Lync and Skype: Intense end of the year for 2014

If you are following technology news, you’ve probably seen all the big announcements about Lync and Skype at the end of 2014. These ones offer good insights with some Skype features for the consumer and Lync updates. We could also see some new features during Windows 10 Keynote, I will come back to this topic in another post.

Lync becomes Skype for Business

Announced on the 11th of November by Gurdeep Singh Pall, VP of division, Lync will become Skype for Business with the next version :

“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”

Microsoft continues to build “Universal Communications”: Skype for consumer and Skype for Business for the enterprise world. Skype for Business’s UX is close to Skype’s, with features optimized for professional use. Some are integrated in this new client, such as “Top-most” of “Call Monitor” conversation, already available in Skype for a long time. Despite the difference between these two worlds (User Experience, Security, etc. …). These two universes stay connected by federation, which have also advanced.

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Lync and Skype Video Interoperability

Lync and Skype Interoperability has been available since May 2013, only for presence, IM and audio. We had expected video modality for a while, and now it is finally here.

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First target is Windows Desktop Clients with Microsoft Account. Communication is secured and uses STUN, TURN and ICE mechanisms to go through firewalls as well as SILK and H264SVC codecs for audio and video.

Others platforms will come later with support for SkypeID

Official announcements :

· http://blogs.office.com/2014/12/05/video-calling-skype-lync-available-now/

· http://blogs.skype.com/2014/12/05/skype-and-lync-deliver-video-calls/

Skype for Web Beta

On October 27th, Skype’s Blog announced the start of ORTC for WebRTC implementation in Internet Explorer. “Platform Status” webpage confirms:

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But what is this?

ORTC API for WebRTC (Object Real-Time Communication) opens lots of opportunities for developers to create applications managing real time communications without a plugin. This open source project is supported by big actors like Microsoft as well as Google.

Can I get an example?

Almost two weeks after the first report, Microsoft launched Skype for Web Beta

User Experience is easy: users connect to Skype.com and get a skype desktop-like environment with the same features: presence, im, audio and video. They are able to communicate with their contacts without the need to install full skype software. For now, audio and video require a plugin but in the future with WebRTC, a plugin will not be necessary.

Skype Translator

I want to finish with an amazing new future component of Skype: Skype Translator. As its name suggests, this feature nearly translates in real-time Skype conversations in im and audio.

Supposing that you are talking with someone who is on the other side of the world, and who doesn’t speak your language, you will not have any problem understanding each other. The language barrier no longer exist, great!

Microsoft published a video which demonstrate the concept:

The process is based on an A.I. agent (so the conversation has 3 attendees) who translates in real-time and becomes smarter day by day because it is learning all the expressions and accents. Actually, all this technology comes from Microsoft Research Labs: machine learning (available in Azure), speech recognition and automatic translation. I suggest you read this post “Skype Translator – How it works” on Skype Blog and download this poster which describes the steps:

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The Beta version is only available in English and Spanish currently. You can sign in, specify your preferences and be one of the first to test.

This year will be very interesting for Universal Communications at Microsoft!

Stay Tuned!

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TechEd Europe 2014 : Lync Development Platform Sessions

Two weeks ago Microsoft organized the TechEd Europe 2014 in Barcelona. As usual, some sessions was dedicated to Lync and Skype.

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I wanted to make a focus on two videos about Lync Development Platform :

    The Power of Lync and the Unified Communications Web API

    by David Newman and Ganesh Sridharan

    The Lync Developer Platform Demo Fest

    by David Newman and Barry Castle

You can find all TechEd videos on channel 9 and specially about Lync and Skype.

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Lync Conference 2014: Lync and Skype videos around Development

If you missed the Lync Conference in Las Vegas last February, here’s your chance to catch up! All sessions have been available on Channel 9 for a couple of weeks now. Below are the links to all videos about developing for Lync and Skype.

Understanding the Lync Developer Platform, what API to use and what is coming!

This session explains the vision of the Product Group on APIs, what’s available today and what’s coming next.

 

Making Skype to Lync Connectivity work in the contact center – a technical deep dive

A nice session about Skype URIs and integration within a Contact Center such as Skype client management in a UCMA application.

Some other sessions covered the different APIs in general:

On the “Platform” track, you can also find partner sessions showing a few examples of how Lync APIs are used by various applications: Recording, UI Interfaces, Contact Center, … .

