At the Lync Conference in Las Vegas today, Microsoft demonstrated video calling between Lync and Skype. The firm told me separately it remains on track to deliver this functionality, as planned, by mid-2014.
"The coming years will bring an even more dramatic transformation as we enable people everywhere to take advantage of rich communications for all the important relationships in their work and personal lives," Microsoft corporate vice president Gurdeep Singh Pall said. "Consumers that already enjoy Skype will be able to easily reach businesses from the devices and services of their choice, and to take advantage of chat, voice, video and content sharing as they see fit. Professionals will be able to connect in the same ways with co-workers, business partners and customers around the globe, from the applications they use to run their businesses."
If you're not familiar with what's happening here, Microsoft has two major communications platforms, the consumer-oriented Skype and the business-oriented Lync. Under the recent Microsoft reorg, these two businesses are now being engineered side-by-side, and the firm has been working for the past couple of years to integrate them with each other and across the Microsoft stack.
With regards to Lync/Skype interoperability, Microsoft announced its plans a last year's Lync Conference, as I described at the time in Hey, You Got Your Skype in My Lync. The plan was to deliver Lync/Skype audio chat and IM by mid-2013 and Lync/Skype video chat by mid-2014. Microsoft did indeed ship the former in May 2013, as I wrote in Microsoft Announces First Step in Skype/Lync Interoperability. And now it's working on the latter.
The other interesting bit here is that Microsoft has been busy building out its mobile app lineup, and Lync has been particularly promiscuous, with mobile app versions for Windows (Modern), Windows Phone, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android handsets. Notice the missing platform there? Right, Android tablets. And sure enough, Microsoft today demonstrated its coming Lync app for Android tablets. (I’m not sure on the release date for that one, sorry.)
The goal across all of this interoperability—with Skype and Microsoft's other software platforms, and across various mobile platforms—is to ensure that customers can communicate seamlessly, at any time, using any device. And while there will be some easy-to-understand scenarios like Lync to phone and Skype to Lync, there will be some crazy ones too: Like Android tablet to HDTV, with Lync on the tablet and Skype on an Xbox One. Why not?