Microsoft has officially unveiled Lync, the latest release of its converged communications platform, adding conferencing capabilities, support for high-definition voice, better federation and options for cloud delivery.
Lync is the new brand name for Microsoft's converged communications products, with Office Communications Server becoming Lync Server 2010, while the client is now simply Lync 2010.
The software is due for general availability from 1 December, but MSDN and TechNet subscribers can download the software from today, Microsoft said.
As with earlier releases, Lync provides instant messaging and presence, plus enterprise voice and telephony functions, with links to other Office tools such as Exchange and SharePoint.
New in this release are features to add greater resiliency in voice calls, user interface improvements to make the system easier to use, and greater interoperability, features that will enable customers to reduce costs through greater use of converged communications, Microsoft said.
One notable addition is Microsoft Live Meeting for audio, video and web conferencing, making Lync "a unified platform for business conferencing and telephony requirements", according to Steve Tassell, Microsoft's unified communications product manager.
Lync also interoperates better with third-party systems, including consumer messaging platforms from AOL, and Yahoo, so that Lync 2010 allows users "to have one buddy list for everything", Tassell said. Integration with Google Talk is also promised.
Greater federation also means that users can see the status of key contacts in partner organisations, and save on call costs by making a direct IP call to them over the internet, he added.
Lync now supports high-definition voice for greater call clarity, but only if both ends of the call are HD-enabled, Microsoft said.
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