Microsoft unveils Lync-Skype connectivity

Presence, IM and telephony first on deck; video to come later

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced on Tuesday the long-rumored connectivity between users of its Lync unified communications (UC) platform and its Skype VoIP service.

As a result, Lync-Skype connectivity for presence, instant messaging and telephony will be available to Lync users by June. However, the addition of video to the Skype-Lync connectivity is not coming for 18 months, explained Tony Bates, president of Microsoft's Skype division, in a blog.

During his keynote address at Microsoft's first Lync user conference, Bates said: "When we brought Lync and Skype together as one division, we had the opportunity to deliver this incredible communications experience and do it to scale... To that end, we have to break down the barriers so that you don't have to switch from one path to the other. That is why we are so excited that Lync 2013 is connecting with Skype."

Bates related that Lync has 5 million seats of enterprise voice deployed, up from 3 million just 14 months ago, and 90 out of the Fortune 100 companies are Lync customers.

Skype is expected to reach $2 billion in annual sales for the current fiscal year, close to the size of its SharePoint business, Giovanni Mezgec, general manager in the Skype division, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

In his blog entry, Bates noted that Crestron, Logitech's (Nasdaq: LOGI) LifeSize, Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM) and SMART have agreed to bring Lync Room System, Microsoft's new collaboration-enabled conference room platform, to market. Lynch Room System can push the Lync server software into conference rooms with insufficient voice and video capabilities, explained an article in PC World.

Microsoft will make Lync 2013 mobile apps available for Windows Phone 8 and Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS devices in early March, with mobile apps for Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android the following month, Bates noted.

Microsoft has added VoIP and video over IP to all of its apps as well as the ability for iPad users to view shared desktop and app content in a Lync meeting, Bates wrote.

Microsoft is also delivering other Lync products in the next 18 months: a new Lync server in the second quarter of 2014, along with quarterly Lync Online updates; enterprise voice support for Lync Online and Office 365; structured meeting support for Lync Online to enable the transition of Live Meeting customers to Lync; and interoperability between Lync and third-party video teleconferences.

The marriage of Lync and Skype makes sense from a UC perspective. Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011 for a staggering $8.5 billion, has been a leader in consumer VoIP, while Lync supports SIP trunking for enterprises.

For more:
- read Bates' blog
- check out the Bloomberg report
- read the PC World article
- view the keynote speech by Bates

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