Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Microsoft Lync, the next generation of communications that connects people in new ways.

Go to www.lync.com and download a free trial version (business customers can purchase Lync beginning Dec. 1).

What is Lync

Lync is a single platform that integrates instant messaging, presence, audio, video, web conferencing and voice to bring people together in the ways they communicate best, with one interface that works with the applications businesses know and use today, including Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange.

To put it plainly for those familiar with Microsoft products – Lync is the new family brand for the products formerly known as Microsoft Communications Server, Microsoft Office Communications Online and Microsoft Office Communicator

“Lync delivers on our vision to unify all of the modes of modern business communication, giving people a more collaborative, ‘in person’ experience with features like HD video, conference recording, and social features like status updates and activity feeds,” said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Lync & Speech Group. “In addition to transforming how people communicate, IT departments are also looking to Lync to evolve their infrastructure and enhance or eliminate their traditional PBX systems, saving money and saving time.”

Microsoft recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact study that found that for a composite organization Lync 2010 offers a risk-adjusted ROI of 337 percent, including $6.35 million in hard cost savings over three years, with a payback period of 12 months.

Choice and Value With Partner Solutions

Today, more than 70 new devices optimized for Lync, including a variety of IP phones, headsets, speakerphones and webcams, are being announced by Polycom Inc., Aastra Technologies Ltd. and other device partners.

Polycom is announcing the industry’s first telepresence solution designed to interoperate with Lync, through the Polycom HDX Series and Polycom UC Intelligent Core. Both solutions enable individuals and groups to collaborate naturally and effortlessly across any distance.

In addition, more than 30 partners are launching applications on the Lync platform for public and private organizations of all types and sizes. Solutions include contact centers, call recording, accounting, performance monitoring services and new applications that embed communications within business processes. Partners include Aspect Software Inc., Convergent Media Systems Corp., ProtonMedia Inc. and Wortell.

Video Demo

Listen as Mr. Microsoft himself, Bill Gates, discusses how Lync builds off his vision to use software to improve the way people communicate.

Product Availability

Microsoft Lync 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server 2010 will be available for businesses of all sizes to purchase on Dec. 1, 2010. Microsoft Lync Online will be available as part of Office 365, with voice capabilities available in 2011. Lync Online will include instant messaging, presence, audio and video conferencing, and PC-to-PC voice calls.