Microsoft announces Lync, new Office Communications Server

Microsoft said on Monday that it has made a release candidate build of Lync available, the next generation of the company's unified communications software.

Known previously as Communications Server, Communications Online and Communicator, the new Lync branding brings together the products and now includes Lync Web App, and Lync Online. Lync 2010 unifies enterprise voice, instant messaging and web, audio and video conference – all within the same user experience and back-end infrastructure.

Microsoft first demonstrated its next generation Office Communicator in June this year. Microsoft Lync 2010 contains several new features including activity feeds, contact card changes and 720p HD webcam video over Lync. Office Communications Server (now rebranded Microsoft Lync Server 2010) is used at large businesses and corporations for employee internal instant messaging. It's the business version of Microsoft's popular Windows Live Messenger. New improvements include:

  • Location services integration - users location can be auto detected from the subnet where the user is wired or the nearest wireless access point. Users can also set custom locations.
  • Activity feeds - Users can update their status and have the status displayed in the contact list.
  • Dial Pad - Option to use dial pad interface for calls. Users can dial by name or click to call others from their contact lists. Voicemail messages are also available from the dialing tab.
  • Voice Mail improvements - Voice mail is now recorded and transcribed to text in real time.
  • Device Selection - Users can select their audio device directly from the Microsoft Communicator interface
  • Simultaneous Ring - Users can forward inbound calls to specific numbers, straight to voice mail or ring at multiple numbers simultaneously.
  • Contextual calls in real time - Users can enter a subject immedialy before placing a call allowing recipients to see the call subject
  • Contact card changes- Newly designed contact card with just the basics similar to Outlook 2010 and an extended card to display full information from Active Directory.

Microsoft has made a release candidate available today and is expected to release a final edition later this year.

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