A common theme emerging amongst Microsoft products & services is the differentiation between the consumer branding and business-grade branding.

Some big examples are:

Consumer

Business

Windows 8

Windows 8 Pro

Office 365 Home Premium

Office 365 Pro Plus

SkyDrive

SkyDrive Pro

Surface RT

Surface Pro

 

While some of these are not really new the rationalisation and simplification of brands is in full swing at Microsoft.

The prime objectives come from the consumerisation of IT – encourage the consumer to bring the technology into the workplace so the corporation pays for the business version of the product. This has some parallels or could even be seen as building on the freemium model.

So where does Skype sit? It is now and always has been a free service. If you want to unlock business-like features such a group video conferencing, voicemail and others then you need to pay. Some of these business services mirror functionality currently available in Lync (be it Server or Online).

Earlier this year the Lync product was moved under the Skype Division at Microsoft to align the products closer given their somewhat similar feature set.

Over the past few months we’ve also seen some changes to the Lync Online offering as part of Office 365 – the Lync Hybrid Voice model was depreciated only 3 months out of the gate, and the Lync-to-Phone has also been discontinued. Microsoft’s reasoning for these two actions was due to low customer demand and also a concern for the quality of solutions implemented.

My prediction is that as Microsoft moves to be more of a “devices and services” company it will be able to offer telco services as part of its approach to encompass customers with its product stack.

Will we see Lync re-branded as Skype Pro? Will Lync Server get re-branded as Skype Server?

There’s a while to go and nothing is really being released out of the Microsoft camp in terms of roadmaps, but it does make sense. Skype has a much stronger branding both in consumer and business worlds, why not use it?

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