Tag Archives: skype

Connect with NYT best-selling authors Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver, and hundreds of writers for Skype in the Classroom’s Literacy Month |

Today is World Read Aloud Day, signaling the start of Skype in the Classroom’s month-long celebration of reading, writing and storytelling. We are proud to work with LitWorld and our global publishing partners, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Arbordale, Andersen Press, Candlewick and others to offer hundreds of free virtual visits from authors to classrooms. You can look up guest author information easily for Skype in the Classroom by checking our literacy collection.

To cap our month-long celebration this year, Microsoft is teaming up with Penguin Young Readers for a free broadcast event in which classrooms and families can meet actor, producer and author Henry Winkler, as well as his co-author, Lin Oliver. Together, they’re creators of the NYT best-selling book series, Here’s Hank, featuring the quick-witted and ingenious character, Hank Zipzer.

Henry and Lin will discuss their books and what makes every kid a hero while answering questions live on Twitter. The broadcast and live Twitter chat will on Wednesday February 28th at 9 a.m. EST and 1 p.m. EST.

Henry and Lin created their character, Hank Zipzer, based on Henry’s own real-life struggles with dyslexia. Hank is smart and resourceful, always finding ways to overcome challenges through friendships, determination, and a whole lot of humor. His story has resonated with kids around the world, providing some kinship and advice for those tougher times in school. Henry’s main message in the books, “Every one of you has greatness in you,” comes from his personal life experience. He proves that having learning challenges can’t keep you from greatness!

Teachers and their students, or parents with their children at home, are invited to register here and submit questions in advance or during the event for Henry and Lin to answer. We’ll be using the @skypeclassroom Twitter account and the #Skype2Learn hashtag to organize the conversation.

That’s not all for this celebratory month of reading and writing: Teachers around the world will also share their own Skype Collaborations related to literacy. Your class can join with others – across borders or close to home – to work on a writing project, share stories, and read aloud to one another. Cultivate World Literacy is just one example of many lessons devised by teachers.

This month we also celebrate the educators around the world who are using experiences like Skype in the Classroom and technologies like Microsoft Learning Tools to support literacy development. We will share and learn from their creativity and experience advancing the literacy skills of their students on the Microsoft Education Blog throughout the month.

One more thing: Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge has returned for 2018. Today, the search for five golden ticket winners begins. Students across the U.S. ,aged five to 12, are invited to submit 100-word stories for the chance to win prizes related to creative storytelling. Entries will be open for three months until 1st May 2018.

One golden ticket winner will see their story idea transformed into a Minecraft world, in partnership with Minecraft Education. They will be flown to Seattle with their parent or guardian and work with a team of Minecraft builders and Youtube creator Stacyplays, transforming their story idea into a playable Minecraft experience for anyone in the world to download and play.

Another golden ticket winner will be flown to Los Angeles and get to work with actor, producer, director and author Henry Winkler and his writing partner, Lin Oliver, to transform their story idea into their very own published short story. To enter, students simply submit their 100-word story idea at imaginormouschallenge.com.

We hope you’ll join us for this celebration of all the new and innovative ways children are being inspired to read and write. If you haven’t tried Skype to add inspiration and additional relevancy to your classroom’s curriculum, Literacy Month is a great time to start. With the hundreds of authors available to talk with your students and your Skype connections, you may just be witness to the next Hank Zipzer!

A full list of Penguin authors who visit classrooms virtually, for free over Skype, is available online.

OK, I’m in! How do I participate in Skype in the Classroom’s Literacy Month?

Teachers/Parents:

  • Register now, for free, to have your children/students to join NYT Best Selling Authors Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver on February 28th, as they discuss the uplifting messages from the Hank Zipzer book series, Here’s Hank. Get a head start by submitting your student questions now through #Skype2Learn. Some of your student questions may be included during the broadcast by Henry and Lin, or answered on Twitter immediately following the event on Feb 28th at 9 a.m. EST and 1 p.m. EST.
  • You can find the Hank Zipzer and Here’s Hank book collection at the Microsoft Store.
  • If you haven’t tried Microsoft Learning Tools yet, take a look and see how it can make a difference for your students.

