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Lync 2013 Now Supported on Windows Server 2012 R2

Microsoft indicated this month that Lync Server 2013 is now supported on Windows Server 2012 R2.

Support is enabled by applying an update that was released this month, according to a Microsoft blog, posted late last week. However, the update, as described by Microsoft's Knowledge Base article 2809243, omits mentioning the new server support. It just describes 13 fixes to Lync Server 2013.

Lync Server 2013, which is Microsoft's unified communications solution, hit release-to-manufacturing status in October of last year, with Microsoft indicating that general availability release was planned for the first quarter of 2013. However, the general availability of the product actually happened shortly after the RTM release, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, via e-mail.

Lync Server emerged from Microsoft's earlier Office Communications Server product back in 2007. The idea back then was to offer "more capabilities at lower cost than PBX systems," according to B.J. Haberkorn, director of Lync product marketing for Microsoft, in a blog post. Since then, it's been a slow path toward that PBX rip-and-replace vision, but Microsoft has been making some inroads. Last month, Kevin Turner, Microsoft's chief operating office, said that Lync is used by 90 of the Fortune 100 companies. In addition, Microsoft's fiscal-year 2014 Q1 financial report indicated that Lync sales grew "30 percent."

Microsoft's Lync Server and Lync Online products have slowly evolved. Most of the functionality is found on the server side. For instance, "enterprise voice," Microsoft's term for voice-over-IP telephony, requires support from a communications provider when using Microsoft's hosted Lync Online service. In the earlier part of this year, Microsoft had just one communications provider, Jahjah, signed on to enable enterprise voice through Lync Online, although the company suggested that additional carrier support would grow, according to a February interview with Haberkorn. Hosted Lync support is currently offered through a few carrier partners, according to the Microsoft spokesperson.

"Partners, including AT&T, BT and Verizon, are hosting Lync on their IP networks, offering businesses access to a complete hosted UC solution that is able to meet their performance, reliability and security needs," the spokesperson indicated via e-mail.

Enterprise Interest
A July study published by the T3IGroup (PDF) suggests that interest in using Lync among enterprises has been increasing. The study surveyed more than 300 IT and business leaders to gauge organizational interest in deploying Lync compared with a similar survey conducted a year ago. It found that 41 percent of U.S. enterprises with more than 500 employees had either conducted trials of Lync or had completed trials. That finding was up from the 28 percent saying so last year.

The T3IGroup study found high interest in deploying enterprise voice with Lync, with 76 percent of enterprise respondents indicating that they had either included enterprise voice in their Lync trials or planned to do so. That figure was up 10 percentage points compared with the survey conducted a year ago. Actual deployment was much lower, with 15 percent of respondents indicating that they had deployed enterprise voice, up from 11 percent saying so in last year's survey.

The study asked participants to identify their preferred IP PBX vendor. Oddly, Microsoft (which makes PBX replacement software) was listed as the third choice among the enterprise respondents, behind Cisco and Avaya.

Future Plans
Microsoft's future plans for Lync Server include a new version of the product, which is expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2014. The company also plans to add "enterprise voice" support to Lync Online sometime in the summer of 2014, according to past statements by Tony Bates, president of the Skype Division at Microsoft.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it had updated its Lync client apps for Windows Phone, as well as the Apple iPhone and iPad. This third client update makes it easier to join a Lync meeting for those users lacking a Lync account. It also facilitates setting up quick meetings with multiple participants from a mobile device. Specifically, Microsoft added the ability to enable Windows Phone and iOS users to connect without using Active Directory via certificates (or "passive authentication"), according to a Microsoft blog post explanation. Microsoft had earlier announced some Lync 2013 desktop client app updates back in July that included a few functional improvements.

Last month, Microsoft achieved government-grade accreditation for voice, video, and instant messaging and presence for Lync 2013. Microsoft worked with its partner Dell to achieve Joint Interoperability Testing Center certification for a U.S. Department of Defense implementation.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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