Microsoft shows it understands the consumerization values of Skype

Microsoft shows it understands the consumerization values of Skype

Summary: When it acquired Skype two years ago, we wondered if Microsoft would fully appreciate the consumerization values of the product. This week, it became apparent the company is on the right track.


Sadly, I'm not in San Diego this week to hear Tony Bates' keynote speech in person. (Well, happily, actually, as I'm skiing with family in Vermont -- great snow up North!)

But I do have context on this announcement as I've been analyzing both the consumerization brand, Skype, and the enterprise brand, Lync, for years now. When Microsoft did the Skype deal going on two years ago, I posted on Microsoft's opportunity to bring Skype values to Lync customers and deployments as it has acquired a consumerization brand, a cloud service to sell, and a chance to do B2B communications properly.

At a glance from afar, it looks as if almost two years later, Microsoft under Microsoft Skype president, Bates, has kept its eye on this prize. What I see from Vermont is that Microsoft is in fact:

  • Re-humanizing business communications, a good and much-needed thing. (Okay, I like the phrase re-humanizing. It must stem from having played rock n' roll fulltime in the Police-laden "rehumanize yourself"'80s.) If people can't easily use the tools, then they won't bother. This is the essense of consumerization: people using readily available and affordable technology on their own to get work done. Microsoft appears to be understanding and focusing on the consumerization values of Skype. We'll wait to see the Lync-meets-Skype experience, but it sounds good on paper, anyway.
  • Keeping Skype is still on track to overhaul mobile and consumer video communications.As a Skype customer, I continue to see improvements in the quality, capabilities, and experience of Skype. At my house, we have finally figured out that if we push the Webcam back, our video chat is more like an across-the-table conversation than a crreepy, screen-filling talking head. Skype keeps us connected to family and friends across oceans and time zones. What could be better? 
  • Bringing Skype + Lync together so that CIOs can serve employees with B2B and internal communications. If the new mobile apps for Lync, the new room-based video conferencing, and the  B2B communications works (lots of ifs, I know and do worry about), then Microsoft will have achieved the first step in blending Lync and Skype.

The proof will be in the execution, of course, so it's a bit early for Microsoft or you Lync-loving IT shops to declare victory. But at least in this announcement and at the well-attended Lync conference, Bates and Skype + Lync appear to have finally had their coming out party. Bully for them. Let's all keep Microsoft honest by keeping the bar high for executing smartly.

Topics: Consumerization, Microsoft

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Really?

    Call me when Lync servers will run on Linux. Or when Lync will be fully supported on the iPad, mobile, and other non windows platforms.

    All of which run Webex fine.
    • Jabber isn't that good

      only reason my co went with at over lync is we have cisco phones, really cisco everything in infra.

      Old place I worked used Lync, its miles better.
    • Webexmis horrible

      So enjoy it while the rest of the world is using true collaborative tools like Lync.
  • Microsoft shows it understands the consumerization values of Skype

    Microsoft knew what they were doing with Skype and would not have bought it if they didn't have a plan. I remember all the comments about how this is the death of Skype. Sure doesn't look that way. There will be a big uprising in use of Skype between businesses.
    • Microsoft shows it dosen't understand the consumerization values of Skype

      Loverock you surley know Microsoft plan has to fail for Skype. All we'll ever get is a bunch of open telnet's that we'll all end up having to spend time to compile fixes over and over again. Microsoft has failed with Surface RT and they will fail with Skype as well.
      Over and Out
      • Enough Crap! Go away. You're soiling the place.

        Come back when you grow up and have something lucid and coherent and substantial to contribute.
    • Assuming Microsoft has a great plan for its acquisitions is a stretch

      Look at things like aQuantive. Some of the investments in the cable companies (10 or 15 years ago). The attempt to buy Yahoo. It wouldn't have been that much of a suprise if they had mucked up the Skype acquistion (nor will it be a surprise if it doesn't work out in the long run).

      Mergers and Acquisitions tend to be a crap shoot - some end up being great, others end up like AOL-Time Warner or HP-Just-about-anything.
  • UX Enhancements

    Let's hope this possible synergy between the products will have a positive effect on the Lync UX.
    In its current state (the 2010 clients), it simply is awful.

    The Windows Phone version is barely usable. The Windows 8 ("Modern") one is an unbelievably incomplete product that seem to ignore even the basic navigation rules in "Modern" apps. I am to the point where I suspect summer interns to be the authors of both versions.

    Let's hope the 2013 version will fix this.
  • How will WebRTC change things.

    What will the future hold Skype. With the rise of WebRTC (Microsoft's attempts to stall development backfired), Skype will have to integrate into webpages better. I fear that if they do not adapt Video chat applications will become obsolete.
    • RE: How will WebRTC change things

      WebRTC will be disruptive... when and if it arrives. But the browser makers couldn't even standardize IM. WebRTC is going to be a long bumpy ride.
      • It has arrvied.

        It is fully operational in Chrome and soon to be in Firefox's distribution, much like Web-GL, but unlike Web-GL WebRTC is useful not just a nice feature. Microsoft may never implement WebRTC in IE, but as the past few years have shown, users will find ways to use it (Especially once it has fully moved to mobile device).
        • Just a question

          But isn't this what people were so upset about MS with in IE6 and earlier? The behavior of adding non-standard features to the browsers that is. I think this is a good thing, but why the double standards? A lot of the features in IE6 and earlier that people complained about were to expand on the capabilities that were outlined in standards. This is no different.

          But it's Google, and they can "Do no Evil", right?
        • RE: It has arrvied.

          It has arrived as proof-of-concept. It is not standardized yet. And the move to mobile is really key. Unfortunately, the one mobile browser that has the usermedia portion, Opera, may drop it in the move to webkit.

          I really hope WebRTC does standardize. We're already using Opera Mobile on our production line to scan barcodes through the camera into our LOB web app.

          And we have to group Apple and Microsoft together in the 'feet dragging' for this spec. In fact, I predict Apple will be the last. They will be forced by developers bringing it in themselves as a native sdks.
          • POC is fine

            But from the other poster it sounds like it's something he's advocating people support for production already. That's decidedly not PoC. So implementing something like this, and recommending developers use it, is exactly the kind of thing MS did. Only perhaps they took it further by pushing those same items even if they weren't agreed upon as standards. I do think a lot of the functionality in JS/HTML5 is because of that, so it wasn't all bad, but Google seems to be the new MS in the browser market as they pick up market share.
          • Scanning Bar Codes

            My WP8 does that and it also scans and translates text!
          • RE: Scanning Bar Codes

            Yes, but WebRTC lets you do it inside of a web page video tag with javascript control.
  • I like skype

    I have family and friends scattered across the globe and skype is the app of choice for stayingbin touch. I have used most of the popular web based conference tools and they get the job done when it comes to sharing basic business project updates but none of them offer the conversational comfort of skype.