In 2013, we enabled Lync users to contact people on Skype using instant messaging, presence, and audio calling right from your contact list. I’m happy to say that we’ve now taken the next step by adding video calling between Lync 2013 and the latest Skype for Windows desktop client, available for download here. Now Lync users can conduct everyday business and collaboration “face-to-face” with customers, partners and suppliers who use Skype.
The screenshot above shows a video call from the Lync perspective. Whether you’re using Lync or Skype, it’s an easy, familiar experience—you make the video call the same way you make any other call, with the same options for starting, stopping, re-sizing and maximizing video. (As you can see from the picture, Elaine and Sean are pretty excited about the update; Elaine blogged about it on Skype.com.)
The best of both
What’s not obvious from the screenshots is the work we’ve done in the underlying media stack to enable the connectivity. Lync and Skype have always delivered phenomenal voice and video experiences to business and consumer users across a wide range of environments and network conditions. Now, we’re taking the best of both to make both even better.
This includes built-in security, with enterprise class encryption of both media and signaling using TLS and SRTP, enabled by default. It includes connectivity, with standards-based traversal of personal and corporate firewalls using STUN, TURN and ICE. It includes high quality, scalable video using the industry standard H.264 SVC codec. Finally, it includes the SILK audio codec as the default choice for Lync to Skype calls. SILK is used for billions of minutes of audio calls every day, and provides a phenomenal balance between audio quality, bandwidth utilization and power consumption.
The provisioning guide for Lync-Skype connectivity includes instructions for both Lync Online and Lync Server 2013 customers to enable the capability, and the end user guide shows how to add contacts and make calls. The video calling requires an up-to-date Lync 2013 client on either Android, iOS or Windows. It works today with the latest Skype for Windows desktop client only, and requires that the Skype user sign in with their Microsoft account.
As excited as we are about this, we know we have more work to do. We will extend support to the Skype clients on additional platforms, starting with Android and iOS in the coming months. We will add support for SkypeIDs and make it easier to find and add contacts from the worldwide Skype directory, which we’ll do when the next version of Lync becomes Skype for Business in the first half of 2015. These planned improvements to Lync Skype connectivity are just one example of how Skype for Business will keep and improve on all of the capabilities of Lync.
Stay tuned for more updates on Skype for Business, by following our social channels (Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn) and talking your Microsoft sales specialist or partner. We’d also love to see you at one of the worldwide Office 365 Summit events, where, starting in mid-January, we plan to share more details on Skype for Business.