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Microsoft Lync shows off the basics, but misses the mark

At the Enterprise Connect, Microsoft's keynote address fell short.

This week, the 2013 edition of Enterprise Connect was held in Orlando, Florida. I don’t attend many of the sessions as I try to use the time to meet with companies, but I always reserve time for the keynote sessions. I hope to see something new and, as C+C Music Factory used to sing, “things that make me go hmmm."

The keynote I was most excited for was Microsoft’s because of all the changes that group has gone through recently. It’s merged with Skype, it’s part of Office 365, and the product recently held its first dedicated Lync conference.

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Overall, I’d give the keynote a C, only because of the tear-jerking video at the end. The keynote was presented by a casually dressed Eric Burney, who is the VP of both Lync and Office Data. The keynote kicked off with Burney setting up an Office 365 user and adding whatever specific Office applications that user might need. The demo then moved on to Eric Burney demonstrating Lync making calls from Windows Mobile, Apple, and Android phones. Both were met with a surprising amount of applause.

So Microsoft demonstrated setting up a user and making a call from a UC solution. Is that someone should get excited about? Normally no, but I think in Microsoft’s case it is interesting because it hasn’t been viewed as corporate-ready. A late 2012 ZK Research/Tech Target survey asked potential customers their opinions of Lync. Of the respondents, a whopping 38% felt that Lync either isn’t ready for adoption or have no interest in the product. So establishing that it can do the basics at the event was important for Lync.

Despite the fanfare around the ability to do things like makes calls and add users, I think Microsoft missed an opportunity with the keynote. At the end of the keynote, Microsoft showed a video where a child in some rural part of America was able to communicate in a virtual classroom with someone in Redmond using Lync. The student learned how to write software and his whole life turned around. That might have made a nice demonstration for the Enterprise Connect audience if it had ended at that, leaving the showing off of making calls for the show floor.

Also, Burney mentioned how Lync has the most ISV partners in the UC industry. Well, if that’s true, how about bringing one of them on stage to show the audience some capabilities that, when done with an ISV partner, can’t be done by arch rival Cisco or any other UC vendor?

So let’s all applaud Microsoft’s capability to do the basics and acting like the other UC vendors. Next year, let’s hope they show us something a little more unique to Microsoft.

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