Microsoft Lync - First a New Name and Then on to General Availability

12 Sep 2010

Well, we have a new name for what has been broadly known as Microsoft OCS - Microsoft's UC product family. But somewhat lost in the discussion of the name change and branding effort being undertaken by Microsoft has been the formal march towards launch which was signified by the simultaneous announcement of availability of a formal Release Candidate (RC) for the Lync family (Microsoft Lync Server 2010 for what was termed Communications Server; Lync 2010 for the client, what was Communicator; and the balance of the family - Lync Online, and Lync Web App).

A formal RC implies that a general availability release of the product is not too far away. We've been hearing before the end of 2010. So, how good is that estimate? How far away is full Lync product availability, one might ask? Well, my experiences following major Microsoft releases, indicates that a formal Release Candidate typically takes its next step - software release to manufacturing (RTM) within 30-60 days. Let's say 45 days to RTM - which brings us to about the end of October for RTM. Post RTM, Microsoft product availability is usually, (absent finding any major glitches from users of the RC software) within a month or so. So, according to history, Microsoft Lync is likely to be available for sale (General Availability or GA) sometime between mid-November-maybe another reason to celebrate Thanksgiving Day; most likely making its Presence known before Christmas - and just making the estimated before end of calendar 2010.

Then the fun truly begins. The vaunted Microsoft branding/marketing push truly begins-Microsoft Partners expand their early selling activities into the broader market-and we begin to hear early success stories widely trumpeted. And Enterprises will have another highly touted but different UC solution to choose from.

What will Enterprises do? Will PBXes really be replaced with Lync solutions? Will customers initiate new deployments or expand OCS pilots or adopt a wait-and-see approach? How will the competitors (Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, Siemens, Aastra, etc.) respond? Will other players emerge with enterprise class solutions (Skype? Google? Others?)? How effectively will the solutions interoperate? How will today's multi-vendor deployments be migrated or integrated in mainline deployments, as opposed to closely monitored trials? What will the UC market space begin to look like by mid-2011? How successful will Microsoft's proposed transformational change of realtime communications be? How will collaboration apps and social networking play in the ever-transforming UC space? What other wild-cards will we see in 2011? How will the exhaust of IPv4 addresses and the transformation to IPv6 play out? How strongly will the economy recover and how will that affect purchases? Well, for sure, we're all going to have some wonderful experiences and stories to tell.

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