On May 29, Microsoft made available the first phase of its promised integration between its Lync and Skype communications services.
As of today, according to Microsoft, users of the two services can now:
- Add Skype contacts to Lync and vice-versa, enabling presence sharing
- Initiate audio calling and instant messaging between Lync and Skype
Video connectivity between Skype and Lync isn't coming until mid-2014 or so, officials have said.
To enable this integration, Lync administrators first need to enable Lync-Skype connectivity via their Lync Servers or Lync Online/Office 365 via the Lync administration center in the portal. If users already have Lync-Windows Live Messenger federation working, no additional steps are needed to enable Lync-Skype connectivity, according to a May 29 post on the Lync Team Blog.
Lync users can connect to Skype from Lync 2010 or Lync 2013, including any of the 2013 mobile clients. Skype users need to have the latest Skype client for their particular platform, downloadable from Skype.com. Currently, only Windows and Mac desktop clients are supported; the Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Linux and other mobile platforms will be added "soon."
In addition, for the Skype-Lync connectivity to work, Skype users must sign in to Skype with a Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID) to communicate with their Lync contacts.
While today's availability announcement for phase one of the integration comes ahead of the self-imposed June 30 deadline Microsoft set for itself, it's still later than many had expected.
Customers who were testing Microsoft's Lync 2013 last year noted that Skype federation was one of the features of Lync 2013. Microsoft officials also confirmed Skype federation was designed to be part of the Lync 2013 release. But when Lync Server 2013 RTM'd in October 2012, along with the rest of the new Office client/server products, Skype federation seemingly wasn't part of the final product, after all.
Lync is Microsoft's unified communications platform for business users. It includes corporate IM, VOIP and conferencing capabilities. Skype is Micrsosoft's unified communications platform for consumers. Late last year, Microsoft moved the Lync team under the Skype team, so that Lync reported to Tony Bates, the President of Skype. (That said, Lync still reports its financial results as part of the Microsoft Business Division, not the Entertainment & Devices unit, which is where the Skype division reports.)