Microsoft has published an updated Lync app for the company's recently released Windows 8.1 operating system.
As its name suggests, the app provides users access to the video conferencing and voice over IP (VOIP) services provided by Lync, Microsoft's enterprise communications platform. The revamped software offers new features and enhancements that leverage Windows 8.1's new capabilities and make it easier to multitask.
New to the Lync app is the ability to take control of shared screens or apps. The feature enables new collaborative and fluid experiences by streamlining the way participants contribute to virtual meetings and presentations. Now, presenters can hand off control of Lync's screen and app-sharing module to attendees that place a request for the floor, so to speak.
Also new is reworked Snap functionality, a multitasking feature present in recent editions of the Windows OS and even the gushed in The Lync Team Blog. Microsoft also relaxed Windows' app-snapping functionality in version 8.1 by doing away with the one-third/two-thirds layouts and enabling users to freely divide up their screens.
Lync also adheres to Microsoft's push to expose more app and OS functionality via the Windows 8.1 lock screen. Now users can answer audio and video calls from the lock screen without unlocking the device, according to the company.
Additional features include in-app mute and volume control, allowing users to tweak their audio independently of Windows speaker volume. A new search component helps users find contacts and colleagues faster and without leaving the app.
Finally, Microsoft said that the update ought to help users stay signed on longer and more reliably.
"This update includes a number of improvements to the sign-in experience so that you can more easily connect and stay connected," stated the company.
The app is the latest in a number of ongoing improvements Microsoft has been rolling out for the Lync platform. In November, the company announced an update to the Lync 2013 desktop client that improved meeting recordings.
New options allowed Lync users to tailor their settings to help alleviate file size bloat and improve the fidelity of recorded meetings. Microsoft's tweaks yielded more manageable, better-looking video files. "Even though file size is dependent on the content in the video, in our tests for regular meetings we have seen one-hour, 720p recordings to be less than 250MB on Windows 8 PCs," reported the company in a blog post.
Other upgrades include in-line photos of IM conversation participants and URL-based profile pictures. Also new are one-click pChat escalation and simplified access to sign-in logs for easier troubleshooting.