Xobni Twitter
Xobni streams contacts' tweets. (Credit: Xobni)

Microsoft Outlook search extension Xobni (Windows) gets a new extension of its own this week: Twitter.

Best known for speedily hunting down e-mail contacts and conversations in Microsoft Outlook, Xobni also has a social networking aspect. It includes photos courtesy of Facebook, phone numbers via Skype, Yahoo Mail, LinkedIn profile information, corporate information from Hoover's, and now, a Twitter stream.

Click on the Twitter icon in the contact view to see a list of recent tweets. Icons below get you started on a reply, retweet, or new post. You can also follow, unfollow, and view the person's profile. Note that tweets may not be available for every Xobni contact. If they're not public and you're not an approved follower, you won't see much in the updates stream.

Associating a Twitter account with a contact isn't automatic. For each contact whose account you want to see, Xobni will trigger a search for matches. It will remember associations once you've approved them, making this a one-time process. You can also manually link a name to the contact you're viewing. We wish the Twitter extension were as smoothly integrated as the Facebook extension, which takes no legwork at all.

But if you do take the time to set up Twitter for some contacts, you'll be rewarded with a more intimate portrait of people in your casual and business circles. Instead of just a name, you might also see a face, a Skype number, and, with Twitter, a sense of your contact's personality and interests. Even if you're not attempting to humanize people you've never met in real life, Xobni's Twitter integration can also be a convenience tool that lets you post a tweet without having to close or hide Outlook.

While Twitter in Xobni covers the major bases, it won't replace dedicated desktop apps for heavy-duty tweeters. For that, see our roundup of five desktop Twitter helpers.

The latest update--Xobni 1.8.3 build 8559--also includes back-end adjustments to improve search speed, Windows 7 compatibility, and a handful of other tweaks and big fixes.

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.