Microsoft unified communications tool Lync-Skype gets updated

The Microsoft unified communications roadmap combines Lync and Skype to ease work and home interactions. But do employees need this connectivity?

Microsoft updated the roadmap for its Lync unified communications platform recently, detailing how it will more tightly connect Lync and Skype for presence, instant messaging and voice. The company also showed off Lync 2013 mobile apps for Windows Phone, Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

The company hopes that by marrying Lync, Skype and other products over the next 18 months, it can seamlessly tie employees' work and home environments, according to the Microsoft unified communications strategy.

"We are all simultaneously consumers and professionals, friends [and] family; and our communications technologies need to move between these dimensions as seamlessly as we do," said Tony Bates, president of Microsoft's Skype Division, during a keynote address at the first Lync Conference this week.

In filling out its roadmap, Microsoft said the next version of Lync Server will be available in the second quarter of 2014. Officials said the Microsoft-hosted version of Lync server, called Lync Online, will be updated on a quarterly basis, which is the same schedule as Office 365.

Lync-Skype connectivity is due out in June, and it approaches communications in a unified way rather than as technology silos. It enables what Microsoft officials refer to as "B2X," using business communications to encourage human interactions.

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"What we showed today for the first time was Lync and Skype connecting, where you can make a call from Skype to Lync and from Lync to Skype," said Giovanni Mezgec, a senior director at Microsoft. "This means with a Lync client, I can put in a connection with a Skype ID. I will be able to see the presence information of the Skype ID, as well as initiate a text message or voice call."

Also expected sometime over the next 18 months is enterprise voice support for Lync Online, along with structured meeting support for both Lync Online and Lync Server. The latter capability allows those still using Live Meeting to more easily move over to Lync, company officials said.

Microsoft also debuted Lync Room System to help create "collaboration-enabled conference rooms." The technology is intended to makes it easier to share content on a computer in the same way users share videos.

The Lync Room system can be configured so that users can start meetings without having to manually hook up a number of different teleconferencing components. Four vendors, including Creston, LifeSize, Polycom and SMART, pledged to bundle Room System with their products.

This was last published in February 2013

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What do you think of Lync-Skype connectivity?
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Works like a charm. Great feature and now I think it was right investment by Microsoft.
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Waiting anxiously!
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inevitable
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Only for remote office work. Leave my family out of work stresses.
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Good solution for those who has family and need to travel a lot.
Very very good.
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They need to allow Enterprises the ability to control this integration and ensure proper Governance can be applied to it's use.
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Looking forward to "expansive" access
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sounds good
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This will be fine
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The two products are already similiar the merger just makes sense.
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At least 2 major international companies I know of ban Skype because of the lack of security and the ability to be spied on. One even wrote a paper on it. Looks like we will have to ditch Lync as well :-(
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It's going to take lots of work to get the integration and user experience right, but it's probably the right direction (how many products/code bases will Microsoft be throwing away in the process?).
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Can't wait for it
Hope it will not be too expensive as is the usual case with MS products here in Australia
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I need Lynk on my Android! Please !
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That will be nice to have a single interface for both lync and skype contacts. I hope this will be supported using lync 2010 server infrastructure as well.
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good integration if it would be smooth
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the world wants connectivity everywhere and with office 365 and cloud backup solutions we can offer them zero clients where everything is at once interconnectable but also has zero local admin overhead.
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Awesome plan
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I'm concerned that the natural work | life boundaries are being blurred too much. The Boss will be able to interrupt my private life, simply because he can see me online when I am not at work.
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What a stupid thing to do. Skype is banned from some corporate desktops due to the insecurity it introduces, the government spying capability and the opportunity for data loss. It further blurs the work/home lines. Crackers.
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Definitely the right way to go!!!
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wonderful
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If both belong to Microsoft, then they should work together, seamlessly. That's expected from customers and that's what Microsoft should be doing.
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I think this is terrific step
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Presents awareness in the home place is bad enough already. Addressess and connectivety awareness is nothing new. Cable has been doing it for along time very similarly how you able to tract where this message is coming from!
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I don't like MS trying to force Skype down everyone's throat.
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Integrating Lync and Skype is a major step forwards to allowing people to communicate internally over Lync and with business partners and colleagues over Skype together with better SIP integration of the products.
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Waiting eagerly to happen....
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good direction
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The quicker, the better! And the full integration of calls Lync-to-phone is a must (not only with Lync E4 Plan as it is now).
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I would also like the option to separate them, as I would like to separate work and personal. However, I do reckon that there may be a need to link them at times.
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Ease of use will drive adoption so it'll have to be straightforward
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