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 Students:

  • Don’t imagine small, Imaginormous! Join the Roald Dahl Estate in the annual Imaginormous contest by submitting a 100-word story idea at imaginormouschallenge.com before      May 1.

UC trends revealed in top news stories of 2017

Microsoft migrating Skype for Business to Teams, Avaya filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and Slack unveiling an enterprise-grade team collaboration platform were some of the headlines that dominated the unified communications and collaboration market this year. These stories reflect the UC trends in a rapidly changing market that is shifting toward cloud and team-based collaboration.

As 2017 comes to a close, take a look back at the top five news stories that reflect the UC trends and topics most important to enterprise decision-makers and IT leaders.

1. Microsoft Teams to replace Skype for Business

Microsoft dominated UC news this year with the announcement that Microsoft Teams would replace Skype for Business Online as its core communications tool within Office 365.

Skype for Business customers will have to re-evaluate their UC strategies, as they might have to overhaul their infrastructure for the migration to Teams. IT leaders also voiced their concerns about the telephony tools in Teams. End users, too, may need additional training to help them adjust to the new interface.

In October, Microsoft released a roadmap that offered customers insight on the Skype for Business features that will be rolled into Teams over the next year, such as audio conferencing, call queues and voicemail.

The Teams migration has led to speculation about how Microsoft might further consolidate overlapping features in its collaboration portfolio, such as possibly replacing Outlook and Yammer with Teams.

unified communications news

2. Avaya files for bankruptcy

Longtime business communications provider Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, as it faced a $6 billion debt and declining revenue in a market shifting from hardware to software. The UC vendor planned to revamp its portfolio to focus on software, cloud and managed services. 

However, the bankruptcy filing left customers wondering what would happen to their UC environment if Avaya did not exit bankruptcy, or if it sold key pieces of its portfolio. With four possible outcomes of the bankruptcy filing, many customers were creating backup plans to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

In November, the bankruptcy court approved Avaya’s plan, and the vendor officially emerged from bankruptcy in December.

Avaya will re-enter a competitive UC market dominated by Microsoft and Cisco. The vendor saw declining revenue, as organizations balked at buying their products amid the bankruptcy. Avaya could be buoyed by its presence in the growing markets of communications platform as a service and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) with its wholly owned subsidiary, Zang.

3. Cisco boosts Spark capabilities

Cisco was a top UC topic this year, with several developments around its cloud-based product, Spark. In January, Cisco announced the Spark Board, an interactive display screen and video conferencing system. The Spark Board can also be used as a whiteboard or presentation screen for a laptop or mobile device. Cisco’s Spark Board aims to compete with Microsoft’s Surface Hub.

In March, Cisco unveiled hybrid video conferencing hardware, the Spark Room Kit and Room Kit Plus. The hardware is controllable through the Spark Cloud or Cisco on-premises UC equipment.

In May, Cisco announced it was acquiring AI vendor MindMeld for $125 million. Cisco plans to integrate MindMeld technology with Spark for voice-activated personal assistants.

In August, Cisco made security updates to meet requirements for organizations in regulated industries, such as healthcare, government and finance. The updates include content protection for mobile devices, legal-team access to all documents and messages, and on-premises deployment of Spark Key Server for data encryption and decryption.

4. Vendor acquisitions and market consolidation

Vendor consolidation remained a top UC news item in 2017, with several vendors acquiring or merging with other companies.

In May, Genband and Sonus announced the two companies were merging to create a provider that would support communication service providers and enterprises as they transition to cloud-based communications. The combined company rebranded as Ribbon Communications in October.

Mitel made two acquisitions to boost its cloud offerings. In May, the vendor acquired Toshiba’s UC assets, which included small and large customers with a mix of on-premises, cloud and hybrid deployments. In July, Mitel said it was acquiring ShoreTel for $430 million to double its cloud business and support hybrid cloud UC deployments.

