Lync Conference: Skype Integration, Market Gains
Microsoft shows off progress on Skype and on customer adoption for Lync voice.
Probably the biggest news out of the first day of the Microsoft Lync conference in San Diego yesterday was the company's announcement that integration of Lync and Skype would be available by June, as part of the feature set for Lync 2013. (That and the fact that Microsoft says it has 5 million users on Lync voice.)
The initial Lync-Skype integration will deliver IM, presence status and voice, with video integration on the roadmap for the next 12-18 months.
Lync Coporate VP Derek Burney (who'll be keynoting at Enterprise Connect next month), demonstrated the Lync integration and held what he said was the first-ever Skype-to-Lync federated voice call with Tony Bates, president of the Skype division of Microsoft, who'd opened the session and was calling from somewhere offstage.
The integration looked smooth in Burney's demo. In the Lync client, the Skype contacts look exactly the same as the Lync contacts, with the addition of a line that says "Skype" underneath their name. The same is true in the Skype client--Lync contacts have the Skype look and feel with just the addition of the word "Lync" underneath the name.
The keynote sessions emphasized Lync for mobility--Derek Burney started out, not surprisingly, by demoing Lync 2013 on a Windows Phone, then showed it on Android, iPhone, and iPad. Only near the end of the demos did he switch to a (touch-screen) laptop format.
Burney also demonstrated Lync on a room system, with a large display with touch-screen capabilities for video control as well as touch-whiteboarding (provided by Microsoft partner Smart Technologies).
In a subsequent interview I had with Giovanni Mezgec, GM for Lync, it became clear that the Skype integration is about reaching out and adding hundreds of millions of potential contacts for Lync users to communicate directly with--but it's also about presenting the integrated systems as more than just a B2C or inter-entrprise communications tool.
Bates in his speech and Mezgec in our interview both stressed the idea that the integrated Lync-Skype is about serving workers as they shift roles throughout the day, between work and personal lives, mobile and stationary. Mezgec related it to three tightly interconnected trends: Proliferation of devices; consumerization of IT; and blending of work life and personal life.
"It's actually a design philosophy."he said of the Lync-Skype integration.
Mezgec also said Microsoft will welcome WebRTC-related technologies, and that "we love what we see" from the early efforts to voice/video-enable Web browsers. "We clearly see the need of making the Web a client for our technology," he said.
Microsoft has proposed an alternative to the WebRTC standard that the other major players in the issue have embraced, and it's currently uncertain how this gap may be bridged. The details of WebRTC standardization are out of Mezgec's bailiwick, and when I asked him if he thought successful WebRTC standardization and development would affect Skype's dominance of Web voice/video, he said simply, "I don't know," adding, "It's way to early to tell."