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Lync is the communications (voice and IM) leg of the Office 365 suite of cloud based products. In this screenshot, you see how easy it is to add other colleagues to your contact list, just like any other instant messenger. Depending on the 'relationship' you have with that person, you can categorise and divulge more information as required.
If Joe is busy, he can refuse to pick up the phone, and can reply with a button that says "Send an instant message instead", for example if they are in a meeting or on another call.
The instant messaging capability is constistent with other Microsoft products, and it is easy to get started and start talking. All of the functionality of OCS and Windows Live Messenger is installed, without the pointless winks or Flash animations that get in the way, but does include things like a whiteboard, emoticons and file sharing.