The Effects of Transitioning Lync to Skype for Business

By siteadmin

What does the end of life for Lync mean for Microsoft and its customers?

Microsoft started the process of transitioning Lync to Skype for Business in 2015. How has that transition gone and how has it impacted Lync and Skype customers?

To understand the answer to those questions you have to go back in time a bit to recall why Microsoft made the change in the first place. After all, Lync was a strong brand and the announcement prompted a lot of concern regarding the features of the “new” product.

In the end, however, it was all about branding.

Yep, all that hullaballoo about technology and the intricacies of enterprise telephony systems turned out to be an exercise in branding.

Extending the Reach of Skype

Before the switch happened, people would use Skype when calling their mother at the weekend and Lync when participating in a conference call at work on a Thursday afternoon. Microsoft wants as many people as possible to use its Skype platform for both.

Simply changing Lync to Skype would have achieved this. It would also have extended the reach of Skype to people who don’t use it for personal communication.

Microsoft faced two issues, however:

  1. Skype was a known primarily as a consumer platform
  2. Lync had a strong brand of its own

Simply saying Lync was becoming Skype could have bled users who may have thought they were being moved to a platform with fewer enterprise features. Skype for Business was the solution as it gave the rebranding effort a bit of distance from the consumer platform

Of course, it didn’t end the confusion entirely. For example, pricing leaves some scratching their heads, i.e. Skype is free for personal users so why should enterprise users have to pay?

Microsoft is getting through these issues as Skype for Business beds in. The passage of time helps, as does the fact that none of the familiar Lync features that users were comfortable with changed. In addition, they have enhanced Skype for Business with new features and tweaks.

Has the Change Worked, and What About the Future?

In large part, the change has worked. People now talk less about Lync, plus they like the fact the Skype for Business platform is already familiar to many of their users. This reduces the training curve and lowers user resistance, both of which saves businesses money.

Microsoft still faces challenges with Skype for Business, however. Ironically, many are branding challenges. Consider this short extract from one of its support pages:

“Open Skype for Business (Lync). If you’re using Lync Basic, you’ll see Lync Basic at the top of the Skype for Business (Lync) main window.”

There is a risk this sort of documentation will become increasingly confusing, particularly to users who never used or experienced Lync. At this stage of the transition, the sooner Microsoft can remove any mention of Lync the better.

Like Windows Meeting Space and Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Lync will soon start to gather dust both as a product and a brand while Skype’s position strengthens. Are the needs of enterprise users being met, though?

Most businesses strive towards the perfect communications solution – anywhere, any device, any number of participants, any method of communication, and perfect quality. Skype for Business is not there yet.