Connect Office 365 Lync for Mac to Skype

Microsoft announced Lync-Skype connectivity in late May on the Lync Team Blog. This connectivity bridged their Lync enterprise collaboration tool with their free Skype voice and messaging network.

Both applications share some overlap in features:

  • Instant message chat
  • Computer-to-computer voice calls
  • Computer-to-LAN line (telephone) calls
  • Computer-to-computer video calls
  • Conferencing

However, each application is targeted toward different audiences. Lync remains a business-focussed platform companies can maintain on their own network or with a hosting provider. Skype remains a Microsoft-controlled network that is publicly accessible.

Communication between the two systems is free but limited.

Enabling Lync-Skype connectivity

Connectivity between the two systems isn’t automatic but Microsoft has made enabling it easy for its Office 365 customers who have purchased Premium, Midsize or Enterprise E3 plans.

  1. An administrator needs to log in at http://login.microsoftonline.com.
  2. Choose Lync from the Admin menu.
    Lync menu item
  3. In the Lync Admin center click Organization and then click External Communications.
    External Communications
  4. Under External Access select On except for blocked domains or On only for allowed domains from the drop down menu. These settings really affect communications between other organizations using Lync. Either is required, though, to enable Skype connectivity.
  5. Under Public IM Connectivity select Turn on communication with Skype users and users of other public IM service providers.
    On Except For Blocked Domains
  6. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Enterprise administrators and administrators using hosted Lync services other than Office 365 will need to enable Federation and Public IM Connectivity (PIC) services according to Microsoft’s Provisioning Guide for Lync-Skype Connectivity: Lync Server 2013 and Lync Online document.

Connecting Lync users and Skype users

Skype accounts must use Microsoft IDs. Skype users with older accounts must first convert them to a Microsoft account if they haven’t already. Microsoft accounts use email addresses ending with:

  • @hotmail.com
  • @live.com
  • @outlook.com

To connect from Lync to Skype:

  1. Log in to an enterprise or Office 365 (Lync Online) account using Lync and enter the email address of the Skype user in the search field. Initially presence, the indication someone is available, busy or offline, is listed as Presence Unknown. This will change once the other party has allowed the connection.
    Search for a Skype user
  2. Tap the return key to begin a new message window and wait for the Skype user to confirm the connection. His presence will read Offline until he does.
    Wait for Connection
  3. If the Skype user is signed in then Skype notifies him of the connection request. He should click the Accept button to allow the request. Note the Lync user’s presence is listed as Offline.
    Skype user confirms
  4. After the Skype user accepts the connection Skype sends a reciprocal request to the Lync user asking to confirm the connection. Leave the default option Allow this person to see you when you are online and contact you selected. Optionally, leave enabled Add this person to my contact list. Click the OK button.
    Lync user confirms
  5. Once both parties have approved the connection the Lync and Skype applications will display the other user’s presence as Available (Lync):
    Lync user available
    or Online (Skype).
    Skype user online
  6. Skype contacts are automatically added to a Lync user’s Other Contacts group by default and will display the Skype icon to indicate the type of connection.
    Skype Indicator

Lync to Skype connectivity is currently limited in a few ways. It only supports voice calls, instant message chat and presence. Video calls are not available but are on the roadmap according to the Lync Team Blog. User pictures also don’t propagate between the systems. Lync for Mac users cannot currently edit their own pictures at all.

Microsoft has made no additional announcements for features such as file sharing, screen sharing and multiple chat options between the two platforms.

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