With Lync, Microsoft lowers price of Office Communications Server

Microsoft has announced the costs for the client access licenses for Lync Server

Microsoft has announced that enterprise client access licenses (CAL) for Lync Server will cost $107, a price cut of $32 per user over the previous version of Microsoft's communications software.

Earlier this month, Microsoft unveiled a preview version of Lync Server, which will replace Office Communications Server 2007, and said the finished product will be ready before the end of 2010.

Now Microsoft has set up a pricing page which shows that Lync licenses will generally cost about the same as Office Communications Server. The one difference is that the enterprise and "Plus" CALs will cost $107 each, compared to $139 each for the equivalent OCS enterprise CAL license.

CALs are required for each user or device accessing a Lync server. Typically, it's best to buy CALs on a per-user basis, says Cynthia Farren, a Microsoft licensing expert who runs an IT consulting firm. "In this day and age of multiple devices per user, it typically makes the most sense [to license] per user," she says. But there are still cases when it is cheaper to buy licenses on a per-device basis, she adds.

The standard CALs will cost $31 each, identical to the OCS price for a standard user license. Server licensing is also unchanged – Microsoft will charge $699 for a Lync standard server license and $3,999 for an enterprise server license, just as they did with Office Communications Server 2007. The enterprise edition will allow higher capacity and higher availability through load balancing.

In addition to server and CAL licenses, customers will have to purchase client software known as "Lync 2010," which allows client devices to interact with the Lync server. It will be available as a standalone product or as part of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010. Microsoft did not detail pricing of the client software.

OCS 2007 customers that have purchased Software Assurance, which guarantees access to new software releases, will receive license migration rights allowing them to upgrade to Lync Server 2010.

A hosted cloud-based version of Lync is also in the works, but Microsoft hasn't yet said when that will become available.

As Microsoft clears the way for Lync to become its primary VoIP platform, the company has stopped selling the Response Point phone system, and bolstered partnerships with Polycom and others to sell devices optimized for Microsoft's unified communications software.

Microsoft has been talking about Lync all year long, although it was previously referred to as "Communications Server 14." The software is being positioned as a platform to help customers move off PBX systems, and integrates with widely used Microsoft software such as SharePoint, Exchange and Office.

Lync Server will include instant messaging; presence; voice and video calling; and audio, video and web conferencing.

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