In October, Cisco announced it would acquire BroadSoft for $1.9 billion. Cisco has traditionally focused on larger enterprises, while BroadSoft catered to the SMB space. The acquisition lets Cisco offer a cloud communications portfolio that can support organizations of all sizes. However, the acquisition could create conflict with BroadSoft’s partners that compete with Cisco offerings.

In November, CenturyLink completed its $34 billion acquisition of Level 3. The two companies will merge under the CenturyLink brand. The merger has left questions of what will happen to Level 3’s UC partnerships, which include Unify Square and Amazon Chime.

5. Cloud-based team collaboration gains momentum

As one of the major UC trends in 2017, the team collaboration hype train rolled through 2017, with new offerings entering the market and new capabilities to boost adoption across organizations. Slack, for instance, released its enterprise offering, Slack Enterprise Grid, which offers regulatory compliance, security and added integration with other business apps.

Slack and Teams unveiled new capabilities to support collaboration with external users. Slack added shared channels that are public and can be set up by an administrator to work with third-party apps. Teams’ guest access lets administrators add to Teams anyone listed in an Active Directory account in Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

Google released Hangouts for business apps, which include chat for team messaging and video and audio conferencing. Google has had an inconsistent track record in the enterprise and is playing catch-up to Microsoft, Cisco and Slack. Amazon also entered the cloud UC market with Chime, a conferencing and collaboration service. While Amazon faces competition from the major UC players, the company could gain market share through the clout and financial prowess of delivering Chime through Amazon Web Services.

Cloud UC continued to be a top UC trend in 2017, as adoption grew among organizations of all sizes. A report from IHS Markit found on-premises UC usage will shrink as organizations consider private cloud, UCaaS and hybrid deployments — a trend expected to continue in 2018.

The top Exchange and Office 365 tutorials of 2017

Even in the era of Slack and Skype, email remains the key communication linchpin for business. But where companies use email is changing.

In July 2017, Microsoft said, for the first time, its cloud-based Office 365 collaboration platform brought in more revenue than traditional Office licensing. In October 2017, Microsoft said it had 120 million commercial subscribers using its cloud service.

This trend toward the cloud is reflected by the heavy presence of Office 365 tutorials in this compilation of the most popular tips of 2017 on SearchExchange. More businesses are interested in moving from a legacy on-premises server system to the cloud — or at least a new version of Exchange.

The following top-rated Office 365 tutorials range from why a business would use an Office 365 hybrid setup to why a backup policy is essential in Office 365.

5. Don’t wait to make an Office 365 backup policy

Microsoft does not have a built-in backup offering for Office 365, so admins have to create a policy to make sure the business doesn’t lose its data.

Admins should work down a checklist to ensure email is protected if problems arise:

  • Create specific plans for retention and archives.
  • See if there are regulations for data retention.
  • Test backup procedures in Office 365 backup providers, such as Veeam and Backupify.
  • Add alerts for Office 365 backups.

4. What it takes to convert distribution groups into Office 365 Groups

Before the business moves from its on-premises email system to Office 365, admins must look at what’s involved to turn distribution groups into Office 365 Groups. The latter is a collaborative service that gives access to shared resources, such as a mailbox, calendar, document library, team site and planner.

Microsoft provides conversion scripts to ease the switch, but they might not work in every instance. Many of our Office 365 tutorials cover these types of migration issues. This tip explains some of the other obstacles administrators encounter with Office 365 Groups and ways around them.

3. Considerations before a switch to Office 365

While Office 365 has the perk of lifting some work off IT’s shoulders, it does have some downsides. A move to the cloud means the business will lose some control over the service. For example, if Office 365 goes down, there isn’t much an admin can do if it’s a problem on Microsoft’s end.

Businesses also need to keep a careful eye on what exactly they need from licensing, or they could end up paying far more than they should. And while it’s tempting to immediately adopt every new feature that rolls out of Redmond, Wash., the organization should plan ahead to determine training for both the end user and IT department to be sure the company gets the most out of the platform.

