Jan 23

Lync 2013 and Skype Connectivity – Business and Consumer UC combined

Despite the protest of Cisco at the European Court, Microsoft has integrated Skype with Lync 2013 through a gateway. It is now possible to use the following functionalities between the two environments (Skype for consumers and Lync 2013 for business):

  • instant messaging and presence
  • audio
  • video (on the roadmap)

A whole new paradigma is emerging where now the Unified Communications stack of the business world is merging with the consumer world. So all kinds of B2B and B2C models will arise.

Use Cases

Some use cases I see for the Skype/Lync gateway or had some great input for from others:

  • Family: talking to family when traveling or roaming (reducing mobile roaming cost)
  • Contractors: connecting to 3rd party contractors, not using Lync (improve communications)
  • Business Partners: talking to business partners that use Skype as business communication platform (improve communications)
  • Staffing: Human Resources to talk to potential hires (improve communications, release of video modality would really help here) (credits to Glen Darling)
  • business talking to consumers
    • Banking: this might be for a example a premium channel of helpdesk or a Private Banker to be reached on instant messaging next to the phone.  (improved customer service)
    • an infinite number of examples can be thought and I am interested in receiving use case that might be good example

This new functionality creates al kinds of new possibilities of business models and how business can communicate with consumers and offer better and quicker answers then just a voice helpdesk, email entry etc.

Marketsize Skype

Skype is a phenomenon and is in the category of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple iMessage and FaceTime.

Skype is big in the consumer market and is limited seen in the business market. Skype can be used for:

  • Peer2Peer VOIP
  • multiparty audio en/or video calls
  • Skype Out for outbound access to the PSTN network
  • Skype In where a Direct Inward Dial number can be assigned to your Skype account. So you can be reached on Skype throught the PSTN

Skype is available on multiple devices:

A great blog with some video’s on what’s possible with Skype on the XBOX can be found here: “A new Skype experience in the living room, with Xbox One”.  Since I don’t have a XBOX, i couldn’t test it myself, but understood I it works very well (audio for now, video when supported between Skype and Lync). (thanx Mitchell Weiss for the tip on the XBOX)

Details on a global VOiP report from VisionGain and global landscape can found in this report, where Skype marketshares are discussed.

Since Skype is so big, connecting the business UC product Microsoft Lync 2013 to Skype via a gateway connectivity is a major thing. However since most companies are still on OCS 2007 R2 and Lync 2010 and it takes time to plan and upgrade to the latest release Lync 2013. It is not widely known yet in the market on how and where this functionality is being used. I expect big things for it however.

As mentioned in a previous blog: Lync 2013 – compelling reasons to upgrade, Microsoft has since it has taken over Skype, put Lync in the same business unit. Microsoft has been working on connecting the consumer unified communications world (Skype) together with the business unified communications world (Lync) and made this possible in their Lync 2013 release. Skype will not replace Lync since it’s feature sets are not the same, however to a certain extend overlapping, but Skype is much more limited (but sufficient for consumers)

This page describes the functionality from a Microsoft point of view. Important and that is something users will have to do in advance is to merge their Skype account with their Microsoft account (@hotmaill, @live, @outlook.com). This is needed because your Skype account needs a SIP URI, so externals can find out how to locate each other. It is a shame that such a technical procedure has to occur before Skype users can communicate with Lync users, since it will limit the adoption rate (this is just to difficult for the average user)

Prerequisites are that a Skype receives an URI (Uniform Resource Identifyer). This can be done by creating or use an existing Windows account and merge this with the Skype account. The URI will then be similar to email address of the mail account and the Skype username is connected to it. This will look:

  • personsx@outlook
  • personsx@live.com
  • personsx@hotmail.com

This URI can then be used just like a normal federated Lync user and a user can be added to Lync. When doing this from the Lync point of view, on the Skype side an “approval request” is shown. Once this a approved, two users can start communicating.

So once an account is merged, it is just as easy as Lync to start communicating.

The description on the merge procedure can be found here and is actually very simple, you just need to know in advance.


So what does it look like from both sides. Here you see some screenshot on my MacBook with Lync for the Mac (connected to office environment) and Skype in one picture communicating with each other.

So I hope everyone likes this functionality and hope to hear back how people are using it, please leave your reply in the comments on what you think and potential use cases.

For the upcoming video interoperability. Skype talks in their blog: “Skype’s Pursuit of the Perfect Video Call” about adapting the H.264 codec for optimal use. I wonder if this is the same H.264.SVC (microsoft implementation) as introduced in Lync 2013. From Microsoft perspective it would make sense. Time will tell in the ever dynamic world of unified communications.






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