This post sponsored by Outlook.com:
For the majority of us, our online connections with friends, family, colleagues and internet celebrities are managed through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. When YASN (Yet Another Social Network) comes along and asks us to rebuild those social connections from scratch – but this time in "their" sandbox – most of us simply change the channel. Instead of asking you to re-create your social sphere, the new Outlook.com preview connects to the social networks you already use – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (and even Google) – to take advantage of the connections and relationships you’ve already created and use every day.
Connect your Facebook account to Outlook.com and your friends' mugs show up in your contacts along with their latest posts that you can comment on or like without having to leave your inbox. As your friends update their contact information in their Facebook profile, that info is automatically updated in your Outlook.com people tab so that you always stay up to date. Twitter integration is also useful, albeit a bit overwhelming if you follow tons of people. You not only see your contacts' tweets, but you can retweet them right in the application.
The beauty is that all of this social interaction lives in the sidebar of Outlook.com to the right of your message window, where you'd expect to see ads. If the email you're reading is from someone you know, or at least someone in your address book, the social stuff appears in place of the ads. In fact, the approach to ads on Outlook.com is worth a separate post in itself…