Microsoft is ditching its Lync unified comms brand, renames it Skype for Business

11 Nov 2014

Software giant Microsoft is rebranding its Lync unified communications platform ‘Skype for Business’ and plans to bundle it as part of Office 365 early next year.

The move comes hot on the heels of a momentous decision to make Microsoft Office apps like Word, PowerPoint and Excel available for free on iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.

Microsoft corporate vice president Gurdeep Pall explained in the official Microsoft Garage and Updates blog that Microsoft will be blending the features that consumers all over the world love about Skype with the enterprise security, compliance and control business users have come to expect from Lync.

Skype, which Microsoft acquired for US$8.5bn in 2011, has more than 36pc of the world’s international calling traffic according to TeleGeography, logging a staggering 214bn minutes of calls in 2013.

“A decade ago, Skype broke down the distance barrier by bringing people together from all over the world. It forever changed the way people shared their lives by getting friends and family together to celebrate special moments and create extraordinary bonds.

“Today, Skype is so much more. It’s used by more than 300 million people for messaging, calling and sharing. It lets people and groups connect in more spontaneous ways across multiple platforms to have fun and get things done. From desktop, to mobile to TV, it’s for communicating throughout the day, every day. Skype is a universal symbol of togetherness.”

In that time Pall said Microsoft has also worked to make unified communications part of the collaborative workflow worldwide.

The sound and vision for collaboration

“We made Lync a core part of Office to make it easy for people to connect with others to get work done. Lync means the freedom to work anywhere. It’s like tapping someone on the shoulder to say ‘let’s chat’ no matter where you are in the world.

“Colleagues meet together and make decisions in an instant and IT Professionals rest easy knowing their end-users are supported by a secure platform for that they manage and control. Today, thousands of organisations, large and small, count on Lync for voice, video and conferencing.”

He said that in the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365.

“We believe that Skype for Business will again transform the way people communicate by giving organisations reach to hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business.”

Skype for Business will add video calling and the Skype user directory making it possible to call any Skype user on any device.

Current Lync Server customers will be able to get the new capabilities by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their data centres with no new hardware involved.

Skype for Business will be automatically added and updated for existing Office 365 customers.

“And because communications is mission-critical, this release meets a new bar for reliability and performance,” Pall said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years