From rumor to reality, Microsoft finally unveils the brand for its upcoming enterprise communications server: Lync (“link” and “sync”). Never before has a number “14” garnered such great interest from techies everywhere — they’re usually fascinated by “42.”
The OCSTeam (soon to be renamed LyncTeam?) must be very proud, barely able to contain the excitement:
Now about the release candidate. With nearly 20,000 people inside Microsoft and more than 100 enterprise customers already using the Lync 2010 beta, the R&D team is on track to deliver the product to market before the end of the year. I’ve been using Lync 2010 for about six months now, both in conjunction with a beta IP phone from Polycom, as well as via my laptop on its own (primarily when I’m traveling or at home).
Glad to know that there are thousands of people testing this baby to get it ready by the end of 2010. But please, take your time to test the darn thing. We can get used to the BSoD on our PCs while working on a spreadsheet or playing Solitaire, but to get “blue screened” while talking or video conferencing — that’ll really piss off people. Still, kudos to the companies that’d decided to take the plunge first for the benefit of all mankind, according to Forrester’s Henry Dewing:
Deployment stories from customers like A.T. Kearney, Intel, Shell, and Sprint provide a rosy picture of Microsoft’s scalability and reliability, but many customers still want more proof and want interoperability with their existing network investments (check out my September 10 report, “Jump-Starting The Unified Communications Market”). Microsoft has been instrumental in establishing the Unified Communication Interoperability Forum, which provides a forum to discuss, design, and develop strategies to allow smooth, open, and reliable interoperability between various UC&C solutions, including the Microsoft Lync Server.
The Redmond Giant is also quick to announce a boatload of partners prepared to live in harmony with Lync. Keep in mind that this is still a release candidate, which some would even call “vapor” at this point in time and question the actual general availability timeline:
As exciting as the name changes are, it should be noted that the released version of the Lync family is still vapor and there is no announced date as to its public release (thus the Missing Lync). The “2010” moniker in some of the names is a strong hint its coming this year. Added credibility comes from the fact Microsoft made available what they call a “Release Candidate” server version. After the Release Candidate will be RTM version (release to manufacturing) and then eventually public availability. The RTM date has not be set either.
In the case of Windows 7 there was about 2.5 months between RTM and public availability. I’m sure Microsoft is rushing to get Lync out for the holiday season (a perfect stocking stuffer). But it probably won’t be out in time to IM Santa what you really want.
Lync is not a consumer product after all, so there’s no need for Microsoft to push its release before the holiday season. Products like Kinect, Windows 7, and Windows Phone 7 are the ones the company will make sure to be stocked on store shelves (physical and virtual) before the holidays. However, Microsoft has a chance here to deliver a severe blow to its competitors if it’s able to demonstrate a seamless integration between WinPhone 7 and Lync. I have no doubt that Lync could dominate the UC&C market in a few years simply because of Microsoft’s reach into the enterprise. It could really leverage that market penetration to sell smartphones running on Phone 7 by creating a memorable mobile UC user experience. Now that would surely dampen the holiday spirits of Apple and Cisco…
The official press release link to Lync:
REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 13, 2010 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the release candidate of Microsoft Lync, the next generation of Microsoft’s unified communications software that enables people to connect in new ways, anytime, anywhere. Lync is the new family brand for the products formerly known as Communications Server, Communications Online and Communicator, and it also now includes Lync Web App, and Lync Online. The release candidates of Lync 2010 and Lync Server 2010 are now available for businesses of all sizes to try for free. They can be downloaded at http://technet.microsoft.com/evalcenter/ff808407.aspx. This broad release candidate is the last step toward release to manufacturing and general availability scheduled for later this year.
“Over the past five years we have been on a journey to transform communications with the power of software,” said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Unified Communications at Microsoft. “Lync delivers on this vision by unifying enterprise voice, instant messaging and web-, audio- and videoconferencing into a new, connected communications experience.”
Microsoft Lync can make every engagement a virtual face-to-face meeting, because any interaction can include video and audio conferencing, application and desktop sharing, instant messaging, and telephony. Lync has been designed from the ground up to work with Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Exchange, which helps reduce end-user adoption hurdles and increase return on investment. People can also stay connected to others on a wide range of devices while away from the office and manage their communications and calls in new ways, such as easily moving a call from a PC to a mobile device while leaving the office without disrupting the conversation.
More than 120 enterprise customers and partners are enrolled in the Microsoft Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for Lync, testing early releases and providing feedback, and over 400 unified communications partners are involved in readiness activities, preparing for general availability of the software later this year.
In addition, today more than 30 partners announced beta versions of their Lync-compatible hardware, software and service products. Hardware products include a variety of Internet protocol phones and USB endpoints optimized for Lync. Software solutions include contact centers, call recording, accounting and new applications that incorporate communications right within business processes. Routing services work with Lync to allow companies to meet United States E-911 requirements for all U.S.-based workers, regardless of location.
Microsoft Lync is on schedule to become generally available in 2010. In addition, Microsoft will share more about Lync Online, which will give customers the added option of a hosted solution, in the coming months.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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