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Skype News & Analysis

Unify Wants You to Call Customers with Your Browsers

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A new round of competition has ignited a field that many considered all but dead just last year.

Microsoft’s extension of Skype communications into the enterprise, replacing the Lync brand, and Cisco’s formal unveiling of Spark put unified communications (UC) back in the spotlight.

Unify — the former Siemens Enterprise Communications — scrambled this week to get attention, too. It reaffirmed its commitment to building a business communications and collaboration platform that needs only web browsers. By adding features to its collaboration platform called Circuit, it hopes it attain at least the perception of parity in this crowded field.

You Called? Lync Is Out, Skype for Business Is In #Conv15

The Skype communications platform officially became part of Microsoft Office today At the Convergence conference in Atlanta, the company announced the end of the Lync era with the launch of the Skype for Business technical preview.

It is indeed Skype.

With this new edition, the directory scheme is effectively flattened, making traditional Skype users available on calls placed through the Skype for Business client — formerly the Lync client.

The traditional Skype calling system, which uses P2P protocol over the Internet and the SILK codec for call clarity, is now bolted onto the Business edition as well.

But with a few other feature exceptions, the client remains quite similar.

MegaChat Is No Skype Killer, But It's Not MegaUpload Either

Controversial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, the guy behind the now-shuttered MegaUpload, is at it again. He's got a new product, MegaChat, and a new boast: he claims MegaChat, an end-to-end encrypted voice and video chat service his company launched in beta yesterday, is a “Skype killer."

It’s unlikely Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will see it that way — and frankly we don't either. But MegaChat is targeted at people who are wary of Skype’s security, so it may have a future.

Dotcom claims MegaChat offer users completely private video and voice calling with text and video conferencing slated to follow. And it proves something else, Dotcom tweeted:

Google Takes on the Tower of Babel

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If you have ever used the Google Translate tool to translate text from one language to another, you will know that it is limited. However, Google announced this week that it was not only improving the service, but that it was also offering translations in real time through Android and iOS devices.

TheTranslate app already lets you take a photo of text and get a rendition of it in one of 35 languages. This next step forward will allow users to take snap shots of street signs with a phone camera and have them translated into another language automatically, with the translated text layered the original photo.

Build Better Knowledge Management

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Long before Google Glass wearers made the news (and became pariahs within San Francisco-area coffee houses and restaurants), research projects at huge companies like IBM and Microsoft sought to bridge the gap between the capture and storage of corporate knowledge and intellectual property, and the difficult-to-archive individual narrative that attempted to make sense of this important, yet mostly disconnected content.

The effort of transcribing a personal experience or individual learning in context to our projects, business initiatives and other corporate artifacts (e.g., presentations, documents, spreadsheets) is incredibly difficult to accomplish in a way that can then be utilized by our knowledge management systems.

The problem with knowledge management (KM) is not a matter of data infrastructure -- whether your data resides on premises, in servers that you manage versus out in the cloud is irrelevant (to some degree) to the argument -- but with a user experience that fails to align the needs of the complex, non-linear playback mechanisms of the human brain with our systems of record.

Skype-Lync Video Calling Available (For Some)

2014-09-December-Chatting.jpgMicrosoft announced it's rebranding of Lync to Skype for Business to much fanfare last month. This went beyond a rebranding exercise, and involved joining the Lync infrastructure with Skype. The timing of when this would be completed was unclear, aside from a vague promise of sometime in 2015. 

At the end of last week, Microsoft took a major step forward in this project. Users of both platforms can now hold video calls with each other -- provided they have the latest version of Skype for Windows and Lync 2013. But not everyone is happy.

Bye-Bye Microsoft Lync, Here Comes Skype For Business

2014-11-12 skype for business.jpgWhen Microsoft paid $8.5 billion in cash for Skype in 2011, it left some scratching their heads where the product would fit in the Microsoft ecosystem. And while Microsoft has since integrated the software into a number of its products, we now have a better sense of its future. As of next year, the Lync name will disappear and be replaced by Skype for Business.

This is not just a rebranding exercise. It involves joining together the Lync infrastructure with Skype, which includes the ability to use on-premises servers, optional integration with external communications networks and the use of the Skype interface on top of Lync.

Can Skype Translator Bust the Language Barrier?

