There’s been a lot of Microsoft action this week. MS finally released Lync, Verizon’s IP mobility and networking components now integrate with MS online services and AvePoint migrates your content into SharePoint online.

Microsoft Releases Lync

You may recall the rebranding of BPOS as Office365 last month and the announcement that it would be released next year. For SMBs the advantages of the new product will be enormous, with new pricing scales that put SharePoint firmly within their grasp.At that time however, MS Lync, which is to be part of Office365, still hadn’t been released.

This week, all has been remedied with the announcement that Lync is now available in a downloadable trial version, with full availability being released on December 1st.

Microsoft Lync is the new family brand of products formerly known as Microsoft Communications Server, Microsoft Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Communicator. The brand now includes Microsoft Lync Web App and Microsoft Lync Online as well.

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.

Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft Business division, indicated that MS is hoping that this will be a billion dollar business in much the same way that SharePoint has been. "It feels to me like another SharePoint business," DelBene said.

Even Bill Gates made an appearance by video link. He reckoned that it will be the biggest release to office workers since the invention of the PC.

We’ll reserve judgement on that one, but whatever anyone says, it will make communication a lot easier. For the SMB market, it will add to the already considerable firepower they get with Office365.

AvePoint Supports Office365

Meanwhile AvePoint (news, site) has also been working around the Office365 release. Last week, it announced that the DocAve Software Platform now provides beta support for Microsoft Office 365.

DocAve enables seamless migration to online SharePoint environments, accommodating content from 14 different legacy sources, as well as hybrid management of on-premise and cloud SharePoint environments through a single software platform.

SMB users who decide to go down the Office365 route to access SharePoint online will be able to use DocAve to migrate SharePoint content into Office365 beta and will be able to take part in a trial that will run in parallel with Office365 beta into next year.

DocAve already enables users to take content from 14 different legacy systems and enter it into SharePoint and allows those who wish to run an on-premise SharePoint deployment in tandem with an online SharePoint deployment to do so with ease. 

With the beta release of Office365, many organizations that could not afford SharePoint will now have access. AvePoint has been quick to see the potential. For those of you who want to take part in the beta, you can contact AvePoint.

Verizon Integrates with MS Online Service

Verizon (news, site) has also been working with Microsoft. This week, it announced that it is now offering SMBs an all-in-one offering that takes Verizon's IP networking and mobility components and integrates them with Microsoft’s online services. The bundle is designed to let users connect, communicate and collaborate from the cloud.

The result -- Verizon users will be able to access Microsoft's cloud collaboration tools anytime, anywhere and from any device.

This is only the latest in Verizon’s moves on the SMB market. In September it launched a cloud computing service for SMBs to supplement a cloud service for large companies that it launched last year.

SM Marketing Spend to Rise

In the social media space, research predicts that social media marketing budgets are set to rise. Key factors prompting marketing budget growth in 2011 are increased expectation of the role and impact of social media and the realized return on investment in email marketing.

The survey of more than 750 SMBs respondents, fielded by Zoomerang (news, site) and GrowBiz Media, a SMB content provider and consultant, looked at how companies with fewer than 1,000 employees plan to allocate 2011 budgets.

Heading into 2011, most SMBs plan to increase their market spending in both online and print mediums, with online activities receiving the largest increases. Among the marketing initiatives expected to increase the most are email, website and social media marketing.

Among the more than 750 businesses surveyed, 34 percent indicated that they currently use social media in their marketing efforts. Of those using social media, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were the most common channels chosen, used by 80 percent, 37 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

If you want to see more, get the full report at Zoomerang to view the full report at Zoomerang.

Avaya Releases Office v6.1

Finally, more IP news, this time from UK-based Avaya, which has just introduced a new version of Avaya IP Office, its flagship communications solution for SMBs and adding Linux.

One of the principal focuses of this release was to reduce the time to install IP Office and improve IP Office's suitability for distributed SMBs. It has done this by consolidating its IP Office Core Services onto a single DVD.

One of the other features that should please is the newly designed Web-based desktop communications interface for remote, mobile and office workers, and features a newly-designed, customizable interface with drag and drop application gadgets.