Late last year Microsoft announced the upcoming release of Skype for Business. The initial response was an expectation that it was really a re-branding so Microsoft could capitalize on the Skype name and investment. Now that a few months have passed and we’ve been able to see what the Skype for Business will look like, I want to point out a few features and changes.
The new Skype for Business client is out. Cosmetically, it’s not much different from the existing Lync 2013 client. They’ve corrected a few things and have prepared for the added functionality that the new server and tighter integration with Skype will provide. It also looks like it’ll be a little easier to use on “touch” style devices.
If you’re an Office 365 client, the Skype for Business client preview will work if you have the ability to download Office 2013 Pro Plus from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Download Center. The new client will work with Lync 2010, Lync Server 2013, Lync Online and Skype for Business Server. General availability should be sometime in April.
If you’re a Lync Online for Office 365 customer, Microsoft will automatically update the Lync online service to be Skype for Business Online.
The Skype for Business features will include:
- The full Lync feature set
- The Skype icons for calling and video
- A call monitor to keep active calls visible while switching between apps
- Enterprise connection with the Skype network for Instant Messaging, Audio and video
- Skype for Business mobile app
The new Skype for Business Server features include:
- SQL Server Always On support
- Native video interoperability service for select Cisco Tandberg VTCs
- Call via work PBX phone interoperability
- Improved support for hybrid scenarios with O365 including future auditorium style meetings
- Easy Lync Server 2013 to Skype for Business Server with no additional server hardware requirements
After review, I would say that Skype for Business is worth it. Our highly connected world is pushing for better connectivity and more ways to communicate and collaborate. Skype for Business is another step in the right direction.
Tim Krueger, PEI