While being interviewed on stage at the Recode Code Conference yesterday in Pailo Alto, Calif., Windows CEO Satya Nadella demonstrated some new technology the company has been working on. 

Skype Translator, as it is currently known, will give Skype near real time translation capabilities. The program -- which will be available on all devices -- currently supports 40 languages and is slated for consumer beta later this year. 

Nadella demonstrated the program in a phone call with Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Skype, who spoke German while Skype translated. Nadella spoke English, which was, similarly, translated by Skype for the benefit of Pall. 

In a blog post addressing the first public demonstration of the forthcoming technology, Pall had this to say: 

In our industry, we often talk about pursuing big, bold dreams, and how we're limited only by the power of our imaginations. Skype Translator is one of those endeavors, and I look forward to keeping you apprised of our journey to break down another barrier to human productivity and connection." 

Ex-Skype CMO: Leadspace is the 'Industry's Best Kept Secret'

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It’s pretty cool being the chief marketing officer of a company whose product owns a third of the international market in its space. 

We know. We asked. 

Doug Bewsher led the marketing teams at Skype as the instant messaging and video-chat service grew to 750 million users, including owning a third of all international calls. Microsoft bought it in 2011 for $8.5 billion.

“Skype is one of the great success stories in terms of being one of the most pervasive brands on the Internet,” said Bewsher, whose appointment as CEO of B2B social demand generation provider Leadspace became official today. “… We had a vision of breaking down barriers to communication.”

Document Mgt Roll-up: Mostly SharePoint #SPC14

You can argue it if you want, but this week was all about SharePoint -- and little about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and AX. In fact, as one of our editors pointed out, there’s more SharePoint than you could shake a stick at — largely as a result of the SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas.

In no particular order, here are some of the items that either slipped under the radar or which caught our attention. There is also some mention of Microsoft Convergence Dynamics.

So Bill Clinton is a SharePoint Expert? #SPC14

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It's hard to think of former President Bill Clinton as a SharePoint geek. But Clinton is always full of surprises — whether it's a spur-of-the-moment  trip to Burma or an appearance at the Golden Globes.

So maybe his selection as the keynote speaker at SharePoint Conference 2014 isn't as random as it seems. Besides, conferences have long histories of selecting keynote speakers with little or no connection to the topics at hand.

Another One Bites the Dust: RIP Microsoft Exchange Server 2003

Along with Windows XP, life support is running out for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. If your business is still running this 11-year-old mail, contact and calendar server, prepare to face a black hole when it comes to future problems.

With many businesses already using one of the server's three future generations — and with alternatives like Zimbra, Novell GroupWise and others — what will laggards pick when they finally move on? Cloud-based office solutions are just one appealing option.

Microsoft, Snapchat Downplay Cyberattacks

Skype Reportedly Hacked + Snapchat User Data LeakedTwo popular online services are off to a good start in 2014 — for hackers, anyway. 

One cyberattack involved Skype, the Internet calls service owned by Microsoft. The service's Twitter and Facebook accounts, along with the service's blog page, displayed messages Wednesday purporting to be from the Syrian Electronic Army.

The other involved Snapchat, the Venice, Calif.- based messaging service. Hackers compromised about 4.6 million Snapchat accounts — and posted the phone numbers of affected users to a downloadable database on a website called snapchatdb.info.

Toss Your iPhone: Windows Phones Could Rule the Enterprise by 2015

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Despite iOS and Android's huge consumer mobile sales and the rise of bring your own device (BYOD) policies, Microsoft still has a shot at becoming the dominant force in mobile enterprise. 

Business connectivity, SharePoint and Office integration for Windows Phone 8 will earn it many friends in the enterprise. And Microsoft will place increasing emphasis on its mobile offering as the desktop market continues to stagnate. As sales rise, developers are returning to populate the app marketplace.

5 Things to Banish from Digital Offices

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Every day something in the digital office annoys a few hundred million workers. Not enough to stage a mass revolt, but just enough to ferment our collective disdain for technology.

Here's a wish list of things those of us at CMSWire would like developers, vendors and IT specialists to fix in 2014. Their cooperation will help save our souls from everything from the inevitable cloud outage to expletives over the latest snafu and personalized ring tones that sound like moose calls. 

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