Microsoft Lync alternatives

Microsoft Lync
Microsoft Lync (formerly Microsoft Office Communicator) and Microsoft Lync for Mac are instant messaging clients used with Microsoft Lync Server or Lync Online available with Microsoft Office 365. Basic features include instant messaging, Voice Over IP and Video Conferencing inside the client software.
Here are the latest news about Microsoft Lync:

2013 Microsoft connected Lync and Skype


Almost 300 million people around the world use Skype. This is a very large customer base, that's why many companies add skype-address to their contacts in order to offer customers a convenient communication channel. But in large companies using Skype at the workplace - doesn't fit the corporate security policy. Therefore, the integration of Skype with Lync communication server can become a breakthrough for deploying Skype in large companies. And thus Microsoft can get a significant competitive advantage over Cisco, Avaya and other enterprise communication vendors. That's was the main reason why Microsoft acquired Skype for a lot of money.


So now Lync (or Lync Online in Office 365) users can add Skype contacts to their contact list, see their online status, chat and call them. The same actions are available for Skype users.

What is not implemented yet: video calling, conferencing, support for Skype mobile apps. Microsoft promised to add these features later.


2010 Lync 2010 becomes social

Lync 2010
Oh, we didn't rename our products for so long time, thought people in Microsoft and decided to rename MS Office Communications Server to Lync. The new version Lync 2010 with a status "release candidate" is already available for free download and contains a large number of new features as compared to OCS. Most interesting are social features, that we used to see more in social networks rather than in VoIP-solutions. First, the activity feeds that you can subscribe to view contact's status changes. Like in the location-services, Lync can determine the actual contact location by the network point to which he is currently connected. People search allows you to find the right person in the company by name and by the area of expertise. Another interesting feature - context call that allows users to push the conversation subject before making a call, so the contact could better prepair to the conversation.

Lync 2010 Communicator
As for the new communication features, Lync 2010 supports videoconferencing streams with resolution of 720p HD as well as panoramic HD-video.
 
The "simultaneous call" feature allows users to redirect incoming calls to any internal number or several numbers or directly to voicemail. Voicemail in Lync 2010 will be transcribed to text in real time, so that users could read the contents of the incoming voice messages.

Lync 2010
Microsoft will also release web-client Lync Web App and a new mobile client Lync Mobile (it's not clear yet for what platforms).

Commercial version of Lync 2010 is scheduled for the end of this year.