2. When a hybrid deployment is the right choice

A clean break from a legacy on-premises version of Exchange Server to the cloud sounds ideal, but it’s not always possible due to regulations and technical issues. In those instances, a hybrid deployment can offer some benefits of the cloud, while some mailboxes remain in the data center. Many of our Office 365 tutorials assist businesses that require a hybrid model to contend with certain requirements, such as the need to keep certain applications on premises.

1. A closer look at Exchange 2016 hardware

While Microsoft gives hardware requirements for Exchange Server 2016, its guidelines don’t always mesh with reality. For example, Microsoft says companies can install Exchange Server 2016 on a 30 GB system partition. But to support the OS and updates, businesses need at least 100 GB for the system partition.

A change from an older version of Exchange to Exchange 2016 might ease the burden on the storage system, but increase demands on the CPU. This tip explains some of the adjustments that might be required before an upgrade.

Announcing the Skype Professional Account Preview—doing business online made easy

People use Skype for lots of different things: chatting with friends and family, of course, but also giving music lessons, tutoring, consulting, and a whole lot more. We’re thrilled to announce that very soon these business owners and instructors are going to see some big changes with the way they use Skype.

The Skype Professional Account desktop client, soon to be released in preview in the U.S., adds powerful new features to Skype to make doing your online business a whole lot easier. In addition to meeting with your clients as you have been on Skype, you can also book those meetings, accept payments, and keep notes—all in one place.

If you’re a language or music teacher who works online—or a personal trainer, or a chess instructor, or any one of hundreds of other remote service providers—you’re probably using a combination of different platforms to organize and give sessions across Skype. You might use email to arrange a Skype call, calendar software to manage your Skype meeting schedule, and a third-party provider to coordinate and accept online payments. And you might be paying a pretty penny for some of these services.

Skype Professional Account gives you the power to do all that from one app for free during the preview. From French tutors to yoga instructors, you’ll be able to book lessons, accept payments, and give lessons all from one place, seamlessly. Plus, we’ve added an enhanced profile page to help improve your online presence and a dedicated website for your small business right in Skype. Your contacts will be able to see pertinent info like your hours and business offerings.

A laptop displays an instructor using Skype Professional Account. The image is accompanied by a screenshot.

All the features work together. For example, a payment request can be sent along with a booking. You’ll also be able to see all your notes without leaving the app. In addition, you’ll be able to easily port your contacts over to the Skype Professional Account Preview desktop client while your customers and clients continue to use their familiar Skype app to work with you.

As for your customers, in addition to searching for friends and groups they want on Skype, they’ll be able to find businesses as well. That means they can now look for the kind of professional they want to work with—maybe a financial planner in their time zone with over ten years of experience, or a career coach who’s worked in the healthcare industry.

Skype Professional Account will make it easier for thousands of service providers to connect with their customers and conduct their business—all in one place. We have limited spots available for the preview. Fill out a survey by visiting the Skype Professional Account homepage to have the opportunity to join. By the way, we’re busy working hard on several other exciting features we want to add to this app, so stay tuned for updates.

Check out what violin teacher Laurel Thomsen has to say about Skype Professional Account. Laurel was one of our early adopters who participated in the alpha program for Skype Professional Account.

We look forward to hearing your feedback in the Skype Community.

Microsoft Teams roadmap introduces telephony, interoperability

Many Skype for Business users probably won’t migrate to Microsoft Teams over the next year, because they are concerned about the lack of telephony features in the new chat-based workspace in Office 365, according to one industry expert.

The Microsoft Teams roadmap, released this week, promises a slew of Skype for Business features over the coming months. But Microsoft won’t fully roll out many of the telephony features until late next year.

“The biggest concern is Microsoft won’t deliver a lot of the telephony set until well into 2018,” said Irwin Lazar, a Nemertes Research analyst.

The Microsoft Teams roadmap details several Skype for Business features that will be rolled into Teams to help users prepare for a migration. Enterprise calling features — such as call park, group call pickup, location-based routing and shared-line appearance — are not expected until the fourth quarter of next year.

