Skype for Business: This Isn't Your Grandmother's Skype...

5/6/15 11:20 AM Melissa Kane

Skype_for_Business

Whether it was connecting with your son or daughter in college or checking in on your grandmother on the West Coast, chances are you’ve had some experience with using Skype. Microsoft is counting on that familiarity now as it rolls out Skype for Business, the next generation of Lync.

 

On April 14, 2015, Microsoft officially launched Skype for Business. Touted as a “hosted communications service that connects people anytime and from virtually anywhere,” the application was launched to replace Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Lync Online.

We know what you’re thinking. “I just got used to using Lync, and they’re changing it again?” The good news is Skype for Business is built on the internationally recognized Skype platform. Businesses making the switch will enjoy a familiar (and simple) interface with features that Skype is known for such as clear video calling, instant messaging, and the ability to share files over IM.

“It’s really the best of Skype and Lync,” said BJ Haberkorn of Microsoft’s Skype team in a video interview on Office Mechanics. “We’re taking advantage of the familiarity of hundreds of millions of people how use Skype every month, to make Skype for business really easy to adopt.”

So What IS Changing?

Skype for business maintains a lot of the essential features of Microsoft Lync including the Quick Actions buttons, which allow for one click IMs or calls to your contact list. Microsoft has assured that users will still experience the same enterprise security, compliance and control of Lync. Here is a breakdown of what is changing across platforms.

  • Lync 2013 branding will become Skype for Business
  • The Lync admin center is now the Skype for Business admin center
  • Lync Web app will be called Skype for Business web app
  • The User Interface

Microsoft has given IT administrators the option to delay the rollout of Skype for Business for those using Microsoft Lync internally. Users who are currently on Microsoft Lync Online (as part of Office 365) will have a seamless transition to Skype for Business.

Some Notable New Features

Skype for Business offers a user-friendly interface that Microsoft hopes will be even more embraced than its predecessor. But we’re not just talking about the Skype that allows us to see our overseas loved ones or check in on the dog sitter and Fifi – Skype for Business introduces some additional features that ultimately enable ease of collaboration and productivity in the workplace. For example: 

  • Fast Action Menu – users can click on a contact from their contact list and select a variety of actions such as to make a video call, voice call, or send an instant message with one click.
  • Enhanced File and Desktop Sharing – users can control which monitor/desktop they want to share from right within the Skype menu. Additionally, users can drag and drop files right into an instant message to share, complete with a preview of the file type, name, and size as well as the download progress.
  • Integration with OneNote – for users who use OneNote, they can open the application right from within a meeting on Skype for Business to start taking notes, and Skype for Business syncs information of who was a part of the meeting right within the OneNote notepad.

For a visual of these features and more, check out the video demonstration here:

Future Plans

Microsoft announced during the Ignite IT Pro Conference in Chicago that they plan to include a new feature in Skype for Business that will allow companies to broadcast their online meetings up to 10,000 people at one time. Windows Central reported that the new feature will use Azure Media Services for steaming audio, video, and PowerPoint presentations.  Microsoft did not set a hard date for the debut of this feature, but we have a feeling that it will be in high demand – especially from organizations who have multiple locations across the world or employees who telecommute on a regular basis, and want to have unified company meetings.

As a Microsoft Regional Cloud Partner of the Year, iCorps Technologies can help you understand the benefits and implementation of Skype for Business and the rest of the Office 365 applications for your business's bottom line. Click here to learn more about O365.  

 

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