Microsoft Inches Ahead with Rebranded 'Lync' Unified Communication Server

Formerly known as Microsoft Communications Server, a renamed Office Communications Server 14 is making its way toward release.

 By Stuart J. Johnston
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Microsoft is nearing the official launch of Lync Server 2010, the unified communications product it had previously dubbed Office Communications Server "14," and which can already boast a number of early adopting customers queued up to put it into service.

Currently at the "release candidate" stage—the final stage of testing before a software product is "released to manufacturing," also referred to as RTM—Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Lync on Monday received its new name, a nod to what Microsoft officials described as the product's ability to closely integrate a variety of different IP-based communications technologies.

"Lync 2010 is the release that delivers on the vision [of] unifying enterprise voice, instant messaging and Web, audio and video conference—all within the same user experience and back-end infrastructure," Kirk Gregersen, senior director on the Office Communications team, said in a blog post. "There has been much speculation on what the new name for the release would be, so I get to officially announce that here—the new name is Microsoft Lync."

It's an important launch for Microsoft. During his keynote in March at VoiceCon 2010 in Orlando, Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group, previewed the update, highlighting features like skill searches, and improved presence and location awareness in what was then codenamed Office Communications Server 14.

Recent months have also seen Microsoft lining up partners like unified communications vendor Polycom, to offer solutions based on the technology, which Pall described as being the crux of businesses' growing reliance on VoIP and IP-based multimedia communications. In March, Pall also predicted that over the next three years, unified communications technology like Lync will overtake legacy PBX-style voice communications, with over 50 percent of business VoIP calls including more media than simply voice.

Microsoft plans to ship the final release of Lync Server 2010 by the end of the year, according to an e-mail from a Microsoft spokesperson.

As part of the product's branding change to "Lync," Microsoft is also changing several other product names accordingly. For instance, Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 R2, the client for the server, has been renamed Microsoft Lync 2010, while Office Communications Online is now Lync Online. Meanwhile, Office Communicator Web Access becomes Lync Web App.

The company is also touting early adopters—particularly members of Microsoft's Technology Adopter Program (TAP)—as proof of Lync Server 2010's early popularity.

"Over 100 customers and nearly two dozen partners have enrolled in early adoption programs to get an early experience with the new and enhanced features Lync brings. Additionally, more than 20,000 seats will be active before the final product launches," Microsoft's spokesperson said.

The release candidate of Lync Server 2010 is available as a downloadable trial.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

This article was originally published on Sep 14, 2010
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