Lync: Great Idea, but it Still Needs Some Time to Mature…

lync-logoI went wine tasting in Woodinville last week.  I discovered that the Washington wine industry is on fire: seemingly dozens of wineries have sprung up over the past few years.

While most agree Washington will be huge for wine in the coming years and decades, it’s clear that there’s a big range in quality right now: some wineries have lofty aspirations (and have invested millions) but the wines just aren’t ready yet.

Take for instance a major winery working in conjunction with experts in Italian wine- no expense has been spared building & managing the vineyards.  But the wines aren’t done; they need a few more years before they’re really world class.  Even so, they’re selling the wines as if they are “spectacular” (they aren’t.)

Microsoft tends to do this type of thing as well: many of their core products have taken years to get right.  It took many generations of money & code to get Outlook to be reasonably stable (finally achieved in the mid-2000s) even though everyone was already using it for everything.

Similarly, Lync has the same problem.

Lync is Microsoft’s unified messaging solution–on paper it looks truly spectacular.  It combines voice/phone, videoconferencing, screen sharing, whiteboarding, instant messaging and a host of other collaboration tools into one single product.  It has clients available for Windows, OS X, and many mobile devices.  But while it tries to be a jack of all trades it is a master of none.

Crashes, lost messages, day-long outages on Microsoft’s Lync Online service, problems with video drivers, weird conflicts with antivirus software, issues connecting to the service and difficulties with voice calls and even Outlook integration problems are some of the common problems we hear about Lync.  These issues pop up often and we’ve seen them ourselves.  Yet, we keep hearing of companies dumping their traditional phone systems in order to switch to Lync. (!)  Clearly Microsoft’s marketing is powerful.

I’m here to tell you that Lync is a great idea.  It will eventually be a great tool.  But right now, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

Don’t get me wrong – currently, we think Lync is a relatively useful IM & file transfer tool (and it comes with most editions of Office365 anyways as a “value add”) so it has some utility.  And no other vendor has anything available that matches Lync’s enterprise capabilities.  But if you’re looking for more reliable communications tools please let us know: we can help steer you in the right direction.

Lync is often bundled as part of Office365.  We are very happy to sell you Office365 right now because it’s a good value and addresses many business needs.  All of the other Office365 components are ready to go now.  But we expect Lync to mature in about 3-5 years.  Until then don’t bet the farm on Lync: consider other options for business-critical communications.