We interrupt this “20 Tasks” series to bring you an important question!
As you may have seen by now, Microsoft just announced that it’s buying Skype.
Skype is a fun platform. Hundreds of millions of people use it around the world to communicate, well, around the world. Even though it hasn’t been very profitable, Skype has huge value to it. (Which is, I’m sure, why Microsoft paid so darn much!)
Speculation about what Microsoft plans to do with this gigantic new acquisition is already raging. What will happen to Skype? Was this just to keep Google from buying it? Will users have to switch to a Microsoft “version”? And so on.
But my big question on this would be: How will the acquisition of Skype affect Lync Server?
Skype and Lync Server: Butting Heads? Working Side-by-Side?
According to the press release:
“Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms.”
Statements like that are pretty broad. Let me puzzle through some more specific ideas.
One, Microsoft could use Skype as its everything-Lync-doesn’t solution. The quote above talks about using it with Kinect and Windows Phone. In this case it isn’t likely to hurt or help Lync (which is okay!). It’ll just expand on the existing consumer audience.
Two, they could use Skype in a push for more Microsoft communication devices. Encouraging manufacturers to create more VoIP phones, headsets, etc. This might benefit Lync, since there would be more compatible hardware on the market.
Three, they could use Skype as an entry-level VoIP & video chat client for Lync Server. This is just a hop skip & a jump above the current Lync 2010 client tools. Plus it gives businesses already using Skype a chance to connect with Lync users, and vice versa. Instant tools expansion.
Four, all of the above! With all the capabilities Skype has, it could easily cover all of these. Ballmer even hinted at this in the press conference.
Are You Sure This Will Work?
It’s not all smiling faces though. There are some potential snafus with Microsoft/Skype.
For one thing, Skype tech isn’t perfect. It uses a peer-to-peer protocol that needs updating. Microsoft could do this, and integrate Skype at the same time. But the platform that comes out of it may not BE Skype in the end.
There’s also the question of Skype for Mac and Linux. Will they be maintained? More specifically, will they be maintained at the same pace as the Windows client? If not, it wouldn’t be the first time. I’m hoping that since Skype will be its own division, that won’t happen here.
Lync’s in a Better Position Now
Skype already has a big market with consumers and business users. If anything, it’s a boon to Lync Server. Think about it – the world’s most well-known VoIP service now lives next to Lync Server’s full communications suite. Skype is bound to draw attention (and customers) Lync’s way.
Thoughts? Any bets on where this will head?