Lync 2010 is great. It takes communication to the next level by consolidating widely used modality options into a single, simple to use platform. Most of the features are robust and well thought out and just work. Take IM for instance. IM is the oldest feature in Lync and its roots go back to Exchange 2000 with Live Messenger. It has survived all that time in the private network. While in the public domain we had MSN Messenger. After that, both products went through various changes eventually bringing in video, application and desktop sharing. We had LCS, fairly good, OCS, better, but still just an IM tool with a bit added. Then they added voice with R2. Then Lync came out. Lync, for me, was a game changer. A revelation. I immediately saw the benefits of Lync in a corporate environment. I saw it replacing various disparate systems and expensive third party tools enabling conferencing and collaboration. Knowing roughly how expensive these third party 'sharing' applications from companies whose names I won't mention I could easily start to calculate that there could be ROI for just that one feature. Also knowing how un-intuitive these applications can be for all but fairly IT savvy staff I could begin to see that because Lync made it almost impossibly easy to do the same thing that people would actually use it. There's more ROI to be had by having Lync. Financially the obvious benefits are not having to send people around the world for face to face chats or presentations when the whole presentation and even collaboration can be done from anywhere. A user can now IM, talk to, see and share content with anyone in the workforce or beyond with only a few clicks. Users can work from anywhere with an internet connection, i used to say, as though they were at their desks. What is a desk? Just a familiar, comfortable work space that enables productivity. For some that might be in a cafe, or a park or in their home office. It doesn't matter. As long as they are productive. Lync makes this all possible. I said to myself, everyone should have this.
I have been a user of Microsoft's communication platforms since the early days. Corporate IM is the thing I use most. It's like having a phone call that I can refer back to at any time. Email is fine for certain things. But if I want an answer now I would rather not send an email and then have to wait for a reply.
Above that I host and attend a lot of online meetings. Viewing and sharing a lot of online content. Desktop sharing is another thing I use a lot. Someone might call me and ask me how to do something. I could stop what I'm doing and walk over, but now I just say share your desktop, take control and show them there and then.
Now onto Enterprise voice. I had to ask myself, why in the world would Microsoft suddenly be interested in making telephone systems? There are so many other vendors out there with decades of experience. The answer I came up with was that because others had something they didn't. But more importantly is that it is a modality that just fits nicely with the rest of what it can do. Lync 2010 is the second version of their telephone system. And I have to say it isn't bad. They have taken what all of the other vendors have been doing for years and made a system that can do almost everything theirs can do. I won't tell you for a second that it is perfect. It is missing some pretty key and somewhat basic thinks that the others have and have had for years. I have said it before in other forums that if Microsoft can just listen to the public and add those missing features it will be unstoppable.
So, what do I love about Lync? That it makes the world smaller.