What You Need to Know About the New Lync and Skype Integration

Audio calls and instant messaging are officially integrated between Lync and Skype, but no video connectivity yet. Here are some key points for users and IT admins about the new Lync-Skype connection.

Skype and Lync can stop flirting and come out as officially … integrated. Not fully integrated mind you, but integrated.

The two unified communications platforms may seem redundant from a distance, but Microsoft is working to merge them so that compatibility is seamless, and it's about people – business users or consumers -- communicating unencumbered by technology walls.

It's worth noting that today's announcement is only phase one of Skype-Lync integration. Users of the two services are now able to:

  • Add Skype contacts to Lync and vice-versa, enabling presence sharing.
  • Initiate audio calls and instant messaging between Lync and Skype users.

As for video connectivity, you will have to wait and see.

According to a Skype company post about Lync-Skype integration: "Over time, we will add more capabilities, with video calling as our next priority."

Skype and Lync

Veteran Microsoft Watcher and ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley cites in a recent post that Microsoft officials have said that video connectivity between Skype and Lync isn't coming until mid-2014. Skype CEO Tony Bates wrote back in February that Lync and Skype video interoperability could be expected "in the next 18 months."

In a separate blog post from the Microsoft Lync team, product marketing director BJ Haberkorn praises the one-two punch of Lync and Skype, extolling Lync for having five million enterprise users and being used by 90 of the Fortune Global 100. Skype, meanwhile, is now being used by 300 million people, according to Microsoft. Opening up accessibility between the two platforms, at least for IM and audio calls so far, certainly expands the reach of both.

Other key points about the Skype-Lync integration news:

  • Skype users must sign in to Skype with a Microsoft account (formerly Windows Live ID) to communicate with their Lync contacts. You can merge your existing Skype account with your Microsoft account for single sign-on across a variety of applications and services.
  • Skype users will need the latest Skype client available from Skype.com. Currently, Lync-Skype connectivity is supported from the Windows and Mac desktop clients with more options coming soon as other clients are updated, according to Microsoft.
  • For IT folks: To connect your Lync business users with Skype users, Lync administrators first must enable Lync-Skype connectivity. Information on how to do this can be found here for Lync Server. For Lync Online, connectivity can be turned on from the Lync admin center within the Office 365 portal. If you already have Windows Live Messenger federation working, no additional steps are necessary to turn on Lync-Skype connectivity.
  • Lync users can connect to Skype from Lync 2010 or Lync 2013, including any of the 2013 mobile clients.
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