Microsoft to deliver Lync-Skype integration in June

Microsoft will demonstrate on Tuesday for the first time an integration between its Lync enterprise IM, audio and video conferencing server and its Skype consumer counterpart, the latest Microsoft response to the consumerization of IT trend.

At its Lync Conference in San Diego, Microsoft officials will show the ability for Lync and Skype users to contact each other, launch IM text sessions and communicate via audio calls.

Microsoft plans to deliver that capability to Lync and Skype users in June, with a similar video-conferencing integration feature coming later.

Microsoft Lync already ties into the Office suite. How will it work with Skype?

The effort to integrate Lync and Skype flows out of Microsoft's strategy to fuse the barriers between home and work, said Giovanni Mezgec, general manager of enterprise product marketing for the Skype division at Microsoft.

"Communication experiences are very personal human expressions and we know we can provide a platform that delivers from the living room to the board room," he said.

Microsoft is also announcing an initiative called Lync Room System designed to push the Lync server software into conference rooms with outdated and insufficient voice and video capabilities.

For the Lync Room System project, Microsoft is partnering with hardware providers Crestron, Lifesize, Polycom and Smart Technologies, each of which would take the lead in pursuing sales opportunities.

Microsoft also plans to release next month Windows Phone 8 and iOS mobile applications for Lync 2013, and for Android in April. The applications will allow users to do voice-over-IP and video-over-IP communications. In addition, iPad users will be able to view shared desktop and application content in Lync meetings.

In the next 18 months, Microsoft will add enterprise voice capabilities and Web meetings to Lync Online, the version of the product that is cloud-hosted in Microsoft data centers. A new version of the on-premises server is slated for the second quarter of next year.

Microsoft has now sold 5 million enterprise voice Lync seats. The product is in use at 90 of the Fortune 100 companies, and the partner roster has hit 1,000.

With its Lync product, Microsoft competes primarily against Cisco's WebEx online meetings and voice and video-conferencing product and TelePresence tools. Other players in this segment of the enterprise-collaboration market include IBM and Google.

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