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Microsoft Promises Skype/Lync Integration For Enterprises

Pedro Hernandez covers Microsoft products and services, such as Office, Windows, Windows Phone, Azure and Skype.

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Microsoft is to deliver stronger Lync-Skype integration as it seeks to disrupt the enterprise communications market

Microsoft is preparing to shakeup its unified communications platform, after Giovanni Mezgec, general manager of Lync, revealed it will bridge the disparate worlds of enterprise and consumer communications.

In June this year Microsoft will enable voice and chat along with presence reporting between Lync and Skype. It’s a move by Microsoft to shift the concept of communications from one that is dependent on place, device and professional context to one that is anchored by people.

Bridging Communications

“At home, at work… We have the tendency of focusing on the environment,” Mezgec told eWEEK in New York City 12 February. “But fundamentally, it’s the people that we want to make productive, and that’s the core focus,” he added.

skypeleadtopLync 2013 represents an opportunity to bridge Microsoft’s business communications platform with the massive user base the software giant inherited when it acquired Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion (£5.4bn).

“By bringing the assets that we have on the consumer front with Skype and on the enterprise front with Lync, we can have a unified platform that really brings communications from the living room to the boardroom in a way that makes sense and is rationalised and connected rather than having disconnected islands,” said Mezgec.

Connecting Lync and Skype wasn’t only an endeavour in the technological sense. It also involved some significant structural changes for Microsoft. Mezgec revealed that Lync, formerly in the business software group at Microsoft, is now part of the new joint Skype division.

At Microsoft’s inaugural Lync Conference in San Diego on 19 February, Tony Bates, former Skype CEO and current president of the Skype division, took to the stage to reiterate the theme of “putting people first” by integrating both technologies. Part of Microsoft’s goal is “the re-humanisation of communications,” said Bates during his keynote speech.

In support of that mission, Lync 2013 sports a streamlined, Windows 8-like interface that at-a-glance emphasises contacts, their status and methods of communicating with them (video, voice or chat). A standalone Windows 8 app is “optimised for touch” and features support for extensive gesture-based interactions.

Significant Updates

Lync 2013 also gets some significant under-the-hood updates. According to Mezgec, it can now accommodate up to 250 attendees per virtual meeting and supports smart video feeds that automatically switch their focus to up 5 speakers. Even the codec, which was changed for improved efficiency and improved streaming fidelity, got a makeover, reported Mezgec.

These enhancements and the fact that Lync 2013 will seamlessly “talk” to Skype, add up to a new humanized era of business communications, claims Microsoft.

In a company blog post, Bates, explained, “This move will begin to enable what we call B2X. B2X places the focus of business communication on enabling human interactions. B2X puts people first and looks at communications in a unified way, not as disparate technology silos focused on one task or protocol.”

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Originally published on eWeek.