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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.
The desktop configurator needs to be installed to get the full functionality out of the desktop applications. Some updates are included in this, plus the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant which installs a plug-in to your browsers to by-pass the need to use the Lync Web App.