Microsoft provided an updated roadmap for its Lync unified-communications platform on February 19, the opening day of the company's first Lync Conference in San Diego.
The biggest piece of new news is that Lync-Skype connectivity/federation is coming later than many expected. The first piece of that connectivity --- sharing of presence, instant messaging (IM) and voice across the two services -- will be available to all Lync users as of June 2013. Video connectivity between Skype and Lync isn't coming until some time in the next 18 months, officials confirmed today.
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. As of three months ago, Microsoft moved the Lync team under the Skype team, so that Lync reports up to Tony Bates, the President of Skype. (That said, Lync will continue to report its financial results as part of the Microsoft Business Division, not the Entertainment & Devices unit, which is where the Skype division reports.)
Microsoft officials also unveiled as part of today's updated Lync roadmap:
Microsoft officials also announced at the Lync Conference that a handful of the company's hardware partners are embedding Lync into their next-generation conferencing systems. These new integrated devices will be called "Lync room system" products. Partners who announced initial support include Crestron, Lifesize, Polycom, and SMART.
Microsoft officials said 90 out of the Fortune 100 companies are Lync customers. About 90 percent of Lync deployments are on-premises, not in the cloud, officials said.