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OCS Is Out, Lync Is In

With new product name, Communications Server enters release candidate stage.

With a release candidate version of the next version of Office Communications Server last month, Microsoft threw in a whole new brand name.

The products formerly known by the Office Communications brand will now be replaced by the Lync brand. The brand will cover a family of products, including the former Communications Server, Communications Online and Communicator. The branding also covers two new elements: Lync Web App and Lync Online, a planned hosted option.

The release candidates are for Lync 2010 and Lync Server 2010. General availability is scheduled for later this year.

Code-named "Communications Server 14," Lync Server 2010 is intended to either enhance or replace PBXs. In addition to providing presence, instant messaging and conferencing, Lync Server provides voice-calling capabilities accessible through a browser, mobile phone or its own client.

Key to the new release is the fact that the new unified communications (UC)platform will work seamlessly across both PCs, browsers and mobile devices, according to Microsoft. Blogger and Redmond columnist Mary Jo Foley reported the name change a week before the announcement, pointing to an unidentified blog post outlining the features of Microsoft Lync.


[Click on image for larger view.]
Microsoft Lync allows you to share documents and presentations from within your instant messaging window.

The blog post included screenshots, emphasizing the ability to view presence within Outlook, a telephone-like dialer and a video-conferencing interface. According to the release candidate notes, Lync Server 2010 has a single, consistent management infrastructure, new capabilities to increase availability, and interoperability with existing phone systems.

Microsoft also issued a release candidate for the new planning tool. A wizard-like interface asks the partner or administrator questions to determine what features a customer may want to utilize. Among other things, the planning tool will estimate the amount of bandwidth a customer may need for a WAN based on what features they may be using.

More than 400 UC partners are engaged in Microsoft's readiness activities to prepare for the launch of the software, according to Microsoft. Microsoft also has nearly three-dozen partners with pre-release versions of hardware, software and services ready for Lync.

About the Authors

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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