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The start page acts as a dashboard for ordinary users of Office 365 to access Office Web Apps, collaborative SharePoint pages, the corporate website and setup applications to set up the desktop applications, like Outlook.
The desktop applications include Lync 2010 and a configuration program which sets up your Outlook with the relevant settings to your cloud-based corporate email.
Lync has a similar feel to older versions of Office Communicator and Windows Live Messenger, and on the whole is pretty comprehensive in its feature set. You name it, it can pretty much do it.