When Microsoft announced the acquisition of Skype back in 2011, many in the industry asked questions around how Microsoft would integrate Skype into their enterprise products SKUs. Today, April 14, 2015, Microsoft has answered those questions with the launch of Skype for Business. As first indicated late last year, Skype for Business comes to market with Microsoft’s “better together” message, empowering users with professional collaboration integrated across the Office suite.
Skype for Business boasts a rich feature set allowing many advanced enhancements designed to make collaboration easier including whiteboards, application sharing and desktop sharing. The differences between the standard Skype product and Skype for Business are considerable, with the latter offering a boost on connected colleagues in a call to 250 from the standard 25. Furthermore, users don’t have to be on Skype for Business in order to participate in a call or presentation; only access to a landline or Internet connection is required. This is a welcome change to anyone who has attempted to get on a call at the last minute only to realize that they did not have the required software downloaded.
Skype for Business also includes productivity enhancements into Microsoft Office, such as viewing the online status of your contacts, schedule meetings in Outlook, and start conversations from apps like Word and PowerPoint. Those who have enjoyed some of this functionality within SharePoint will find the same user experience with this powerful integration. Teams who work together to complete documents or tasks will find this particularly useful.
With today’s release, Microsoft has advised customers using Lync Online with Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Business Premium or Office 2013 that the updated Skype for Business client, inspired by the look and feel of Skype, will be the default user experience and this new Skype experience will replace the Lync user experience. If you are using Lync Server today, the Lync UI will be the default experience.
Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how Skype for Business changes the demands for communication and responsiveness within organizations. As someone who has been singing the virtues of collaborative technology for many years, the release of Skype for Business makes today a great day!
You can read the official post about Skype for Business on the Office Blogs page here.