Today AT&T announced that it will add Microsoft’s Lync enterprise communications tool to its Unified Communications service. The move is a coup for Lync, as it presents an opportunity for the platform to greatly expand its market reach.

Lync, one of two communication products that Microsoft vends, provides video chat, messaging, voice calls, and screen sharing to large corporations; it has the internal security that big companies demand, while consumers are likely content with Skype and its more friendly interface.

Lync recently found a new home in the Office 365 for Business products. Microsoft appears to be full-steam ahead in baking the product into every business-facing service that it can. Lync has been performing admirably for its parent, growing at rates that Microsoft is more than happy to remind you are large, and impressive.

Customers of AT&T can run Lync on-premises, or allow AT&T to host the service for them. Interestingly, AT&T will happily vend you Office 365, which includes Lync. The value proposition that AT&T brings to delivering this sort of service is that it operates a massive global IP network; running applications on its fiber could be among the fastest ways to do so.

I bring you the above news as it underscores the answer to a question that has existed since Microsoft bought Skype: Where does Lync fit into the future of communications at Microsoft?  Honing and harmonizing its products and services will take Microsoft another half decade, and supporting both Skype and Lync – despite their newly joined engineering teams – may seem superflous. However, if Skype continues to grow its consumer market share, and Lync its enterprise revenues, Microsoft will likely tolerate the redundancy.

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