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Microsoft Now Enabling Lync-to-Skype Connections

Microsoft has completed part of its Lync-to-Skype connectivity integration work.

The company announced today that it's now possible to have audio calls and instant message exchanges between Lync and Skype users. The IM capability was first demonstrated at Microsoft's Lync Conference in February, bringing Lync users in organizations together with consumer Skype users. Users of either application now can add contacts via their respective client applications. Adding the contacts also enables presence capability, allowing users of Lync or Skype to track their contacts' availability.

The new Lync-to-Skype connectivity works with Lync 2010 Server and Lync 2013 Server. The documentation showing how IT pros can set up that connectivity feature with Lync Server can be accessed via this Microsoft download link.

Lync Online users can just turn on the Lync-to-Skype connectivity feature, according to Microsoft's announcement. That's done by using the Lync administration center in the Office 365 portal. If federation for Windows Live Messenger (which Microsoft replaced with Skype) had been set up previously, then Microsoft says that "no additional steps are necessary to enable Lync-Skype connectivity."

On the Skype client side, the new connectivity requires having the latest release of Skype, either for Mac or Windows. Microsoft is promising additional client support in the future. A Microsoft account is also required for Skype users to use this feature. On the Lync client side, the connectivity requires the use of Lync 2013 clients.

For IT pros, the Lync-to-Skype connectivity just means that they manage their Lync installations, using typical tools. They don't have to also manage Skype traffic, according to an explanation by B.J. Haberkorn, director of Lync product marketing. Haberkorn pointed to Active Directory for enabling Lync users. Individual Lync users can set the privacy relationships for their Skype contacts, he explained.

Still missing is the ability to establish video connections between Lync and Skype. Adding that capability will be one the "next" priorities for the company, according to a Skype blog post, although it did not indicate when that would occur.

Back in February, Microsoft promised a number of Lync improvements to come, most of which are expected to arrive next year. For instance, a new version of Lync Server may appear in the second quarter of 2014. The addition of "enterprise voice" capabilities to Lync Online are projected to arrive in the summer of 2014 (the company recently killed off a sidelined "hybrid voice" capability it had been testing). Microsoft also plans to enable Live Meeting users to move to Lync sometime in the summer of 2014.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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