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Nov 23 2014

Microsoft Rebrands Lync as “Skype for Business”

Microsoft subsidiary Skype has announced that as from its next version, Lync will become Skype for Business in the first half of 2015, with "a new client experience, a new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365." In effect, the bigger brand Skype will 'play hood' for Microsoft's unified communications platform.

To date, Lync already offers instant messaging and audio calling with Skype users. Skype for Business  will retain established Lync functionalities like telephony and content sharing, but adds Skype's video call and call monitor functions as well as its user directory and icons. At the same time, the Lync Server will be repositioned as Skype for Business Server. Lync Server customers may switch to Skype for Business Server simply by applying one of the updates due next spring. Office 365 customers don't need to do anything, as Microsoft will provide updates in due course.

The decision was made public by Skype's Corporate VP Gurdeep Pall in identical messages to the Skype and Microsoft Office blogs. Pall uses rather flowery language to justify the move, but offers no technical explanation. That's why most observers believe it to be a business decision intended to eliminate the in-house competition between Skype and Lync and strengthen Microsoft's position in the telecommunications market. Apparently the firm hopes that Skype's bigger brand name will help to make the platform more popular among enterprise customers. However, this is also a risky decision, as Microsoft will have to convince enterprises that Skype for Business is as secure as Lync. And given the consumer product's many security issues – most of which were revealed long before the 2013 publication of the NSA files – this may well turn into an uphill battle.


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