> Many Messengers....

Many Messengers....

Posted on Saturday, August 18, 2012 | No Comments

I’m getting confused by Skype and Microsoft’s various ‘chat’ and instant messenger platforms. 

‘Messenger’ (formerly ‘Live Messenger’ which was formerly ‘MSN Messenger’), seemed to be the IM platform of record for everything Microsoft and the work they undertook to bring “Facebook Chat” into this platform seemed to be a stroke of genius as Messenger users signed up and moved to the social networking site for their chat fix.

Windows 8 has a built-in, seemingly cut down version of ‘Messenger’ which allows a IM and Facebook Chat integration without having to switch to the full blown desktop client.  Video chat and file sharing and many of the advanced features are missing from this version, as you might expect.  This cut down version also appears in the new Outlook.com.

‘Lync’ (formerly ‘Communicator’), is the business/enterprise focused messenger, which allows everything from video conferencing, screen share (formerly ‘LiveMeeting’), collaboration tools and Outlook and Office applications integration.

And then, there’s Skype which seems to be creeping into all sorts of Microsoft products (which can only be expected from the acquisition), from Xbox, to Windows Phone, Office and Outlook.com for video conferencing.My confusion though stems from the fact that each of these systems (with the exception of Messenger and the cut down Windows 8 client), are all separate entities that don’t work with each other to allow a single, unified messaging system.
Screenshots have recently emerged of the new Windows 8 Skype client – which looks absolutely fantastic and looks like something I could potentially use.  Putting Lync to one side, the only problem is that all of my contacts are either in Messenger or Facebook Chat!

It’s my hope that by using Windows 8’s “People Hub” and/or “Microsoft Account”, they are going to allow you to register multiple accounts (Messenger, Facebook, Skype), and link them together into a single interface/application that can then be used from Windows, Xbox, Windows Phone, etc., similar to how multiple email accounts, Twitter and other social network feeds are amalgamated together into a single view.
Lync
At work, I’ve recently started using Lync for IM and screen sharing with 3rd parties for support and I have to admit that I’ve been really impressed with its functionality.  I (very), briefly used Communicator before it and noticed that some of the file sharing functions have been removed for some reason, but other than that, it remains a great product.
Again though, I’m a little confused at the lack of scope the service offers.  I understand the Lync is for internal communications with your co-workers, but I haven’t been able to fathom given the social world we now live in and the popularity of LinkedIn for collaboration and connectivity, why Lync doesn’t allow you link and expand your professional network?
I’m not an administrator or expert in Lync, so such features may already be available for configuration, but why not allow Lync to connect to your Facebook, LinkedIn, social network feeds and/or simply other domains of partnering companies, i.e. allowing @contoso.com users to communicate with @northwinds.com users, whilst blocking personal contacts owning @hotmail.com addresses for example.
Summary
Microsoft’s IM approach is scattered across multiple platforms right now – and whilst I can see exactly where each of these platforms fits into the overall eco-systems of corporate communications, consumer products and video conferencing, in today’s ever connected and ‘always available’ mentality bringing all of these services together would be a huge win.
Being able to also individually control your presence on each of these platforms would be an even bigger win; the control and ease of use should be built into all of these products for Microsoft to truly build a fantastic communications hub, regardless of application and/or device.
It’s simply a matter of doing it.  IM me when its done.

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