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Lync Mobile Apps Still on Tap for Q4

Looks like the long and frustrating wait for official Microsoft Lync mobile apps for multiple smartphone platforms may finally be coming to an end.

Late last year, Microsoft said it was working on mobile Lync apps for the Apple iPhone and collaborating with RIM for a BlackBerry version, along with working on an app for Windows Phone. All of the apps were supposed to come in calendar 2011.

What happened inside the black box of Redmond is hard to say. Strategy tax arguments? Confusion over how Skype would fit into the picture? Unintended technical hurdles? In any case, Microsoft declared over the summer that Lync mobile apps would be arriving in the fourth quarter for Windows Phone, Android, iOS and Symbian smartphones.

Earlier this month, the official Microsoft Australia (MSAU) Twitter account confirmed that the apps would be coming in the next four weeks, an indication that the apps should squeak in under that self-imposed deadline.

The precise Tweet took the form of confirming another user's message. On Nov. 22, MSAU posted the message: "Confirmed RT @gh8421: So apparently Microsoft Lync is coming to #WP7, #Android, #BB & #iDevices in the next 4 weeks."

According to a Microsoft FAQ (which doesn't state delivery dates), the mobile clients for Lync will be developed by Microsoft, smartphone vendors or development partners: "Microsoft-developed Lync clients will be available for Windows Phone 7 and iPhone, jointly developed clients will be available for Nokia phones, and partner-developed clients will be available for other smartphone platforms."

As for what the clients will do, Microsoft's FAQ says mobile client users will be able to

  • view colleagues' availability;
  • initiate instant messaging, e-mail or phone calls;
  • provide status updates;
  • connect to conferences with a single click;
  • use a single phone number across a desk phone, PC and mobile phone;
  • and benefit from several built-in security features.

I'd be careful about assuming that all that functionality will be available on the first rev. It may be, but Microsoft is fostering an information-poor environment here. There's also the possibility that Microsoft will take a Windows Phone-first approach -- not in terms of time, apparently, but in features.

Will the Windows Phone version have more features available than other versions? We'll see next month -- that is, if Microsoft hits this latest timeline.

Posted by Scott Bekker on November 30, 2011 at 11:58 AM