Microsoft is upgrading its Lync unified communication platform to look and feel more like the familiar consumer version of Skype and changing its name to Skype for Business.
By the middle of next year the company will drop the name Lync from its unified communication platform altogether and use the name of the better known consumer platform that Microsoft bought in 2011 for $8.5 billion.
Blending the two, which has been ongoing since the purchase, is intended to give business users of Skype an interface they are more familiar with and thereby making transition to the platform smoother for corporate customers, says Giovanni Mezgec, Microsoft's general manager for Lync product marketing. "Users will know what to do better than before," he says.
He says it also represents a bet on the Skype brand, which established itself globally before Microsoft bought the company.
In addition to a new client interface the upgrade includes a new server with some new features including a more efficient H.264 codec for better voice and video on low bandwidth connections. It features better security and always-visible call monitoring during calls, a feature Skype had but not Lync. Skype for Business has better resilience and faster failover than Lync.
Features such as full screen and recording are available using fewer clicks or touches. The interface as a whole has been redesigned to be more touch friendly with bigger icons that are easier to hit accurately with a fingertip.
Skype for Business supports interoperability with Cisco/Tandberg unified communications products.
Upgrading the server should be simple, Mezgec says, and shouldn't require new hardware.
IT pros can determine whether the new client uses the new interface or the more traditional one in order to better plan rollouts.