If you are following technology news, you’ve probably seen all the big announcements about Lync and Skype at the end of 2014. These ones offer good insights with some Skype features for the consumer and Lync updates. We could also see some new features during Windows 10 Keynote, I will come back to this topic in another post.
Lync becomes Skype for Business
Announced on the 11th of November by Gurdeep Singh Pall, VP of division, Lync will become Skype for Business with the next version :
“In the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release and updates to the service in Office 365”
Microsoft continues to build “Universal Communications”: Skype for consumer and Skype for Business for the enterprise world. Skype for Business’s UX is close to Skype’s, with features optimized for professional use. Some are integrated in this new client, such as “Top-most” of “Call Monitor” conversation, already available in Skype for a long time. Despite the difference between these two worlds (User Experience, Security, etc. …). These two universes stay connected by federation, which have also advanced.
Lync and Skype Video Interoperability
Lync and Skype Interoperability has been available since May 2013, only for presence, IM and audio. We had expected video modality for a while, and now it is finally here.
First target is Windows Desktop Clients with Microsoft Account. Communication is secured and uses STUN, TURN and ICE mechanisms to go through firewalls as well as SILK and H264SVC codecs for audio and video.
Others platforms will come later with support for SkypeID
Official announcements :
Skype for Web Beta
On October 27th, Skype’s Blog announced the start of ORTC for WebRTC implementation in Internet Explorer. “Platform Status” webpage confirms:
But what is this?
ORTC API for WebRTC (Object Real-Time Communication) opens lots of opportunities for developers to create applications managing real time communications without a plugin. This open source project is supported by big actors like Microsoft as well as Google.
Can I get an example?
Almost two weeks after the first report, Microsoft launched Skype for Web Beta
User Experience is easy: users connect to Skype.com and get a skype desktop-like environment with the same features: presence, im, audio and video. They are able to communicate with their contacts without the need to install full skype software. For now, audio and video require a plugin but in the future with WebRTC, a plugin will not be necessary.
I want to finish with an amazing new future component of Skype: Skype Translator. As its name suggests, this feature nearly translates in real-time Skype conversations in im and audio.
Supposing that you are talking with someone who is on the other side of the world, and who doesn’t speak your language, you will not have any problem understanding each other. The language barrier no longer exist, great!
Microsoft published a video which demonstrate the concept:
The process is based on an A.I. agent (so the conversation has 3 attendees) who translates in real-time and becomes smarter day by day because it is learning all the expressions and accents. Actually, all this technology comes from Microsoft Research Labs: machine learning (available in Azure), speech recognition and automatic translation. I suggest you read this post “Skype Translator – How it works” on Skype Blog and download this poster which describes the steps:
The Beta version is only available in English and Spanish currently. You can sign in, specify your preferences and be one of the first to test.
This year will be very interesting for Universal Communications at Microsoft!