What is Microsoft Lync?

By Lisa Gecko

Microsoft Lync 2010 is the latest cross platform real-time instant messaging client that offers several features and improvements over the previous incarnation, Microsoft Office Communicator. In short, Lync provides messaging and presence, voice, and conferencing workloads for the era of Unified Communications. Support for the mobile workforce, which is of paramount importance in the current corporate landscape, is provided across remote and mobile communications devices with no virtual private network (VPN) required. Lync is also extremely customizable, allowing companies to tailor the power of Lync to very specific needs.

With the addition of multi-client software collaboration, which includes everything from your traditional Microsoft applications such as Power Point and Word, to whiteboard documents and polling lists to name a few, the benefits become clear for businesses that need to communicate seamlessly across a wide variety of applications, both internally and externally. Microsoft Lync 2010 is also able to provide rich audio and high-definition video. Instances of dropped signals are almost non-existent unlike internet communications predecessors. Lync’s Call Administration Control handles bandwidth parameters with ease, and can also be customized for optimal efficiency.

Collaborations across any of the multiple applications supported are automatically defined as conferences, and with the well-designed interface it is simple to add attendees, promote participants, launch new applications, and invoke other key new features all with a simple click. Also, the interface will be familiar to anyone that uses Microsoft products. This is of course a significant draw for corporations that have a large number of less tech-savvy employees that would really benefit from Lync’s many improvements in real-time instant messaging communications.

From the server side, the Enterprise and Plus Editions should be of interest to mid-sized and larger companies for a variety of reasons. One being that deployment is significantly easier with the new Lync Server 2010 planning tool. This was a time consuming process with the Office Communications Server. Even with the myriad of new features available, the ability to export deployment design to a configuration file streamlines the process.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype can only improve Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology within Lync. When it comes to competing in or controlling the enterprise Unified Communications market, this was a bold move. Microsoft Lync’s goal to become a complete private branch exchange (PBX) replacement is a welcome breath of fresh air for many businesses struggling with the costs and difficulties of managing the relatively labor-intensive VoIP PBX systems. With the addition of Skype’s VoIP technologies, Microsoft has put in place one of the pieces for Lync to match up better than any competitor across the board.

So what is Microsoft Lync? Right now it is a vast improvement over its previous version, Microsoft Office Communicator. Lync is a unified experience across all communications including instant messaging, mobile devices, phone, rich audio, high-definition video and conferencing. Communicating within oft-used applications is a new addition, and the ability to make connections with the new rich presence features is impressive. The complete enterprise voice features are equally impressive. The ability for businesses to be able to work and communicate from anywhere in the world, with ease and familiarity, is the end game. What will Microsoft Lync become? To truly replace PBX infrastructure is no simple feat. With the acquisition of Skype, Microsoft has a good chance of accomplishing this. Also the familiarity with Microsoft, particularly the way the software looks on the screen, will always be a draw for businesses wary of drastic change.