By Blake Shepard, Senior Business Planner, Lync

On February 19th Tony Bates, President of Microsoft’s Skype Division, announced in the keynote address at the Lync Conference and also in a blog post that Lync-Skype Connectivity for presence, IM, and voice will be available to all Lync users by June. This article is a follow-up to provide additional details and answers to the most frequently asked questions as we set out on the journey to re-humanize communications “from the living room to the boardroom.”

Lync-Skype Connectivity, available for both Lync Online and Lync Server, will enable Lync customers to connect and collaborate with suppliers, customers, and partners—relying on the richness of Lync and leveraging the reach of Skype. The upcoming release is an important first step unlocking the combined value of Lync and Skype. Over time, we will add more capabilities, with video calling as our next priority.

Many Lync users are already enjoying IM and presence connectivity with their former Windows Live Messenger contacts who have transitioned to Skype as part of Messenger’s retirement. By June, we will enable audio calls between Lync and Skype and the ability for Skype users to find Lync users and add them to their Skype contact lists. We will make another announcement when this next set of capabilities is available. Meanwhile, below are the most common questions that we’ve been receiving from customers about where we are today.

FAQs

Is IM and presence available today between Lync and Skype? Yes, on a limited basis. This functionality is enabled as part of the transition from Windows Live Messenger to Skype. Messenger users’ federated Lync contacts follow the transition into Skype with the rest of their buddy lists, and IM between Skype and Lync for these contacts is available immediately. Lync customers do not need to do anything to enable this continuity of service, but Skype users must sign into Skype using the same Microsoft account (formerly known as Windows Live ID) as was used for Messenger. (Note: Adding new Lync federated contacts into Skype and audio calling between Skype and Lync will both be available by June.)

Can Skype users add Lync users to their contact lists today? No, but this feature will be part of the enhancements delivered by June. The current set of capabilities is specific to enabling the Windows Live Messenger transition.

Can Lync users add Skype users to their Lync contact lists today? Lync users can add Skype users’ Microsoft accounts to their contact lists the same way that they have been able to add Messenger contacts (capability must be enabled by Lync administrator), and Skype users can sign in with Microsoft accounts (formerly known as Windows Live IDs).  When both of these occur, IM and presence connectivity between Lync and Skype is established.

What communications capabilities will be supported between Lync and Skype as part of the upcoming release? Lync-Skype connectivity for presence, one-on-one IM, and audio calling will be available to all Lync users by June. Over time, we will add more capabilities, with video calling as our next priority.

What must Skype users do to connect to Lync contacts in the upcoming release? There are two requirements for Skype users to use all of the features: 1) Use the updated Skype client (release TBD, but by June), and; 2) Sign-in to Skype with a Microsoft account (which can be associated with an existing Skype ID).

Will Skype Connectivity work with Lync 2010? Yes, Lync 2010 is supported the same as Lync 2013.

What Lync licenses are required for Skype Connectivity? Skype Connectivity is licensed as part of Lync Standard CAL, Lync Online Plan 1, Lync Online Plan 2, or Lync Online Plan 3.