How does the Microsoft Purchase of Skype Affect SMEs ?

James Passingham, owner and founder of ICT firm Foehn comments on how the Microsoft Purchase of Skype Affect SMEs

“So it’s official, after all the toing and froing and awkward silences, Microsoft has finally confirmed that it’s bought the internet phone giant Skype. Am I surprised? No. Do I think it’s a good move? Probably… but this all depends on what Microsoft wants to do with Skype and that’s a question no one knows the answer to just yet. Skype CEO Tony Bates has been quick to reassure businesses and consumers that their experiences and Skype’s capabilities won’t change, but the true impact this will have on SMEs like us, still isn’t known.

My guess is that Microsoft will want to integrate their unified communications platform Lync (formerly known as OCS) with Skype. If this were the case, Skype’s strong brand awareness with SMEs could catapult Lync into the SME market where it’s relatively unknown and seen as complicated and expensive. And it wouldn’t be a bad move. Not only would a marriage increase brand awareness of Microsoft’s collaboration platform, but with many SMEs still relying on traditional analogue, it would make the move over to VoIP easier and more cost effective for them. It could also give them access to some of the bells and whistles of VoIP PBX services like call queuing or voice and touch tone interaction. So it undoubtedly has the potential to be a very powerful combination for SMEs and one that could finally make unified communications a reality.

But what would this mean for the traditional telephony vendors? Will we still be able to integrate telephony platforms from Avaya business communications or the open source Asterisk software with the Skype protocol?

Or will SMEs wanting to make use of Skype have to use ‘everything Microsoft’ to do so? Who knows? I along with many other SMEs will be watching as the answers are revealed over the next few days, weeks and months.”