Microsoft has announced the next version of Lync will be known as Skype for Business. Available in the first half of 2015, it will have new client experience, server release and updates for the Office365 service.
"We’re really excited about how Skype for Business takes advantage of the strengths of both Skype and Lync," says Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president, Skype.
It is said Skype for Business will showcase the familiar experience of Skype and the enterprise security, compliance and control of Lync.
In order to make the interface similar to Skype, Microsoft is changing various elements including the addition of ‘icons’ for calling, adding video and enabling a call.
There will also be a ‘call monitor’ window, similar to that used in Skype, so the call remains visible in a smaller window when users are also focusing on another application.
Some existing elements of Lync have been updated, including content sharing and telephony.
Currently, small to medium companies in New Zealand use Lync for voice, video and conferencing, and there are more than 900,000 Skype users in this country alone. Globally, there are more than 350 million users on Skype.
Microsoft says they will see fast adoption of Skype for Business as the familiarity of Skype will lead to faster adoption, less training and fewer calls to the helpdesk.
In New Zealand, Microsoft Lync specialist UCFX is seeing a lot of interest in the Lync and Skype Video integration.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest from existing Lync customers looking at the service offerings they can deliver via a Lync and Skype video call, versus their traditional bricks and mortar branches/outlets,” says Brent Colbert, director, UCFX .
No new hardware is required for upgrades to Skype for Business and current Lync Server customers will get the new features next year when they upgrade from Lync Client 2013 and Lync Server 2013 to Skype for Business.