Plaxo is a free contact management service that helps you keep your email address books updated and in sync with one another. Additionally, it can also synchronise your calendar, notes and tasks so that they are available wherever you go. I have been using it for the last few years primarily to keep my home and work copies of Outlook synchronised, but I also find it increbibly useful as a backup tool for if my computer crashes, and for making sure that I have the most up to date information from for my contacts.
Until recently it only allowed for syncing between Outlook and Outlook Express on Windows machines (although there is a web based version as well), but at last they have now begun to expand their support for other platforms such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Yahoo & AOL/AIM which means that a significantly broader user base can now connect to the service.
Plaxo recently announced the beta release of its Mozilla Thunderbird plugin (available for download here) which finally makes Plaxo avaible to Mac & Linux users who previously could only use the online service. This also now means that you can keep your address book in sync between different types of computer and software – e.g. between Outlook on your PC in work and Thunderbird on your Apple at home. Finally, I can ditch Outlook at home in favour of Thunderbird.
Secondly, they have announced a beta release of a new Plaxo Toolbar for IE which will enable Yahoo users to synchronise their address books and calendar items with Plaxo. It also puts all your contacts within easy rech in the IE toolbar. This means that if you use Yahoo at home and Outlook in work you can now be sure that your contacts, calendar entries, tasks and notes will be kept perfectly in sync. Hopefully more web-based email services such as Gmail will be supported in the future.
Finally, a recent Plaxo / AIM Partnership will soon make Plaxo available to the 30M or so AOL Instant Messenger users, which should help to dramatically increase the number of people connected to the network. If you use Plaxo and ou connect to someone else who also uses it, then your contact information is automatically updated if you make changes to it. By tapping into this massive user base, all Plaxo members should discover an increased number of people in their address books whose information is automatically updated.