So, Skype for Business is Here

Holy rebrand Batman!

By now most people interested in Unified Comms will know that Microsoft Lync Server 2013 is being rebranded Skype for Business. The opinion on this seems less divided over the previous rebranding from Office Communications Server to Microsoft Lync. I remember a lot of the responses around Lync were ‘Eh? Link? Lync? What?’ and some general confusion!

Seemed to take well enough though.

Being in the industry most of the people I’ve spoken to in the past seemed to be accepting of the fact that at some point Lync would be re-branded under the Skype banner. It makes sense, right? When I get asked what I do for example by people who aren’t familiar with Lync, I’ll find myself sayings ‘It’s like Skype, but for businesses’. Slam dunk.

What’s interesting of course is that Skype - the consumer platform - also had a
business offering! You know, people used, and use, the consumer Skype for business. I know I do - all the time. That confusion could take a while to bottom out so people are clear on what’s being referred to.

The Skype for Business offering is in reality a rebranding of Microsoft Lync 2013, with few additional features. Of course it isn’t released
quite yet so maybe they’ve some ‘one more things’ to keep us all guessing? The Video Interop Server is new - allowing connectivity to legacy Tandberg video systems. Also of course the client is new - it’s far more modern, and hey, it looks like Skype.

There’s some fixes to deliver consistency - for example conversation history is now a back-end function rather than a client one, so you get conversation history consistently across your devices. That should stop some user confusion, one that constantly comes up.

With the rebranding I think you also need to take in to consideration the road-map for Office365. PSTN breakout (note, not Enterprise Voice necessarily), will come to Office365. Enterprise Voice will come in the future too - a good few years out. Providing Enterprise Voice currently using Skype for Business requires the same hybrid mode with Office365 - I.e. EV users must be in the on-prem platform.

So - Skype for Business. User’s get familiarity. Marketing gets the benefit of a well-known platform. It fits well with the future roadmap for Voice in the Cloud (Sky Phone!) etc.

I think it’s a great move by Microsoft. Simplifying the product set, providing clarity on what the platform does, and securing its future. It’s an exciting time to be in Microsoft Unified Comms, and UC in general!

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