“In the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release and updates to the service in Office 365,” said an official blog post from Skype. “For our business customers, we are bringing together the familiar experience and user love of Skype with the enterprise security, compliance and control from Lync.”
Available through Lync Online, through Office 365 or the Microsoft Lync Server, Lync was originally intended as an enterprise replacement for Windows Messenger.
With today’s announcement, Skype for Business will largely keep the interface of its consumer messaging counterpart, but will take on additional security and IT management features found in Lync that will enhance content sharing and phone calls.
From that same blog post, Microsoft said Lync Server customers only need to update from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server, while Office 365 customers will see updates automatically.
Both Skype and Lync users could already communicate with each other through instant messaging and audio.
“This is fundamentally not a big change for a lot for channel partners who are already using Lync,” said Carmi Levy, a technology analyst and writer at Voices.com, who added that the merge could reduce confusion in the communication process and ease collaboration between channel partners and clients.
“The name change reflects the fact that Microsoft finally admits the Lync brand did not resonate with corporate buyers as much as the company would have liked.” Levy added. “As much as Microsoft tried to taget Lync at corporate buyers and Skype at consumers, the increasing trend toward BYOD rendered that strategy ineffective. Microsoft is simply doing what it should have done years ago, which is to put everything under the Skype brand.”