The future of Microsoft’s Lync Server has been revealed!
If you’ve been paying attention to the evolution of Lync over the past two years, none of this will come as a surprise to you. When the next version of Lync becomes available in early 2015, it will be rebranded as Skype for Business, and will include new client and server experiences and of course an update to Office 365.
You may have anticipated this happening way back in early 2013 when Microsoft revealed that it had moved Lync into the Skype organization instead of Office. Microsoft essentially established a timeline for bringing Lync and Skype closer together.
The future update to Lync is a big one. Changes will include new versions of the client—or rather “clients”, as there will be desktop and mobile clients—the server and Lync Online. The clients will take on the Skype look and feel, while Microsoft aligns the user experience across its consumer and business offerings to the one with which most people are familiar.
The new Skype for Business will be compatible with previous Lync versions—and of course with Skype—and will improve on all of the federation work that Microsoft created over the past year and a half. The search capabilities now take advantage of Bing technology so that you can very quickly find people in the Skype user directory as well as your own corporate Lync directory. And if you’re currently using Lync Server, you can upgrade in place from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server to gain the new functionality on the backend. From a usage perspective, this means a Skype-like application in both desktop and mobile forms, with familiar Skype buttons for calling, using audio and video, etc. Lync will gain the Skype call monitor window, providing the ability to access call features even when you’re using other applications. While none of these changes are too surprising, the important thing to remember is that no Lync functionality is sacrificed by the upgrade.
Don’t let the name change be of overwhelming concern. The coming Lync versions are indeed updates to Lync, offering all the functionality you’ve learned to expect. “Skype is used by over 300 million people every month,” Lync product marketing general manager Giovanni Mezgec said during a recent briefing. “We are betting on the Skype brand with its global reach and providing a product that is truly the best of both worlds, with the Skype user experience and Lync underpinnings.”
While the transition will take place in the first half of 2015, it has not quite been determined exaclty how it will happen. Lync is part of all but the most basic enterprise and government Office 365 plans, and Skype for Business will presumably be a direct replacement. In the case that customers choose to access Skype for Business via Office 365 rather than the Skype for Business Server, Microsoft said, Microsoft will handle all the updates and no new hardware will be required.
As enterprise and personal lives converged, it has made less and less sense to develop and support two essentially competing products. At this point, there don’t seem to be any predicted casualties of the transition, but it may be worth keeping an eye on things as the Skype for Business debuts this year.
You can find references to this information, as well as more details at the following locations:
You can also learn more about Lync Server 2013 in the following courses scheduled at LRS Education Services:
Microsoft course 20336: Core Solutions of Microsoft Lync Server 2013
Microsoft course 20337: Enterprise Voice and Online Services with Microsoft Lync Server 2013
Please let us know if you have any questions or if you would like more information regarding Lync Server 2013 courses scheduled at LRS Education Services.
Penny Morgan MCT, MCSA, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCP
LRS Education Services GetSmart@lrs.com (877) 832-0678 x1493 toll free