One of the highlights of the Lync Conference in San Diego (Feb 2013) was the demonstration and revelation of much of the workings of the long-awaited Lync Federation with Skype.
Here’s a bullet-point summary of what I took from the sessions:
- Federation will require an update to the Skype client (to v6.x – release TBD). Current ETA is now by the end of June
- A Skype user will need to have their account associated with a Microsoft Account. Legacy Skype users whose account remains unlinked from a Microsoft ID will not be able to Federate
- If you sign in to Skype (v6.0 or later) with an existing Microsoft Account (i.e., the same creds as your Windows Live Messenger account) your existing buddy lists will auto-populate into Skype. This will include any existing federated Lync contacts
- Skype Federation uses the existing PIC (Public IM Connectivity) structure, so if you already have PIC access, Skype will just work. If you don’t yet have PIC access, visit https://pic.lync.com and fill out the form
- It will be available for Lync Server 2010, Lync Server 2013 & Lync Online
- At release you will be able to send IMs and make audio calls between platforms. Video calling and content sharing won’t be added until an update to Lync currently scheduled for 2Q2014
- The audio codec used for Skype-to-Lync calls will be G.722 (aka WB/wideband). This will ensure a higher fidelity call, but perhaps at the expense of performance on poor networks. Other codecs are expected to be added down the track
Microsoft’s goal has been to bring together the richness of Lync with the reach of Skype, further re-humanising communication. Skype Federation will certainly provide a lot of exciting opportunities, and will enable us to communicate “from the living room to the boardroom”.