Last week, we had the Lync Conference in Las Vegas. (I was not able to go. Sad.)
One big thing to come out of that conference was news about more cooperation between Lync and Skype.
If you’ve read this blog a while, then you know I like to follow the Lync-Skype integration.
Lync-to-Skype Connectivity is Here. But Don’t Forget the Provisioning! (June 12, 2013)
So this was definitely welcome news. Especially when I read through the changes announced.
What’s Coming: Lync 2013 gets HD Audio, Skype gets video calls peer-to-peer
Essentially, the changes involve an exchange of capabilities. Lync will gain access to Skype’s SILK codec for HD audio. And the Lync Server architecture will allow peer-to-peer media connections – granting Skype more direct access to establish video calls with Lync users.
Simon Bisson has an excellent rundown on this at ZDNet: Lync and Skype together – here’s how it will work
Both Skype and Lync are gaining new protocols too – STUN, TURN and ICE. The big value on this is that both systems will be more friendly to newer mobile devices.
Which side is harder to update – Skype or Lync?
Since Microsoft has control of both Skype and Lync Server, this whole “capabilities exchange” might seem silly. Why don’t they just rewrite one to fit into the other? Or both?
I don’t think that would be smart. In fact, I think Microsoft is taking the smarter road by playing it safe.
Skype is a unique communications system. Built to be consumer-grade, and possessed of a huge worldwide following. Lync is made within the Microsoft architectural standard; popular, but designed as an interconnected system working with other Microsoft platforms.
Merging the two – or even modifying both to seamlessly work together – will take a LOT of programming changes. Introducing those changes one step at a time, allowing users to adapt and measuring the real-world usage, makes the most sense.
Which is exactly what they’re doing.
I suspect it’s actually harder to update Skype, since it has its own protocol structure and prides itself on peer-to-peer communication. Which might be why Microsoft opted to allow peer-to-peer for video calls to Lync users.
Plus, it takes advantage of PIC (Public IM Connectivity), which already exists in Lync Server. Saves time, less hassle.
Where are Skype and Lync going next?
I made four predictions last year, in a January post – Messenger Users Moved to Skype By March. Lync Users are NOT Next.
These new protocol exchanges between Lync and Skype figure into Prediction #4 – “Lync and Skype stay separate, but interoperate.”
Allowing Skype to run video calls peer-to-peer – something it’s already famous for doing – indicates that Microsoft wants to keep the functionality (mostly) as-is. Building Lync connectivity and security around it means the user’s experience is pretty much the same…just better on the backend.
Plus, with the interoperability and friendliness on mobile, we could see #3 coming about in the next couple years too. (That would be “A new Lync-Skype hybrid app replaces both platforms,” by the way.)
Call to Readers! Do you use Skype and Lync for work?
Okay, let me ask you for a little help. I’d like to talk with a reader who uses both Skype and Lync. (Must be at least one of you out there!)
If this is you, and you want to help out, I’d appreciate asking you a couple questions about your experiences between the two systems. You get a link and a spotlight here on the blog, when I write it up!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment on this post.