Microsoft has revealed that Facebook real-time updates are now part of the package in Outlook 2010. There's also plug-ins available to get your Facebook info if you're still using Outlook 2003 or 2007.

The Outlook Social Connector means up to date Facebook data, such as news-feeds, wall posts and photos will now be available from within Outlook, without the need to open your browser.

Your Facebook friends can be integrated with your Outlook contacts; so when you receive a mail you can see all of your contacts recent social networking activity alongside their profile pic. You also get the details of everyone else included in the mail - if you are Facebook friends with them already.

There's no need to keep hitting refresh either - messages are instantly pushed to Outlook.

Microsoft has also announced support for Windows Live Messenger, so with Outlook Social Connector you can now see Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Windows Live Messenger details, all from within the program.

Unfortunately, for the time being at least, it's a one-way road - you can only receive info, you can't like statuses or post your own updates, although Microsoft says that this is the next step.

This is a good move from Microsoft, who are no mugs when it comes to realising how important social networking is nowadays (they own a $240 million stake in Facebook already).

Tablets and smartphones have made it much easier to have all of your social network and email information in one place and it is about time the big desktop packages caught up.

Are you an Outlook user? Will you be taking advantage of the new social network integration? Tell us what you think using the comments below.

Check out the announcement video below as well, which gives more details:

Get Microsoft Silverlight