Lync is Dead, Long Live Skype for Business

November 11, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Today, November 11, 2014, Microsft unveiled a major rebranding of its flagship UC product Lync renaming it to Skype for Business.

On an analyst call, Microsoft argued that, in spite of Lync's growing brand equity in the enterprise UC market, Skype's brand still carries much greater weight among the global user base (emphasizing users versus buyers). It appears that the product behind the new brand will not lose any existing functionality. The big change, besides the brand itself, is in the user interface, which will be more Skype-like and, as Microsoft claims, "much more personal". Eventually, new features and capabilities will be added following the trajectory originally set for Lync.

During Q&A, Microsoft also mentioned that they will not be evolving the Lync Hosters Pack any further due to the tremendous success of Lync Online.

I have mixed feelings about the potential success of Microsoft pushing forward with the Skype brand in the enterprise space. After all, Skype is very popular, but it is also associated with crappy PC telephony, whereas Lync was intended to represent enterprise-grade security and reliability.

It also appears that milennials cherish more interactive (i.e., social) interfaces and some of Microsoft's UC competitors seem to be evolving their UC clients in that direction. I would have expected Microsoft to more closely integrate Yammer with Lync in order to come up with a single pane of glass for business users that allows them to interact in multiple different ways. Why go for a Skype/telephony UI and not a Yammer/social UI?

Also, with Lync Online not yet being a full PBX replacement, what is Microsoft's strategy for the cloud UC space?