At Microsoft’s first-ever Lync Conference last month, Tony Bates, president of the Skype Division of Microsoft, said Microsoft’s goal is to rehumanize communications, from the living room to the boardroom.
Our communications need to put people first, he said. They need to let people communicate how and when they want. And they need to be simple, convenient and natural.
Introducing the new Lync Online
With the new Lync Online, technology has advanced to the point where online meetings, known as Lync meetings, can replace most face-to-face business communication. An enterprise-ready unified communications platform, Lync Online enables users to connect with colleagues across a range of devices and platforms through instant messaging (IM), video calls, online meetings, and phone calls.
Lync Online provides high-definition (HD) video conferencing capabilities. Meeting attendees can simultaneously view up to five participants, identify the active speaker, and associate names with faces. Lync also includes intuitive control features that enable the presenter to optimize the visual presentation based on what’s being discussed.
Users can quickly move from a chat session to a Lync meeting using multi-party HD video right from within Lync. They can then share and present content as well as take notes from within the meeting experience. Participants can use the whiteboard capabilities to brainstorm as well as clarify discussion points. Lync supports up to 250 attendees to a meeting. These meetings can also be recorded for replaying at a later time. This enables organizations and institutions to schedule meetings or organize classes using Lync capabilities.
Users can also easily hold meetings while on the go across a variety of devices and platforms. Lync Online is optimized for touch, and includes Lync Web App for access using a variety of browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. If your customers don’t have Lync, no problem! They can still participate in meetings by downloading a free client for attendees.
In addition, Lync Online will soon be integrated with the popular video chat service Skype, making it possible for users to communicate with hundreds of millions of people using presence, IM, audio, and video conferencing. The integration with Skype opens a whole new communications door for business-to-customer communication.
Lync Online: Better meetings, more productivity
In a nutshell, Lync Online is cutting-edge. Customers get so much more with Lync Online than they do with Google Talk and Google+ Hangouts. It all translates to a better, more productive organization-no matter where your employees and customers are located.
So what are some of the ways in which Lync Online offers a superior experience to capabilities provided by Google?
- Unlike Lync, Google Talk does not integrate into existing telephony services that organizations use.
- Lync enables users to search people across their address book as well as search for people based on their skills. Google Talk is not integrated with an address book, nor does it allow users to search for people based on their or skills and capabilities.
- Whereas Lync allows for online meetings with up to 250 participants, Google+ Hangouts is limited to just 15 participants.
- Lync allows users to remove participants. By contrast, Google+ Hangouts can only block a participant, and only if all the other participants agree.
- Lync users can communicate with others, internally or outside their organization, even if they don’t have Lync installed. By contrast, Google+ users can only communicate via video with other Google+ users.
- Unlike Lync, which has a whiteboard built in, Google+ Hangouts requires installing a separate application for whiteboard use.
- Unlike Lync, Google+ Hangouts lacks high-definition video.
- Applications used in Google+ Hangouts are not supported by tablets or mobile devices, limiting user productivity.
- Google+ Hangouts doesn’t provide integration with Skype, used by more than 250 million connected users worldwide.
- Unlike Lync, which adapts automatically to changing bandwidth conditions, Google+
Hangouts requires users to move a bandwidth slider to keep Hangouts going in areas with poor connectivity.
The new Lync Online: Better than ever
The updated Lync Online has been well-received by reviewers. Says Doug Dineley of InfoWorld: “Lync Online provides presence management, voice and HD videoconferencing, live document sharing, and the ability to sync Lync with certain VoIP phones. Basically, the online servers deliver all the features you’re most likely using from your on-premises servers, but in a simpler format.”
David Roe of CMS Wire agrees. He calls the cloud-based versions of SharePoint, Lync, and Exchange “full-featured,” adding that all have been improved for business usage-that aim to make users better communicators and collaborators inside and outside the enterprise.
Likewise, Bob Charlie of IT Pro calls the updated Lync Online “a technology that sits well with the work-anywhere ethos of Office 365.” The new Lync Online is “integrated nicely into Office 365, allowing for hour long meetings or five minute chats,” he writes.
As easy as talking face-to-face
For virtual meetings to be viable, they need function just like a face-to-face meeting would. The new Lync Online takes a bold step in that direction by making online meetings almost as simple, convenient, and natural as being in the same room.
As Redmond Channel Partner wrote in its article, Microsoft Lync Moves to the Must-Have List: “Instant messaging and presence may have been a ‘nice-to-have’ requirement for businesses in the past, but the fully connected world is moving them to the ‘must-have’ list on project proposals.”
Lync Online can be purchased as a standalone plan or as part of Office 365. If you haven’t already, give it a try. We’d love to hear what you think.