The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is next week in Los Angeles. I’m sure there will be extreme interest in the Skype deal and whether Microsoft will have something more to say about it, especially given the recent announcement that the FTC has approved it.
I see people writing that the main deal driver is to improve Microsoft’s position in the mobile arena, given Skype can work on iPhones and iPads (I’ve seen people in airports holding an iPad to their ears because of Skype!) and Android devices. And while I’m sure that is an important element, I believe that this deal is really about Microsoft extending its enterprise communications presence.
Right now, my company uses OCS regularly for internal communications. We even have internal conference calls on it. It works, it’s integrated with Exchange (the benefits of which we likely take for granted), and it’s easy to use. However, it’s a bit different when we need to make outside calls. Many of my colleagues have both Skype and OCS loaded on their computers. OCS we use internally, and Skype we use externally, especially with customers and partners in other countries. Why? All of these people use Skype and so it’s just easier than federating in to a service that may or may not be supported with OCS (Lync). This is right in line with the report that Skype was 20% of all International minutes in 2010. That’s how we use it in a business environment.
Marrying these two together makes perfect sense as there can potentially be one internal and external version for corporations to use. To me, the mobile angle is really about the ongoing natural extension of the enterprise to your iPad or iPhone anyway, with or without Skype. With the ability to make IP business phone calls or video calls or IM to your mobile device now through Skype, it simply makes the extension of the enterprise more “natural” now for Microsoft. Effectively, the definition of the enterprise is now bigger for them.