In his speech at the Microsoft Partner Conference this morning, Steve Ballmer gave a little more explanation of how Skype will fit into Microsoft’s business communications product, Lync.
He basically described it as a bridge between Lync — which is mostly used for internal messaging within companies — and the outside world. That’s pretty much what an insider told us about the Skype deal as well — it was largely about connecting Lync to the outside phone system.
As Ballmer put it:
Partners ask me “Does this mean you’re does this mean you’re not as serious about Lync?” Quite to the contrary. One of the great motivations in acquiring Skype was enabling the enterprise to have as much control as it wants through Active Directory and Lync, but also making it easier to connect enterprises to consumers and business partners around the world.
(Active Directory is the Microsoft product for storing identity information about employees, and can be used to control access to corporate apps like Lync.)
Ballmer also said that Lync is the fastest-growing Microsoft product, although some of that growth may be driven by companies buying licenses as part of larger bundles to get a price break on other products.
Ballmer and other Microsoft execs also shared some other interesting tidbits during the speech:
- Windows 8 will support Windows 7 hardware and software. Microsoft has said this before, but Windows marketing chief Tami Reller made the promise pretty explicit: “The hardware you’re making today will be able to take advantage of Windows 8 tomorrow.” She also said that any software that runs on Windows 7 will be able to run on Windows 8.
- Dynamics is making big profits. Dynamics ERP and CRM software is now more than $1 billion in annual sales with “hundreds of millions” in annual profits. That’s a far cry from the $10 billion business Microsoft envisioned when it bought Great Plains and Navision earlier this decade, but at least it’s not a drain on the bottom line.
- Microsoft will roll out a cloud-based ERP service. Dynamics Navision, one of the company’s ERP software products, will be available as an online service early next year.
- Bing is coming to businesses. Ballmer didn’t give many details here, but said “Bing is probably the Microsoft product or service that our partners spend the least amount of time with now. That will change over next few years. We’re thinking about architecture that will allow us to open Bing up over time to be more of a platform.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said that Microsoft is launching a new music service called Xbox Music this fall. This is wrong. Users (in some geographies) can already access 11 million songs on the Zune Marketplace via Xbox Live, and this service is not changing. What’s coming this fall is voice commands through Kinect, and the way to get that music is to say “Xbox. Music.” So that’s the command, not a new name service.