Improvements in Lync 2013

Lync 2010 was Microsoft’s software for unified communication.  It was a robust product and had tons of great features but you could tell this was their first edition at this type of software.
The interface was good but it was lacking a lot of key features.   One of my biggest pet peeves with the software was if you had several IM threads open and a video conference call you rely on the windows taskbar to switch windows which can be a real pain keeping track of all the conversations.  Another short coming was in a group video conference call only one person could be seen at a time.  Other products like GoToMeeting and Google Hangout had multiple video streams simultaneously.
These features have been fixed and many more have been improved in Lync 2013.
The first thing you notice with Lync 2013 is the total interface redesign.  Microsoft has chosen to make their full product offering have a new “flat” and simplistic theme.  Office 2013, Lync 2013 and Windows 8 all have a similar feel to them.  All shadows and 3D elements have been removed.  All buttons and icons are in the same location so someone coming from 2010 will not see much of a learning curve.
The best improvement is the tabbed conversation window.  Much like a web browser with multiple tabs, Lync 2013 puts all your conversations into a single window with multiple tabs.  This is far more efficient
Video conferences have been improved by allowing all participants on the call to be viewed in gallery mode.   During a video call the software automatically detects your face and keeps you centered and if a second person joins you it recognizes this and widens your video feed.  This is a huge improvement from 2010.
Another improvement is the addition of persistent chat rooms.  Chat rooms can be created for different departments or incidents and they remain open for ongoing discussion. The new chat rooms can be followed so you can view the conversation history without being in the room.  There are three levels of privacy for the chat rooms.  Open privacy allows anyone to join, closed is invite only, and secret is only viewable to those invited.  These chat rooms also have two new features called the EGO feed and topic feed.  The EGO feed alerts you anytime your name is mentioned in any chat room you follow.  The topic feed lets you tag buzz words that when any time that word is mentioned you get alerted.
Finally almost every icon or button inside a conversation has a preview window.  Hovering your mouse over the call buttons shows all the numbers you can call, hovering over the video icon shows you want your video feed will look like, hovering over the presentation icon shows all the different things that can be shared like desktop, PowerPoint, whiteboard, or poll, and hovering over the people icon allows for more people to be invited to the conversation.
Overall Lync 2013 is a great improvement to 2010.  The interface is clean and less cluttered, the video conferencing is great now that all viewers can be seen at once,  the tabbed windows allows for much quicker switching between conversations, the chat rooms and the EGO and topic feeds allow for better IM conversations, and the preview windows make everything easier to find.