WOOF! Newsletter

May 07, 2015

Introducing Skype for Business: Microsoft's Universal Communications Platform

Skype for Business 2015 is replacing Lync Server 2013. A new client look & feel, Skype connectivity, and new calling features for users. But what's Microsoft's goal with the new version? Every communications tool you'd need, no matter where you are.
Many small businesses use Skype as a low-cost phone & messaging system. It gives you decent calls, useful IM, and even video calls when desired.

Now Microsoft is giving Skype a major upgrade to compete with enterprise VoIP solutions. Skype for Business 2015 is here.

What is Skype for Business 2015?

Microsoft combined Skype (which it bought in 2011) with Lync Server 2013, its server-based Unified Communications system. The result is a complete set of communications tools, suitable for everyone from the small business to enterprises like Humana.

In case you don’t follow our Lync Insider blog (and if not, now’s a good time to start!), Lync Server 2013’s feature set includes:
  • Instant Messaging (IM)
  • Presence Status
  • Video Conferencing
  • Online Meetings
  • Phone calls, internally and externally
  • Chat Rooms
  • Voicemail
  • Integration with Outlook & SharePoint
Now as Skype for Business, Microsoft has added to the list:
  • New Skype-like client
  • Integration with the Skype Directory (and its 300 million users!)
  • Stronger integration into all Office products, including Office 365
  • Calling features: the Call Monitor tool familiar to many Skype users, & Call Via Work for connecting calls out through the office phone
Skype for Business will also replace the cloud version of Lync, Office 365’s Lync Online.

Rollout is already underway. Office 2013 users received the new Skype for Business client in an update on April 14. The transition from Lync Online to Skype for Business Online will complete by the end of May. Skype for Business 2015 Server released on May 1.

What’s the Goal?

Combining Lync & Skype (two very different software platforms) into one, was a huge undertaking. Why go through with it at all? What’s Microsoft aiming for with Skype for Business?

Looks like the answer is a Universal Communications Platform.

Calls, meetings and messaging on all devices. Desktops. Phones. Tablets. Locally and through the cloud. The Skype for Business ecosystem covers them all.
  1. In Offices/Datacenters: Skype for Business Server
  2. Cloud-Based Communications: Skype for Business Online
  3. Consumer Conversations: Skype (Personal Edition)
  4. Mobile: Skype App & Skype for Business App
One platform for all audiences. Anywhere you could make a business call or hold an online meeting, you can use Skype for Business.

Major Benefits to Business Users

When Microsoft bought Skype 4 years ago, consumers and businesses alike assumed the worst. We thought Skype would be shut down, or changed into something totally different.

Now, it turns out those worries were unfounded. Building Skype’s functionality into Lync Server yielded a software product helpful to businesses, as well as consumers.
  • Business users can now talk with customers & colleagues who use Skype.
  • The cost of making calls goes down further, since businesses can build a phone system directly into their office.
  • Use any communication tool you prefer at the time – meetings, phone calls, IM, chat.
  • No need for third-party conferencing software anymore.
  • Need a quick answer from a co-worker? Start a conversation whenever & wherever you want—from within Outlook, OneNote, even Word.

Lync Server Users Can Test out Skype for Business Now

Some of you use Lync Server 2013 now. If so, the April 14 Microsoft Update contains your new Skype for Business client.

Want to try it out? Ask your systems administrator (or call us) to activate the new client. It works with Lync Server 2013. You can familiarize yourself with the new interface right away.

Unless you’re a Skype user already, in which case it will look very familiar!

You’ll need to upgrade to Skype for Business Server for the full capabilities though. For example, talking directly with Skype users.

As Skype for Business spreads across the business world, companies will gain more communications tools, with the ease of use Skype is known for.

If you want to hear more about Skype for Business, subscribe to our Lync Insider Blog. We’ll keep you up to date on what happens with Microsoft’s universal communications platform.

Related Articles:
Skype for Business Begins Worldwide Rollout, Replacing Lync – WinBeta (4-14-15)
Lync is Now Skype for Business: See What's New – Office.com Support
Microsoft Rolls Out Skype for Business to Replace Lync – CIO Today (4-14-15)
Microsoft to Roll Out Skype for Business Products in April – RedmondMag.com (3-18-15)