Microsoft plans to release a new version of its Lync communications platform that will be compatible with Windows 8 and Windows RT-based devices. Lync 2013 will be available as both a mobile app and desktop client.
Delivering the Full Lync Experience via Mobile Device
The new Lync app, slated for release at the end of October 2012, will be optimized for touchscreen devices (which at this point covers virtually any mobile device released in the last few years) and provides integration of voice, video, telepresence, IM and online Lync Meetings. Using the H. 264 SVC (Scaling Video Coding) standard, Microsoft says Lync Meetings will be delivered to devices of varying screen sizes without “heavy transcoding.”
In addition, the new mobile app will deliver VoIP and video to Windows Phone, iOS and Android devices and be compatible both Lync Server 2010 and Lync Server 2013.
Connecting to Skype, Office
Microsoft also plans to connect Lync to the Skype VoIP service, which it purchased in May 2011. Lync users will have full access to Skype users, including “seeing” their availability and directly communicating with them via IM, phone call or telepresence.
Furthermore, connections between Lync and Microsoft Office will enable activities such as presence information, click-to-communicate capabilities and social network integration. In addition, Office users will have direct access to Lync communications and meetings directly from Office documents, and the new SharedOneNote feature will let Lync Meeting attendees all share and work from the same iteration of a note created in Office.
Microsoft Lync Joins the ‘Elites’
CRN is gung ho about the upcoming revamped version of Lync, stating that “Lync's embrace by both customers and the channel thrust Microsoft into the elite class of unified communications (UC) providers, where it competes head to head with Cisco, Avaya, Siemens Enterprise Communications and a number of smaller vendors.” Considering the general acknowledgement of Cisco as the leader in unified communications, placing Microsoft in the same UC category is high praise indeed.
Billion Dollar Baby?
Microsoft released Lync in November 2010 with much fanfare as the new family brand of products formerly known as Microsoft Communications Server, Microsoft Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Communicator. The brand also includes Microsoft Lync Web App and Microsoft Lync Online. As a single platform, it integrates instant messaging, presence, audio, video and web-conferencing with a single interface that can be linked with Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange.
At the time of release, Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Business division, indicated that Microsoft was hoping that Lync will be a billion dollar business in much the same way that SharePoint has been. A billion dollars is a lofty goal, even for Microsoft -- but the upcoming revisions to Lync, particularly on the mobile side, should bring it at least a little closer to the hopes and dreams expressed at its birth.