Additionally, the Microsoft Teams roadmap does not offer any new insights into Microsoft’s collaboration strategy, Lazar said. The roadmap, however, does provide customers with a timeline of when they can expect to see certain telephony features in Teams.

“It provides more clarity and will help companies plan for an eventual transition to Teams,” Lazar said.

Microsoft Teams roadmap: A bumpy ride?

The biggest concern is Microsoft won’t deliver a lot of the telephony set until well into 2018.
Irwin Lazaranalyst at Nemertes Research

Microsoft announced last month that Teams would replace Skype for Business Online to become the main communications client within Office 365. The announcement left many organizations questioning the migration process and the quality of telephony within Teams.

After Microsoft posted a blog announcing the roadmap, several users commented to share their thoughts. Some users are happy about the change. They lauded the upcoming Microsoft Teams features, the integration between Skype and Teams, and how the roadmap helps organizations plan for the migration and improve adoption.

Other users, however, remain skeptical.

“Honestly I am very disappointed you are moving in this direction, I miss the days of a small simple interface like the old school Communicator,” John Gooding posted in response to Microsoft’s blog. “We tried Slack and Teams, and it was fun for 30 minutes then it turned into a productivity drag.”

Messaging, meetings and more

The Microsoft Teams roadmap focuses on messaging, meetings and calling capabilities within the application. Lazar said the roadmap will help organizations with their user-awareness and adoption programs, and it will help them plan training for users as features become available.

Messaging. As a messaging-centric application, Teams already offers persistent, one-on-one and group chat. Features such as the ability to import contacts from Skype for Business, unified presence and messaging policies are expected to be available by the end of the first quarter of 2018. Microsoft expects to add screen sharing and federation between companies by the end of the second quarter of 2018.

Meetings. Teams includes meeting capabilities such as screen sharing and capturing chats in the channel after a meeting. Later this quarter, Microsoft will debut audio conferencing in over 90 countries, meeting support in the Edge and Google Chrome web browsers, and call-quality analytics.

Microsoft will introduce meeting room support with Skype Room Systems, cloud video interoperability with third-party devices and support for the Surface Hub by the end of the second quarter of 2018.

Calling. Later this year, Microsoft plans to introduce voicemail, call forwarding, e911 support, Skype for Business to Teams calling, and IT policies for Teams interoperability. In the second quarter next year, Microsoft will enable customers to use their existing telecom voice line to activate calling services in Office 365. Additional capabilities such as call queues and one-to-one to group call escalation with Teams, Skype for Business and PSTN participants will also be available.

Additional Microsoft Teams features will roll out in the second quarter of 2018, including recording and storing meetings, meeting transcriptions and the ability to search key terms.

In an effort to clear up confusion over its collaboration roadmap, Microsoft will also update the names of its PSTN Calling, PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX services. PSTN Calling will be renamed Calling Plan, PSTN Conferencing will be named Audio Conferencing, and Cloud PBX will be called Phone System.

For features yet to be announced in the Microsoft Teams roadmap, Lazar said he’d like to see announcements around customers using on-premises Skype for Business being able to use the cloud-based Teams for telephony.

One billion downloads of Skype for Android—thank you! | Skype Blogs

Today, Skype reached one billion downloads on the Google Play Store. Let’s repeat that:

One billion downloads!

Over the years, it’s been our mission to connect people—from wherever, whenever. Together, we’ve sent billions of messages, calls, and happy face emoticons—probably some sad ones, too. It’s sharing these special moments that make Skype one of a kind, and we’re so thankful that you’ve been with us along the way.

But just because we’ve reached this milestone doesn’t mean we’re going to stop.

We’ll continue to roll out creative new features and find ways to improve existing ones based on your feedback. And most important of all, we’ll continue to be your app for staying connected with the ones you care about most, every day.

So, thank you­—a billion times over—for using Skype. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Skype bow emoticon.

And as always, make sure you download the latest Skype now to see all the newest features and share your feedback with us in our Community!

