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Xobni Email Plug-In Makes Search a Cinch

It might be time to give Outlook an efficiency makeover with Xobni.

For all its market penetration, Microsoft's (MSFT) Outlook -- the benchmark email, calendaring and communications program for businesses both big and small -- remains relatively unmodified by the vast majority of users. Though a growing number of third-party add-in programs can add functionality to Outlook's email and calendaring program, few users choose to download them. Most small business users simply install Outlook as is, then maybe toss in a spam filter or two, and then proceed to stumble through the avalanche of email in their inbox.

That there is functionality to be captured with Outlook plug-ins is without question. There are simply too many programs out there not to help at least some businesses.

For example, OutTwit allows Outlook to control Twitter conversations. A very nice feature supported by Microsoft lets users send short text messages from Outlook. A Skype toolbar can be dropped into Outlook. Or LinkedIn connections can be run from Outlook.

All of these programs, effective as they may be for certain businesses, are still very much at the nerds-only end of the techno sand box. But that may be changing.

Earlier this year, San Francisco-based startup Xobni (that's inbox spelled backwards) released a downloadable plug-in for Outlook that just about any technophobe can install and use. I have been testing the program for the past several months. And while far from perfect -- it takes its toll on processing power -- Xobni is an interesting program that could improve the efficiency of e-mail.

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