Tag Archives | Microsoft

Lync to Become Skype for Business

Lync will become Skype for Business

Microsoft is rebranding it’s unified communication platform Microsoft Lync. Microsoft plans to retool their approach to unified communications, and launch under the name “Skype for Business” in 2015. Microsoft originally acquired Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011.

The Redmond, WA based software giant made significant strides into the Unified Communications space, offering a cost-competitive unified communications platform which included Telephony, Chat, Collaboration and Video Conferencing all from the desktop, laptop or tablet.

Microsoft made a splash, albeit a light one, last summer in the audiovisual industry when they bought a booth to the InfoComm Tradeshow. It seemed to be the culmination of a few years of product development centered around integrating Lync into the classroom, conference room and board room. Manufacturers from Crestron to Vaddio and Polycom to SMART were all developing peripherals as well as room systems built around the Lync platform. While any talk of Skype at these shows were purely relegated to the consumer space, and a consumer grade of product associated with it.

Poised to make a deeper run in the professional av/uc space, Microsoft’s main purpose in attending the show, it seems, was to gather feedback from customers, and perhaps ideas for future products and platforms. With more and more manufacturers chomping at the bit to get a piece of the Microsoft Lync pie, as Microsoft themselves don’t manufacture hardware solutions, it seemed Lync was going to be influencing the products to be revealed at InfoComm 2015, slated for June 13-19 in Orlando, FL.

There was some debate yesterday, mostly on twitter, about what, if any, impact this announcement will have on the audiovisual industry. In short, it won’t be ground breaking, but it will have some effect on the industry. The most notable effect it has on the industry is blending professional and consumer platforms into one hybrid platform that some might argue does nothing well and everything poorly. Time will tell what functionality from the two drastically different platforms will make it into the Skype for Business release in 2015, but reports are already hinting at the user interface changing to look more like Skype and less like Lync 2010 or 2013. Reports also indicate H.264 encoding adoption so Lync will finally be able to directly federate with Skype.

Besides the blending of the “professional” vtc (professional in quotes because Lync wasn’t close to competing in quality or market share with Cisco/Polycom/LifeSize). It will be interesting to see how this will affect hardware manufacturers. Will there also be a hybrid-level set of hardware coming down the pipeline? Something that sits between the logitech table top webcam and a professional camera which connects via, or converts to, USB? Will there finally be a usable product between the $1000 and $3000 price points?

Time will tell, for all factors, how this decision will play out in our industry, and whether or not it will be a success for Microsoft. One thing that is for sure, Skype for Business is one step closer to bridging the comfort gap that prevents technophobes from adopting any modicum of videoconferencing. Also, it will be funny to think about all the telecom professionals now having the title of “Skype Administrator”

What do you think this will mean for the industry? For your users?

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And So it Goes… Saying Goodbye to Windows XP


“And so it goes…” as Kurt Vonnegut would say, time and time, again in Slaughterhouse Five to indicate death.

Today is the day that technology managers have been either dreaming of or dreading, the end of support for Windows XP, the staple operating system (OS) from technology giant Microsoft. After approximately 13 years, Windows XP will no longer be supported, nor will security patches be developed and released, despite glaring security vulnerabilities routinely exploited by hackers.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Windows XP accounts for nearly 30% of desktop computers according to researcher NetApplications, while Windows 7 holds an approximately 49% share of the desktop OS market. Windows XP is favored among “computers” requiring a small footprint- digital signage units, automated teller machines (ATMs) and control systems for water, sewer and electric plants.

Some campuses started early, and pushed to migrate machines from Windows XP to Windows 7, the university I work for completed their transition two years ago. However, lately I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter among fellow higher-ed technology managers about forming (yes forming) teams to handle the transition to Windows 7, with target completion dates extending to the end of 2014. Windows 7 is two versions behind the latest Windows release of 8.1, and is four years-old in its own right. User adoption seems to be the main hurdle to overcome; as software and hardware manufacturers have released updates to make interfaces and programs compatible with Windows 7, and a majority of Windows 8.

It will be interesting to see how these application critical machines, especially ATMs, are maintained to limit the vulnerability to numerous hacking threats to which their archaic software is susceptible. Will financial institutions and utility providers upgrade their software? A Citigroup Inc. spokesperson is quoted as saying “Citibank is in the process of migrating ATMs away from Windows XP; we have plans in place that will maintain the protection of our ATMs during this transition.”

 

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