Microsoft recently announced that users can now make Skype calls within the Outlook.com experience. This elevates Outlook.com as a center-of-the-universe in your communications scenarios. You can make a voice or video call with one or more users as easily as you can send them an email or a meeting invitation.
Why The Integration of Skype Is Important
Now while Outlook.com (formerly Live… formerly Hotmail) is one of the largest email services (and one of the largest web services, period) in the world, it's a consumer-focused service, of course. Not directly related to the enterprise focus of my SharePoint Pro articles.
HOWEVER, what this move reveals is illuminating.
Microsoft is, as many expected, integrating Skype directly into Outlook, with the "services first" approach. It's really easy to extrapolate Microsoft's roadmap, which would integrate Skype into Office 365's Outlook Web App and into the rich Outlook client.
What Happens to the Lync Brand?
I think it's going to be very interesting to see whether Microsoft abandons the Lync brand--one of (what I would consider) to be the best enterprise brands Microsoft has, as far as user recognition of an enterprise-class application.
To me, it makes zero sense to maintain both Skype and Lync brands, and given the megatrend of consumerization of IT, I think it's time to gracefully release the Lync brand.
In a few years, however, Microsoft should then give it a new life as the brand for a device--whatever the smart/mobile device of the time might be. Check this out: I'm getting a holographic message on my Lync!
Or, better yet, recycle it as the SkyDrive replacement. My data is stored in "Lync," which is then "linked" across all my devices--kind of makes sense, no?
Skype and Outlook.com integration is currently available in several major markets.
For details about the announcement, read Microsoft's blog post.