Microsoft Lync Gets New Mobile Apps and Ability to Talk to Skype Users

While the average consumer might not know a whole lot about Microsoft Lync, it is an important enterprise communications platform, even if it doesn’t get a lot of hype. In fact, Lync is used by 90 out of the Fortune 100 companies, so it clearly has a strong track record that includes over 1000 partners and 5 million subscriptions.

Still, it is about time that Lync received a few new features and abilities to help re-energize the platform, despite the fact it has a strong enterprise presence. One of the ways Microsoft intends to do this is by offering an easy way for Lync users to call Skype users, and vice versa.

The new communication feature is expected to go live in June. The idea here is to enable what Microsoft’s Tony Bates calls “B2X’. B2X is about focusing business communication on enabling human interactions and putting people first by offering a unified communcation system.

The overall vision for Lync, according to Bates, is to “rehumanize communications” from the “living room to the boardroom.” This is a unique approach allows Microsoft to be the only company that offers a communications system that is usable in the office or when you need to communicate from home, or anywhere really.

You have to wonder if the new Skype/Lync dual-communication will help win over any new clients specifically due to the interoperability. I wouldn’t personally be surprised, since that’s just one of the features that makes Lync unique compared to the competition.

Part of the reason for this change also comes because Skype’s P2P architecture has been changed significantly in recent times, thanks to the integration of Live Messenger into Skype. Now that Skype isn’t fully P2P based, it is easier to make it play nicely with services like Lync as well.

Lync Mobile Apps and Lync Room Systems Also Announced

That’s not the only changes coming to Lync though. Microsoft has now announced a new suite of Lync 2013 mobile apps that will work with Windows Phone 8, iOS and Android. The Windows Phone and iOS versions will launch first in March, with the Android version expected around April.

So what’s new to the Lync apps? The apps will feature voice and audio chat for one thing, and will also allow iOS users to view shared desktop and application content on their devices.

Last but not least, Microsoft has now announced it is partnering up to create “Lync Room Systems”, thanks to the efforts of Lifesize, Polycom, Creston and SMART. Lync Room Systems are basically conference rooms that will be automatically configured and designed to make it easy to share content on your computer easy.

What do you think of the changes coming Microsoft’s way for their Lync communications platform? Do you work for a company that currently utilizes Lync, if so what do you think of it? For those that use a competing enterprise communication platform, what do you use and why does your company choice it offer Microsoft’s solution?

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