Yesterday, representatives from Microsoft visited the Inc. offices to give a detailed preview of the Office 2010 suite, which is due out this spring. Here are some highlights of the new Microsoft Outlook:
1. Outlook's new Social Connector feature allows you to view profile information for e-mail contacts below each message, including a profile picture and feeds from Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace. (Microsoft is currently in talks with Twitter to add those updates as well). Companies can do some extra work and customize feeds to aggregate other people-centric information, such as CRM data.
2. For de-cluttering inboxes, a handy Clean Up button lets you delete all redundant messages in a long e-mail thread.
3. Not interested in reading a chain of e-mails about the company picnic? An Ignore button lets you automatically move an entire conversation, including future messages, to your deleted items folder.
4. New Quick Step buttons can be customized to do multiple actions in one step. For example, if you are receiving e-mails for a project you are no longer working on, you can create a button that automatically replies all, forwards the message to the appropriate contacts, and deletes the e-mail from your inbox.
5. Using the new Outlook and Exchange Server 2010, you can now receive voicemail recordings in your inbox, along with a one-line voice-to-text preview of the messages (though even the Microsoft rep doing the demo admitted the transcriptions are less than perfect).
Pricing: $149.99 for Outlook 2010, or $499 for the Professional edition of Microsoft Office 2010, which includes the new version of Outlook.
Availability: The new Office suite will be available to businesses in May and hit retail stores, including Best Buy, in June. Read more about Office 2010 in The New Microsoft Office Suite.