Introducing a preview of the next generation of Skype for Linux | Skype Blogs

Great news for Skype for Linux users—the next generation of Skype for Linux is launching! Starting today, you can download Skype Preview for Linux and start enjoying new features across all your devices—including screen sharing and group chat.

Bring calls to life and collaborate on projects with screen sharing

With Skype for Linux, you can take advantage of the screen sharing feature on your desktop screen. Now, you can share content with everyone on the call—making it even easier to bring your calls to life and collaborate on projects.

Image showing the screen sharing feature on the desktop screen.

Turn everyday conversations into experiences with group chat

The new group chat feature for Skype for Linux allows you to talk with several friends at the same time. We even included options to personalize chats with emoticons, Mojis, and photos so you can express yourself with your own style. It’s a great way to turn your everyday conversations into experiences.

Image showing the chat feature using emoticons, Mojis, and photos in the group conversation.

The next generation of Skype for Linux is part of our broader strategy to rebuild Skype from the ground up with cloud technology—a more reliable platform that can scale to a much bigger audience. We’re making great improvements in the ways you like to connect with people and bringing your world closer together than ever before.

Image showing three people on a Skype for Linux call.

As a reminder—all Skype for Linux clients (versions 4.3 and older) were retired on July 1, 2017. If you’re running an older version, it’s time to upgrade to the Skype Preview for Linux.

We also recommend making sure that you have an up-to-date microphone and webcam for video calls, so you can take advantage of all the new features this preview version has to offer.

Try it out and tell us what you think by clicking the heart on the menu. Share your ideas in the Skype for Linux Community on how we can make Skype for Linux better. We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback.

A new vision for intelligent communications in Office 365 – Office Blogs

Today’s post was written by Lori Wright, general manager for Microsoft Teams and Skype product marketing.

Today at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, Florida, we introduced a new vision for intelligent communications, transforming calling and meeting experiences for people and organizations around the world. Intelligent communications go beyond traditional unified communications, enabling you to complete tasks more efficiently with minimal context switching, participate in more productive meetings that cover the entire meeting lifecycle, and better manage your everyday communications overload.

Microsoft Teams is core to our vision for intelligent communications—bringing together conversations, meetings, files, Office apps, and third-party integrations—to provide a single hub for teamwork in Office 365. Teams is now being used by over 125,000 organizations across the world in just six months since its launch. Its strong momentum has proven that teamwork is essential to the way work gets done today.

To achieve our vision for intelligent communications, we are bringing comprehensive calling and meetings capabilities into Teams, along with data and insights from the Microsoft Graph, and a strong roadmap of innovation to empower teams to achieve more.

All of this is being built on a new, modern Skype infrastructure for enterprise-grade voice and video communications. Our next generation, cloud-born architecture is already powering communication experiences in Teams, and is evolving rapidly. We are excited about this new infrastructure because it will provide both speed of innovation as well as higher quality communication experiences.​

As we build out these capabilities, Teams will evolve as the primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365, replacing the current Skype for Business client over time.

The future of business meetings

Combining communications, collaboration, and intelligence in this way will make new things possible across the lifecycle of a call or meeting:

  • Before a meeting, Teams will surface relevant documents and rich information about the participants to help you prepare.
  • During the meeting, the conversation can be captured, transcribed, and time-coded, with closed captioning and voice recognition for attributing remarks to specific individuals.
  • After the meeting, the cloud recording and transcript can be automatically added to the relevant channel, so conversations, documents, notes, and action items can be reviewed, indexed, and searched by the entire team.

Image of a Teams meeting with four participants.

Introducing calling features and meeting enhancements in Teams

Over the past six months, we’ve continued to enhance the communications capabilities in Teams, with new features like scheduled meetings, Outlook calendar integration, and meetings on mobile. Also, earlier this month, we began rolling out guest access—so you can use Teams to collaborate with people outside your company. In the coming months, we will begin adding calling features in Teams—including inbound and outbound calls to PSTN numbers, hold, call transfer, and voicemail.

We are also introducing new enhancements to Teams meetings, including audio conferencing (available in preview today)—enabling participants to join a Teams meeting by dialing a telephone number—and interoperability between Teams and Skype for Business, including universal presence, and messaging and calling interoperability.

