There was big news this week on the Lync Front. Starting in early 2015, Microsoft unified communications platform will be re-branded from Lync to Skype for Business. This re-branding change will coincide with a new version of the Lync/Skype for Business client, an in place upgrade for Lync to Skype for Business on premise server and online services tied to Office 365.
he new Skype for Business re-branding will help Lync become a more recognized program. Skype is world renowned with 300 million users. During the last world cup it was noted that at point there were 80 million concurrent users online and using the network. Combine that with Microsoft’s Lync platform’s reported 140, 000 plus user base and enterprise features, and you have an extremely powerful integration of consumer/business unified communications platform.
You might ask why not just adapt Skype into the business world and drop Lync. The merging of the two brings the best of both world. Lync has existed in some form since around 2002 with the first iteration of Microsoft Office Communications Server, they added enterprise voice to the product in 2007. With the introduction of Lync 2010 and the rebranding, Microsoft touted Lync as a PBX replacement and took aim at the corporate market. With enterprise features such as tight active directory integration, integration into Microsof Exchange for voice mail and basic IVR functions, and enterprise class calling features it wouldn’t make sense to scrap Lync. Rebranding it is the best of both world as Lync already has tight integration/federation to Skype.
What will it look like? We have very limited information as far as what this will all look like but there are some screen shots out there. Here is a screenshot of what the client is currently looking like.
We can deduce from this sneak preview of the client is that Skype is tightly integrated, and the entire Skype directory is searchable in the Skype Directory tab beside My Contacts. This is a really neat feature to bring Lync/Skype for Business and their customers closer together. The other big change from the traditional Lync client is look and feel. You do see the re-branded Skype symbol in the top left hand corner on the title bar and the renamed “Skype for Business”.
In summary we know
- Lync is being rebranded as Skype for Business with tighter Skype integration
- There will be changes to the on premise server, client and Office 365 product
- The on premise upgrade will be an in-place upgrade to Lync 2013
- Skype for Business will maintain all of Lync’s features and add some of skypes feature set
- Features such as call transfer are made simpler with one click instead of 3
- All this will happen in the first half of 2015
Stay tuned to early 2015 when these changes will be rolled out and as we learn more information, we will do our best to bring it to you.