Microsoft today unveiled a new version of its Lync app, which takes advantage of unique new Windows 8.1 features, including the improved Snap view, detailed notifications, app-specific volume and more. Here's what's new.

If you're familiar with the Skype app in Windows 8.1 some of these features will look instantly familiar. It's nice to see Microsoft getting some consistency across these similar apps.

New to Lync for Windows 8.1 are:

Take control of screen sharing. If someone else is sharing the screen (or an app) in a Lync meeting, you can take control of the screen (or app) and interact with it (if they let you, of course).

Snap. Where Windows 8-based apps that support Snap are limited to a single screen width in snapped view, Snap has been improved dramatically in Windows 8.1 to support different widths. So you can now snap the Lync app to any size you wish.

Improved notifications. Like Skype, the Lync app supports an improved notification toast with Video, Voice and Decline icons, and this notification will even appear on the lock screen if you're not signed in. No need to unlock it first.

In-app volume control. You can now control the volume of the Lync app (including mute) separately from the system volume.

Contact search. You can search for a specific contact directly from within the app now.

Other improvements. Additionally, Microsoft made the sign-in process more reliable.

The new version of the Lync app requires Windows 8.1 (or Windows RT 8.1, of course). You can download it now for free from the Windows Store, though anyone with the previous version will get the update automatically within 24 hours.