Microsoft has announced that the next version of its Lync communications platform will arrive next year under the name Skype for Business. It will remain as a separate client, server and service as distinct from the free version of Skype for consumers.
Announcing the move on Microsoft's Office blog, Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president for Skype, said that the next version of Lync will feature a new client experience, new server release and updates to the service included in Microsoft's Office 365.
"We believe that Skype for Business will again transform the way people communicate by giving organisations reach to hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business," he said.
Skype for Business takes advantage of the strengths of both Skype and Lync, according to Microsoft. For example, the firm is adopting the Skype icons for calling, adding video and ending a call.
However, Skype for Business keeps and improves on all of the capabilities of Lync, including content sharing and telephony, while remaining a separate client, server and service when it becomes available some time in the first half of 2015.
Current Lync Server customers will be able to take advantage of these capabilities simply by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their data centre, Microsoft promised.
"For Office 365 customers, it's even simpler. We'll do the required updates. And because communications is mission-critical, this release meets a new bar for reliability and performance," Pall said.
Lync is Microsoft's own platform and, unlike Skype, was designed for enterprise telephony, messaging and videoconferencing.
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