As great as Lync is, you will run into plenty of partners, vendors, and customers who don't use it. Skype, on the other hand, is a very popular and free communications tool--and Microsoft owns that as well. Lync has always provided the option to integrate and communicate with Windows Live Messenger, but Microsoft is phasing that platform out and driving users over to Skype instead. Lync 2013 extends communications to Skype with presence, instant messaging, and voice capabilities.
5. Office 365
Small and medium businesses--or even larger businesses for that matter--can take advantage of Lync 2013 as a function of the new Office 365 offering. Lync is not part of the standard Office 365 Home Premium service, but for $150 per user per year the Office 365 Small Business Premium offering includes Lync, as well as Exchange and SharePoint hosted and supported by Microsoft so you don't have to invest in or manage the backend server infrastructure yourself.
The Office 365 element is arguably the most compelling aspect of Lync 2013. There are other video conferencing solutions, like Cisco Webex or Citrix GoToMeeting, but they can be costly and only provide the video conferencing piece. Office 365 makes sense for most business customers, and the addition of Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint for only $50 per user per year more make it an even greater value.
Microsoft has also made some substantial improvements in the look and feel of Lync 2013--making it easier to facilitate Lync Meetings, and presenting a cleaner, more intuitive interface for users. For some businesses, Skype alone may be enough, but businesses that want more robust, comprehensive communication tools should take a look at what Lync 2013 has to offer.