Messenger Users Moved to Skype By March. Lync Users are NOT Next.

Lync Server 2013, Microsoft Lync, Unified Communications

Like many of you, I received an announcement from Microsoft yesterday. They’re shuttering Messenger and moving accounts to Skype by March 15.

A few people on Twitter this morning asked the same question I had: “Does this mean Skype will replace Lync?”

First off, no. I don’t think it does. Lync isn’t going anywhere – we have a brand-new version to play with right now! So don’t worry too much. Instead, let’s consider where this move leads.

Merging Messenger’s contacts & functions into Skype suggests finality. It suggests that that’s what they plan to use for consumer-level IM from now on. Which is an overall good thing – easier to support one app across platforms. Especially one like Skype, with its huge user base and wide feature set.

But where does that leave Lync users? Is their app under threat?

Again, not really. If Microsoft follows the streamlining pattern, there are 4 possible courses they could take with Lync and Skype:

1. Skype replaces Lync.

Dumb move. Microsoft won’t do this. It would ruin their Lync base among larger businesses.

2. Lync absorbs Skype.

Possible, but unlikely. And that’s because of the move from Messenger to Skype. It would mean users have to move apps twice!
Microsoft is already having trouble with migrating contacts on THIS move. The comments on this Engadget article testify to it: Microsoft retiring Messenger on March 15th, wants you to use Skype instead – Engadget

3. A new Lync-Skype hybrid app replaces both platforms.

Ideally, a hybrid app would adapt itself to the user (Lync or Skype) and the platform (desktop, mobile, tablet). Technically, this is possible…but in terms of user base, it’s only possible way down the line, around 2016 or later. Right now, the business of streamlining user bases and application platforms won’t allow it.

4. Lync and Skype stay separate, but interoperate.

The most likely course. MS has too much invested in building Lync Server as a business communications platform to abandon its desktop app. This approach also allows Skype to keep growing among consumer-level platforms.
I’m supported here by “Lync Bridge“, my name for the coming Lync app for Windows 8 and Windows RT.
It will federate with Skype…but it’s still Lync. And both will work on mobile.

Merging Messenger users into Skype makes more sense than the other way around. Plus it means that Skype will continue to evolve as part of the Microsoft software family.

In the meantime, Lync users have Lync 2013 to play with. And Lync Bridge (Lync for Windows 8/RT) to look forward to.  So let’s not worry ourselves.

Do any of our readers use Skype AND Lync? Please leave a comment or email me. I’d like to ask a couple questions.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Peter J  •  Jan 10, 2013 @5:17 pm

    We”re big users of Lync for IM and we”re currently piloting moving to Enterprise Voice – we also occasionally use Skype, and one of the things we”d really like to do is to leverage Skype”s “local” numbers routed into our Lync system to give us virtual presences overseas – you can do it using virtual Telcos, but Skype Federation would give us local numbers AND direct federation from existing Skype users

  2. chris.williams  •  Jan 11, 2013 @3:01 am

    Peter,

    That”s a very good point. Skype”s local connectivity, especially overseas, enhances the value of federation with Lync. That federation is built into Lync Server 2013 – yet another reason I think the two apps will stay separate.

  3. Carlos C  •  Jan 11, 2013 @5:48 am

    Like Peter, at our company we”re big users of Lync (has saved us countless hours and money on travelling and decision making). We”re piloting Enterprise voice, with great success, and it is definitely replacing a big part of our PBX/Mobile infrastructure. We”re doing it along with Lync 2013 federation with Skype and Messenger, and this is where we”re feeling the most pain: it”s a mess IMHO. Not only it”s not clear what happens with existing accounts (Skype and Messenger) created with our business emails, but the experience is kind of sketchy – calling Lync -> Skype appear anonymous, presence kinda works, no video, WP7 users show up with Messenger AND Lync AND Skype (if they have it), plus other quirks and issues… I sincerely hope all is fixed by March 15th.

  4. Mike  •  Jan 14, 2013 @2:45 am

    We”re pretty heavily invested in Lync and do a considerable amount of teleconferencing with external parties using skype (one on one) and Adobe Connect. The early attempts by OCS/Lync involving the half working web interface and windows-only attendee unfortunately meant that Lync has played almost no part in our conferencing solution beyond providing affordable bridging service to Adobe Connect. I”m keeping my fingers crossed that MS will provide close to feature complete interop between skype and Lync (esp conferencing) as that would significantly improve how we interact w/ external partners.

  5. Frank  •  Jan 14, 2013 @11:16 pm

    Lync bridge to look forward to? You mean this: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-US/app/lync/ba4b9485-8712-41ff-a9ea-6243a3e07682 ? It”s already here…

  6. chris.williams  •  Jan 15, 2013 @12:41 am

    Thanks for the run-down Carlos. Sorry to hear the federation”s not behaving! I”m wondering if there”s a setup issue someplace (the Lync-to-Skype calls appearing anonymous makes me think). I”ll talk with the team, see if anyone”s encountered something like this.

  7. chris.williams  •  Jan 15, 2013 @12:44 am

    Mike,
    Thanks for the comment. Your caution is not unwarranted; this is a huge work-in-progress. I think 2013 will bring some important updates that will improve federation connectivity – new Lync updates, new version of Skype, and so on. Of course I”ll blog developments as I find them!

  8. chris.williams  •  Jan 15, 2013 @12:46 am

    Well hey, look at that! Awesome!
    (They didn”t use my “Lync Bridge” title…kind of sad now.)

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