Microsoft Lync is one of the most popular unified communications platforms on the market. Enterprise customers of Microsoft Lync 2010 have experienced significant cost reductions from implementing MS UC; with a reported average of over £2.5million in savings per 1,000 employees over a time period of six months.
MS Lync combines real time presence information with IM, video conferencing, VoIP, email Exchange and Microsoft Office to create efficiencies and leverage productivity. This year will see the release of Microsoft's latest UC server upgrade - Microsoft Lync 2013.
Lync 2013 isn't a brand spanking new platform however it does build on all of the associated features of Microsoft Lync 2010 to deliver a more powerful and robust user experience. Microsoft promises better resiliency and reliability with its 2013 model, as well as drastic improvements in how you communicate on the move.
Better Enterprise Voice
As I work with many unified communications platforms, Microsoft's voice offering was always poor in comparison with solutions from the likes of Cisco, Avaya or Swyx. They maintained great convergence with servers, back end IT systems and much-needed office applications but the VoIP did not live up to standard.
MS Lync 2013 incorporates many changes into its voice offering in an attempt to tackle the market of corporate grade telephony. As a result, not only has the overall VoIP asset been improved and built upon but there are now several new related enhancements.
Microsoft now offers support for multiple trunks between mediation servers and gateways, as well as sophisticated routing to allow the server to act as a go-between among IP and PSTN gateways. This means you can allow Lync users to dial legacy PBX extensions, or make calls via a traditional PSTN connection in situations where SIP trunking isn't an option.
Users can also now set up simultaneous ringing where multiple designated phones can ring at the same time i.e. a delegate's deskphone and smartphone. There is also the introduction of voicemail escape - which lets business calls on personal lines pass through to corporate voicemail - and caller ID.
Microsoft responded neatly to this rising trend of hyper mobility by bringing a brand new feature rich app to a variety of smartphones and tablets. Lync has been developed not just to work in conjunction with Windows Phone (although this would be the most desirable option to Microsoft) but also for iOS and Android, meaning that customers can continue to rely on Microsoft no matter which device they choose.
MS Lync 2013 mobile clients will be able to make audio, video and conference calls from their mobile device, and will be able to instant message of join a Lync meeting from virtually anywhere in the world.
Microsoft has worked very hard in propagating Lync to mobile services, making a clear differentiation between smartphone and tablet users (unlike any other unified communications provider). Of course, Microsoft claims that the best experience will be given on its own operating system, but the firm does like to point out that it has distinctly ensured that the differences between smartphones and tablets is catered for like never before.
"The smartphone client is designed for users in motion, whereas the tablet tends to be used while users are more stationary and consumption of content and meeting attendance are key use cases," says Microsoft.
Improved Chat and IM
Persistent chat is a new Lync service built around the former 'group chat' function. 'Persistent' means a history of the chat session is retained, so users can jump into a chat room and get up to speed conversations that have already taken place. Discussions in 2010 were previously not kept or archived which provided many legal implications to perspective users.
Furthermore with the new tabbed conversations feature, you can now keep all your calls, instant messages and chat rooms in one conversation window. You can quickly add others to an IM conversation or upgrade it to an audio or video call in one simple click.
New Conferencing features
The conferencing features have undergone a radical makeover in MS Lync 2013 which delivers support for 1080p HD resolution for video conferencing. Plus this video conferencing will be available across a broader range of platform and devices and is easier to use and manage.
A more productive Lync Web app
With Lync 2013 comes a brand new web app with full conference support which makes it easier for users without the Lync client to join meetings via browsers. This means that the Lync Attendee client is gone which gives your IT guys one less thing to manage. Lync 2013's web app delivers the full Lync meeting experience with HD video, VoIP, IM and desktop sharing, all from a user's browser.
What about Skype?
The question that seems to be on everyone's lips after the very publicised acquisition of Skype last year is how Microsoft is going to implement this as a feature into Lync 2013.
Lync has always provided the option to integrate and communicate with Windows Live Messenger, but Microsoft is phasing that platform out and driving users over to Skype instead. We'll have to see how successfully Microsoft extends communications to Skype with presence, instant messaging, and voice capabilities with the release early this year.
Find a Microsoft Lync 2013 provider
Microsoft has really cleaned up its 2010 offering providing enhancements across the board and delivering a more intuitive, slicker user interface. It aims to create even more efficiencies in a worker's day by making it easier and quicker to contact participants and set up meetings.
There are also a lot of other smaller enhancements that go to improving the overall look and feel of the product. However, if you are new to Microsoft Lync and considering implementing Lync 2013, you will almost certainly need training.
Elite Telecom is a reputable Microsoft Lync provider who can work closely with you and your staff to integrate Lync 2013 seamlessly into your business, keeping downtime to an absolute minimum. To find out more on Microsoft Lync or find out which unified communications solution is best for your business, call Elite to discuss.
Nick Mannion is the Commercial Director for Elite Telecom, UK Unified Communications Providers. All information included in the article is provided and written by Nick on behalf of Elite.
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