Microsoft's Lync Online: What's coming when

Summary:At the Microsoft TechEd 2011 show, company officials got more granular about what users should expect when, in terms of Lync Online features and functionality.

Microsoft will be launching the Microsoft-hosted version of its Lync unified-communications server, known as Lync Online, alongside the rest of Office 365 this summer. At the Microsoft TechEd 2011 show, company officials got more granular about  what users should expect when, in terms of Lync Online features and functionality.

Lync is the successor to Microsoft's Online Communications Server product. The on-premises version of Lync includes enterprise instant messaging, audio and video conferencing, support for presence and voice-over-IP (VOIP). (Yes, it does what Skype does -- and a lot more.)

Microsoft has been touting the souped-up VOIP capabilities of Lync Server, such as its integration with e-mail, calendaring, IM and conferencing, calling that integrated functionality "enterprise voice." Microsoft will be launching the Microsoft-hosted version of Lync as part of Office 365 -- the successor to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). Office 365 is Microsoft's Google Apps competitor, consisting of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online -- slated to launch in early June, last I heard.

At TechEd this week, Microsoft execs said there will be a Windows Phone 7 Lync mobile client available around the time that Microsoft's "Mango" Windows Phone operating system update hits, which many of us Microsoft watchers are expecting to be later this fall. That client will offer business instant-messaging and presence support. But Microsoft officials are not promising -- at least not at this point -- that it will offer audio/video conferencing or enterprise voice.

Microsoft execs also conceded at TechEd that Lync Online will not support voice until some time after Office 365 launches. And enterprise voice? "Not supported" with no timeframe as to when/if it ever will be, according to this slide from a Microsoft presentation during the conference:

(click on slide above to enlarge)

So what can Lync Online users expect, functionality-wise, once voice support is added to the service? According to this slide:

(click on slide above to enlarge)

Microsoft execs are saying users will be able to make/receive calls to any number, set incoming calls to ring on one's mobile number and more.

Microsoft isn't yet talking about if/when/how Skype will be integrated with Lync, Lync Online, Windows Phone, Windows Live Messenger or any of its other products. Execs have said that Microsoft will have more to say, roadmap-wise, once its Skype acquisition secures regulatory clearance.

Topics: Browser, Collaboration, Microsoft, Networking, Operating Systems, Social Enterprise, Software, Telcos, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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