First off, I want to say thank you to all the new signups, and the people who’ve emailed me with questions! We’ve had a lot of conversations lately. It’s great! Lync Server adoption is growing like crazy (not just on the blog too – we’re getting more & more consulting projects on it).

Today’s post centers on the Skype purchase. Yes, once again. Someone asked about it, honest!

Thing is, they asked me a very poignant question:
“What else do you think is in the cards for Skype at Microsoft? I’m thinking about Windows 8, mostly.”

GOOD question. And from just a little research, I determined that we’re not the only ones who’ve weighed in on it lately.

Skype’s Future at Microsoft: Ars Technica Speculates

Big-name tech news site Ars Technica posted on this the other day. Jon Brodkin speculated on “integration everywhere,” putting everything from Windows Phone to Xbox Live to Windows 8 on Skype’s potential-destination radar.

Jon has some very good points about how easily Skype could be integrated into the Microsoft software base. I think building it into Xbox Live and Windows desktop make a lot of sense. With that in mind, I’ll say this:
Adding Skype as a default option to Windows 8 is the smart play.

Picture this. You install Windows 8 around this time next year, on a dozen tablets for employees. Lync Server is already running on your back-end. The Skype client included in your Windows 8 detects each employee’s Lync credentials, auto-configures…and poof, your employees are able to call anyone.

I mean *anyone.* In the office or around the world. The VoIP in Skype and the Unified Communications in Lync, working together.

Pick up a Windows Phone and you’d have the same connectivity there. Same interface too. Sounds like a good future for Skype, doesn’t it?

Will Skype Grow, Shrink, or Vanish? Web Users Weigh In

That wasn’t the only speculation I came across though. Many Web users have their own questions. And their own concerns.

I’ve copied out a few of them below. And added my own thoughts. Some useful food for thought, for those of us involved in office communications.

“Do we have to use an integrated client?”
I suspect there will be several client options. A “basic” Skype client, Lync 2010 with Skype baked in, a Windows Phone app, etc.

“Skype on Windows Phone 7?”
As one commenter said on the Ars Technica piece, “Microsoft could easily roll its own telephony package.”  With the Skype technology and a Lync backend, they could indeed. That’s a bit more ambitious than I was thinking. It would be a very good pull for Windows Phone though!

“Skype allowed multiple logins before. Will we lose that?”
More than one person was interested in multiple logins. Since a seamless integration – not just with Lync, but also with Windows Phone and Xbox – makes sense, multiple logins is still a safe bet.

“Will Skype disappear into Lync and Windows Live Messenger?”
Unlikely. The Skype contact interface is too well-known to just throw it out. It’s more likely that Windows Live Messenger will take on most of Skype’s interface.
Lync less so, since it has its own interface. That will be more of an in-process integration; certain steps to use Lync may come to resemble Skype.

“Skype’s painfully inefficient. Anything Microsoft does will be an improvement.”
While that seems a little excessive, a lot of user complaints about Skype are that it’s slow. Bloated, memory hog, call it whatever you want.
Will that increase load time for Lync? Or other Windows integrations? Possibly. It IS a disparate code base. One possible method would be to re-develop segments of the code as they’re integrated into separate Microsoft platforms (one for Lync, one for Xbox, one for Windows 7, one for Windows 8…).

Hopefully Microsoft will release some additional plans soon. Now that the merger is approved, they’ll want to avoid wild speculation going on too long.

Since there’s already so much discussion, they’d better hurry!

I hope this sates your curiosity (for now). Next week I’ll discuss a Lync bug we came across in our latest implementation.

Skype Integration: Questions Raised About the Future

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