Microsoft has done a lot of consolidating lately, and the latest step is to merge communications between Lync, its business/office video communications app, and Skype, the commercial product it acquired two years ago.
Users who update to the latest versions of both Skype and the Office app Lync will now be able to make video calls to one another and not be bound by having the same app. Lync users can make and receive calls from Skype users, and vice versa.
This merger has been in the works for some time, as Microsoft noted in the Office Blog, where it announced the integration of the two video chat apps. In 2013, Microsoft enabled Lync users to contact people on Skype using instant messaging, presence, and audio calling from the Lync contact list. This latest step now adds video.
The addition gives Lync users the ability to perform video conferencing from behind a firewall, using the scalable video codec H.264 SVC and secure communication through firewalls. Lync uses enterprise-class encryption of both media and signaling using TLS and SRTP, which are enabled by default, and uses standards-based traversal of personal and corporate firewalls through STUN, TURN and ICE.
It should be noted (and come as no surprise) that the video calling feature is only available on the Windows platform, and on Windows 7 and later. However, Microsoft said other platforms will soon get the ability to conference with Lync users, starting with Android and iOS in the next few months.
Also on the agenda for 2015 is the next version of Lync, which will be known as Skype for Business. That will feature a better-behaved app when minimized while you use another application on the PC, and also simple call transferring, so you can send a caller to someone else on Skype or Lync.