Preview of the new Lync client on Windows 8

A while back I received a copy of the Windows 8 developer preview install. One of the first things I was interested to see was how my beloved Lync would perform on the new platform. Here are some screenshots of my findings and perhaps a preview of things to come.The setup being used was a Remote desktop connected to a Hyper-V VM. First, I copied the Lync installer to the desktop.

Once copied, I ran the installer which ran without any problems or unexpected configuration issues. Once installed, Lync Started and signed in, in the ‘desktop' mode. Everything was pretty much the same, but with a slightly different windows chrome.

In the Windows 8 desktop mode, there is no start menu. The way to Launch apps is now the via the ‘Start Screen.'

To the right of the start screen, I discovered three new ‘tiles'/icons.

I could then move the Lync icon around the screen.

While in the ‘start screen' I tried to send an IM from another system to the Windows 8 client but I didn't get any toast or alert. When you clicked on the tile, you were dropped back into the desktop mode. I tried to send another IM from the other system, while Lync was open in the desktop mode and this time a toast was sent.

Another new feature is the display of the Lync window(s) under their respective icons.

A friend, Dustin Hannifin who has also been working with the Windows 8 Preview, pointed out another handy integrated feature. The Windows 8 global spell check works in the Lync client.

So no big surprises, the Lync client works as I think any other legacy/current app will work (remember its pre-beta and subject to change), which for Lync in particular isn't very practical. I'm sure in time we will see someone write a "Windows 8" style UI for Lync. The new UI would be able to take advantage of the new style and development tools for Windows 8. I also expect the next version of Lync will take advantage of things like the Live tiles and lock screen notifications to really maximise the experience on windows 8, particularly for touch. The integrated global spell check is a nice addition though.

My belief is that we are likely to see some of these improvements at Windows 8 launch or an interim version. At the time of writing there are several hundred jobs being advertised for Lync engineers and related product and marketing positions and another several hundred openings for Skype engineers on the Microsoft job site, so the company must be investing a lot of time and resource in the Lync architecture. I think that we might see some kind of integration between Lync and Skype, and Windows 8 may be the best platform for Microsoft to begin integration between its Skype and Lync offerings.