook and Twitter, and the same MySpace that often found itself near the top of many Worst Websites lists over the years (i.e., worst site PCWorld, 2006 http://www.pcworld.com/article/127116-7/the_25_worst_web_sites.html and fourth-worst site Time.com 2007 http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1638344_1638341_1638339,00.html). But MySpace is not dead yet. The latest revamp of MySpace.com was implemented in March 2010, and they’ve added games and application access to compete with Facebook. The MySpace.com website still leaves a lot to be desired, but what if you could benefit from MySpace without having to use its website? Though most have fled in favor of Facebook and/or Twitter, many people and even small businesses still use MySpace. MySpace makes it easy to display media files, audio and video, and remains a marketing tool for musicians to share their work or demos.

 There are many applications that use the MySpace APIs to access and manipulate MySpace content, including mobile apps (like MySpace for Blackberry) and workstation apps (like TweetDeck and Hootsuite). MySpace has produced an Outlook plug-in to integrate MySpace into the Outlook UI. The plug-in, while still in beta, works with Outlook 2010, as well as Outlook 2003 and 2007 when certain prerequisites are met. You can download the plug-in here: http://www.myspace.com/msoutlook. I used beta version 1.0.0.5 dated March 8, 2010.

 Outlook 2010 adds a social media connector, called Outlook Social Connector (OSC) to integrate contact and status information from other social networks into Outlook. In Outlook 2010, MySpace for Outlook uses the new OSC to provide images and updates from contacts and senders who are also friends in MySpace. If you’re installing the MySpace for Outlook plug-in for Outlook 2003 or 2007, you must first install the OSC.

The OSC beta installation brings the OSC functionality found in Outlook 2010 to Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003 and is available at the Microsoft Download center (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c87e257c-d76f-4785-a09b-af36babd6e32&displaylang=en ).

Outlook 2003 will also require Windows Desktop Search (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/desktopsearch/getitnow.mspx ). MySpace for Outlook on Outlook 2003 also requires Windows Desktop Search (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/desktopsearch/getitnow.mspx ).

 The MySpace for Outlook plug-in is a separate small installation which must be run with the outlook.exe process closed. The simple installation implements a .dll called MySpaceOSC.dll and adds an uninstall option to the Start Menu. MySpace for Outlook doesn’t appear in the Outlook Add-ins list in Outlook because it is an extension of the OSC. After you install MySpace for Outlook, when you first run Outlook you are presented with a window to input your MySpace credentials and add MySpace to the OSC aggregation as shown in Figure 1. MySpace for Outlook doesn’t have a major impact on the Outlook UI. Indeed, if you didn’t know where to look, you might not even notice the new Contacts folder created for MySpace contacts as shown in Figure 2. The MySpace contacts provide a more direct way to send messages to those MySpace profiles. You can send email messages to friends with @myspace.com addresses directly using normal Outlook email.

 MySpace for Outlook polls MySpace.com for changes shortly after Outlook is started and at regular intervals. There is no setting within Outlook to control the polling frequency, and I was unable to reveal an option in the registry to configure this setting. When a friend is added in MySpace, the contact is created in Outlook at the next synchronization with MySpace. There is minimal impact on mailbox storage because the plug-in only synchronizes the main MySpace profile photo, creates a contact in the mailbox, and adds status updates at regular intervals. If a MySpace friend adds videos or photos, only a text status update is downloaded into Outlook, not the actual multimedia. Figure 3 shows a contact with Status Updates and other activities showing at the bottom of the image. The picture for this contact was retrieved from MySpace by the OSC and MySpace for Outlook. Clicking on a friend’s MySpace status in the OSC will launch the default browser, opening MySpace to that status update. The synchronization is one direction only. There is no option to upload content to your MySpace account.

 Documentation for this plug-in is still weak and it is unclear how much new functionality can be expected from this plug-in in the future, though there seem to be opportunities (see Figure 4). I am not sure that MySpace will make a full resurgence; however, steadfast MySpace users who also use Microsoft Outlook may benefit from single interface access through Outlook.