We wondered what Microsoft would do with Lync and Skype back in 2011 when Microsoft made the surprise acquisition of the Luxembourg company. There was a clear divide. Lync was a bulky on-premises corporate tool with phone system aspirations. Skype was a cloud-based consumer product that offered phone services in addition to voice, video and IM.
Skype went on to kill of Live (MSN) Messenger for IM – and unfortunately Skype’s chat has since not improved itself to keep up with what Messenger was as an IM tool. And Skype has other awful behaviours, particularly if you own multiple devices – such as showing you online when you are not, ringing on one device even though you have answered on another, and so on.
Lync went online (phone system availability is limited by country/partner) as a part of Office 365. And other than that, it’s not really improved much.
We did get an integration, somewhat between the 2 disparate MSFT communications tools; a Skype user can chat with a Lync user.
But in this era when Microsoft says that we are using 1 account and 1 (or many) device to span both work and play, do we really want two chat tools with two very different experiences?
In my opinion, Skype offers a superior experience to Lync. I’ve always found the Lync client and experience to be a bit ropey. How many of us have been in Lync events and spent an age waiting for PowerPoint decks to appear, demos to load, or been asked by moderators to flash status if we can/cannot hear. How many of us have had to restart because Lync audio isn’t working? I never get that with Skype.
And look at where the development investment is going. Skype Translate is a genuinely valuable business feature, enabling people who speak different languages to communicate, albeit with some minor hiccups in the sneak previews.
I would be fine with the Lync client going away in favour of Skype. I would do the following:
- Enable Skype clients to be joined (via policy or sign-up) to a Lync service for control – business still needs control
- Fix the ringing/status issues of Skype
- Drop the Lync client as it exists
- Enable 2 profiles in Skype – work and personal, so a user can opt out of work communications outside of hours