With such parity, more customers will consider Lync along with offerings from its competitors such as Avaya, Cisco, IBM, Siemens and others, which Turek says do better than Microsoft in video, social networking and collaboration with their UC&C platforms.
Last week, Microsoft highlighted what it considered the significant new capabilities, many of which other vendors have had for some time, Turek says. Matching them feature for feature, though, may not be most important to customers.
In reality, most businesses use what Turek calls best of breed for communications, messaging and collaboration, so they may use a mix of products from multiple vendors. With sizeable investments in PBXs and IPBXs, customers will be reluctant to rip and replace that gear. As a result, customers may do careful evaluation and delay decisions three to seven years as they wait for their existing infrastructure to live out its usefulness, she says.
Microsoft touts that Lync has an integrated suite of collaboration and messaging tools, but its competitors such as Avaya and Cisco recognize its popularity and also integrate with Microsoft offerings, Schoeller says. "If they buy into Microsoft's suite and there's more integration out of the box, that's good," he says. "I'm not going to say it's a dramatic advantage. It's an incremental not a dramatic improvement when you stay within the suite."
Even Microsoft admits this is so. If a customer decommissioned PBXs from another vendor and adopted Lync instead, the major advantage would be getting rid of the complexity of a multivendor network, not getting additional functionality through better integration, says Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft's information worker product management group.
Feature comparison among vendors' products may be off the point, Van Doren says. "I'd say don't worry about that so much," he says. "Disruptive products always look inferior if you compare them to traditional products because they're pushing out into new spaces."
For example, an office worker processing an insurance claim within a proprietary claims application might need expert help with part of the claim. Within that application a skill-search button could find someone with the right expertise who is also available, he says. "It's not a buddy list. You don't need a particular person, you need an expert. Presence will find the right person," he says.