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Microsoft readies a Lync app for Android tablets

Microsoft plans to release its Lync unified communications app for Android tablets this summer. It also will deliver federated video across Lync and Skype before the end of 2014.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft plans to release a Lync app for Android tablets this summer, officials will announce during the opening keynote of its Lync Conference 2014on February 18.


During the keynote at the Las Vegas event, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Singh Pall will demonstrate the Lync Android tablet app for the 2,000 conference attendees. A beta of that app will be available to select testers this week, officials said.

Update: During the conference, officials clarified timing of the Lync Android tablet app. Derek Burney, Corporate VP, said it will be in the Google Play store by the end of June 2014.

Lync is Microsoft's unified communications platform for business users. It includes corporate instant messaging, VOIP and conferencing capabilities. Skype is Micrsosoft's unified communications platform for consumers. Microsoft positions Skype as the unified-communications choice for outside the firewall and Lync as the choice for inside the firewall.

In late 2012, Microsoft moved the Lync team under the Skype team. The combined unified communications team is part of Microsoft's Applications and Services division. As of October 2013, Pall has headed up engineering for the Skype/Lync team.

Microsoft already offers Lync apps for Windows Phone, iPhone, Android phones, iPad, Windows and Mac. Officials said Microsoft delivered updates nearly every quarter for all these devices.

Microsoft execs also are expected to demo during the opening conference keynote integration between Lync and Cisco/Tandberg video teleconferencing systems. Microsoft officials have been touting plans to deliver this integration for the past year. Last March, Microsoft officials said Tandberg-Lync videoconferencing integration was about 12 to 18 months away.

Update: During the keynote, Microsoft officials said the next version of Lync Server will include this videoconferencing integration technology. The rumored date for the next wave of Office client and server releases is some time later this calendar year.

Pall also is on tap to announce that Microsoft will begin beta testing its promised Lync-Skype video federation starting in the next couple of months. The final delivery of that video federation capability is slated for some time in the next six to eight months, officials said.

Microsoft execs announced last year the company's two-phase plan for Lync-Skype federation. The audio and instant-messaging components of that federation went live in May 2013. Video federation is just one of several new features that will be part of Lync-Skype V2 federation; others are noted in this NextHop Lync Community blog post, dated February 18.

Lync is officially now in Microsoft's billion-dollar business club in its own right. As of last quarter, Lync was on a $1 billion annual run rate, officials said. (Previously, Microsoft execs had told me that Lync plus Exchange was a $1 billion business, but not Lync itself.)

One more update from the show: Pall also told Lync Conference attendees that support for public switched telephone network (PSTN) phone numbers in Lync Online is coming later this year, as is support for larger meetings (up to a couple thousand people). There was also mention by Burney of a Javascript wrapper around Microsoft's unified communications programming interface, codenamed JLync, which will allow for the integration of "all modalities of communication" more easily.

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