In the article entitled Wonder Why MSN Didn't Think of This?  Mary Jo Foley writes

Or, maybe it has but just has yet to announce it…. On Monday, AOL announced a beta of AIM Sync, a tool that effectively turns Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client into a massive AOL Instant Messaging buddy list.

The implication here is that similar integration of instant messaging presence information does not exist between Outlook and MSN Messenger. This is actually incorrect. This feature exists today in Outlook 2003 and is called the Person Names Smart Tag. Below is a screenshot of my email inbox showing the feature in action.

email inbox shoing mike champion's online status

In fact, this feature is a cause of a common annoyance among users of MSN Messenger and Outlook. Many people have complained that they can't close MSN Messenger if Outlook is running. This is the feature responsible for that behavior. Disabling it removes the dependency between both applications.  

It's good to see yet another of our competitors learning from our innovations.