And to finish with, here’s another great session about troubleshooting tools:

The Lync Developer platform – how to use logging and other tools to troubleshoot

 

And I can only recommend that you also watch other IT sessions such as the ones about ICE/ Edge, Lync Room System or Lync Mobile.

Stay tuned!

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Lync Conference 2014: Good news from Las Vegas

Second Lync Conference: done! Once again I had the chance to attend this year’s edition which was held a few weeks ago at the Aria Hotel Resort conference center. This is the most important event of the year for all members of the Microsoft UC ecosystem, a great opportunity to talk to Microsoft teams and customers, as well as partners and MVPs.

Like last year, rich content was presented across more than 170 sessions and announcements around the future of Lync and Skype and development as well!

After reviewing the situation since the launch of LCS ten years ago, Gurdeep Singh Pall and Derek Burney introduced Microsoft’s vision around unified communications, or rather “universal communications”.

A few new features around Lync and Skype were introduced, with some already available:

Lync Mobile

    · Voice command in Lync Mobile on Windows Phone: Based on the Windows Phone 8 speech recognition features, you can automatically join a Lync Meeting. As a reminder, mobile clients are updated once every quarter.

    · Lync Mobile on Android tablet will be available on Google Play at the end of June

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    · Anonymous access from mobile client on Windows Phone, iOS and Windows 8 allows you to invite anyone to join a meeting even if they don’t have a Lync account

    · Content Sharing like Powerpoint on iPhone: the app offers the same experience as the desktop client

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Lync Modern UI

    · Answer calls directly from lock screen

    · Automatic resize of client and content in spilt screen mode

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Interoperability

    · Lync and Skype Video Connectivity

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    · Interoperability with CISCO/Tandberg VTC: Videoconferencing tools integrated natively in Lync Meeting without the need for a specific gateway

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Lync Online

    · PSTN calls in cloud system

    · Large Meeting (more than 1,000 participants)

API

    · Media Integration in web portal: Most probably the one feature I had been waiting for the most! Written in Javascript, there’s going to be a massive number of usage scenarios.

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After reviewing the new features, the last part of the keynote presentation was dedicated to the future of these technologies at Microsoft:

“Close this decade by saying the future of unified communications that we had predicted 10 years ago has come […] What is the next future?”

That is a good transition to the main ideas of this vision.

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    · “Work & Life“: The time of “don’t bring work at home” is over.

    · “Social” to work with all the people that I need

    · “Devices”: Number of devices per person is growing

    · “Sync & Async“: Convergence of communication tools like IM, Video, Text Messaging, etc.

    · “Cloud”

These five themes require changes such as:

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    · Consistent Experience: Using software as if you were at home, as a result users are more productive and do not need a lot of training

    · Context and Application Intelligence: Introduce more intelligence and context in all the tools we use every day

    · All Devices

    · Video Everywhere: Connect with anyone anywhere through video

    · Global Reach through Cloud: Find all data (Pictures, Videos, Files) from the cloud

These new orientations will enable the transition to a new world – Universal Communications. The future looks bright:”1 billion people in this decade will use Microsoft Universal Communications”. Here’s an example:

To conclude, lots of subjects were addressed during this keynote and all along the 4 days there. We achieved a lot of good stuff over the past few years and the next decade will be exciting :)

I ’ll come back to you with more details on all major announcements around Lync development in my next post.

You can watch the whole keynote at www.lyncconf.com. The sessions are only available to attendees, but some are published to the Microsoft Lync youtube channel on a regular basis.

Stay tuned!

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New Year, New Resolution!

I started blogging three years ago and now I want to start a new adventure with xpandlync.com.

Since last July, I have been the proud co-founder of Neitiv and I have been focusing on the development of unified communication solutions around Microsoft Lync, Skype and hardware equipment such as Plantronics headsets, and Snom or Polycom IP phones.03-02-2014 17-08-56

I will be sharing all the tips and tutorials I use to build UC scenarios based on these technologies and I will also publish the applications and code I use for my own projects.

I will also continue to add posts to my French Lync blog www.techandprog.fr. This one  focuses more on the IT part.

I hope you find the information helpful and interesting, and please feel free to share your impressions. I’m always happy to hear what you have to say!

And for all the latest news follow me on Twitter #Lync @alexis_conia

Stay tuned!

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