This is just the beginning of a big wave of feature releases that will bring the core set of meetings and phone system capabilities into Teams.

We remain committed to bringing the familiar Skype experience into any and every meeting room. We have seen strong customer momentum with Skype Rooms Systems. Today, Lenovo announced they will bring to market a new Skype Room Systems device, Smart Hub 500, expanding on the current portfolio of Skype Room Systems with Logitech, Crestron, and Polycom. In addition, Polycom, Pexip, and Blue Jeans Networks will deliver cloud video interop capabilities within Teams. This adds to the existing video interop capabilities for Skype for Business delivered by Polycom’s RealConnect for Office 365 and Pexip’s Infinity Fusion product.

What’s next

Office 365 customers can take advantage of the capabilities in Microsoft Teams starting today. We are committed to providing visibility into the Teams product roadmap, so our customers can assess when Teams is right for them. We intend to make an updated roadmap for Teams available in October.

We plan to continue to offer and support Skype for Business in Office 365 and Skype for Business Server on-premises. For customers who are not yet ready to move their PBX and advanced calling capabilities to the cloud, we will release a new version of Skype for Business Server targeted for the second half of calendar year 2018.

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business clients can be run side by side to evaluate and explore what’s best for your organization.

We encourage every Office 365 customer to begin using Teams today. Office 365 customers currently using Skype for Business can find guidance and resources on the intelligent communications page in the FastTrack portal.

—Lori Wright

Microsoft Teams to replace Skype for Business Online

Microsoft plans to replace Skype for Business Online with the Teams collaboration service, a move likely to have the greatest effect on companies using the video conferencing software for on-premises or cloud-based telephony.

Microsoft will replace the Skype for Business user interface with the Teams UI, while continuing with the Skype communications infrastructure, which already powers audio and video communications in Teams. Microsoft announced the transition Monday at its Ignite developer conference in Orlando, Fla.

Microsoft did not provide a timetable for the change, saying it would occur “over time.” Analysts, however, expect Skype for Business Online to disappear by 2020.

The switch is significant because Teams will become the core communications client for Office 365, the company’s cloud-based business productivity suite with 60 million commercial customers.

What happens to Skype for Business Server?

The transition adds uncertainty to the long-term prospects of Skype for Business Server, the on-premises version of the cloud-based PBX that connects Skype for Business to the public telephone network. Analysts wonder how that product will be affected as Microsoft directs more of its resources to online communications.

“One doesn’t know the pace at which they will be making enhancements, since it’s no longer a part of their strategic product direction,” said Bern Elliot, an analyst at Gartner.

For now, Microsoft plans to conduct business as usual. In the second half of next year, the company will release an upgrade of Skype for Business Server, which provides voice and video conferencing along with PBX services unavailable in Skype for Business Online.

The switch to Teams also brings uncertainty to companies that have swapped their telephone system for the cloud-based version of Skype for Business. That’s because there is no commitment on the part of Microsoft to move all functionality over to Teams.

Companies that had a plan to do [Skype for Business] telephony online should review their plans in light of the uncertainty.
Bern Elliotanalyst at Gartner

“It’s not certain what will be available when — especially when it comes to some of the functions like telephony,” Elliot said. “Companies that had a plan to do [Skype for Business] telephony online should review their plans in light of the uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft is beefing up telephony in Teams. At Ignite, the company is announcing the ability to make and receive calls on the public telephone network. Also, Teams users will have the option of placing calls on hold, transferring them to another party or sending them to voicemail.

Despite the telephony enhancements, swapping out Skype for Business Online could be painful for many enterprises that have to train employees to use Teams, analysts warned. However, AFR Furniture Rental, based in Pennsauken, N.J., believes the additional features in Teams will be worth the move for the company’s 500 Skype for Business users.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty easy integration for Microsoft to do,” said Steven Singer, manager of information systems for AFR. “I don’t see a real downside, outside of training, and training is temporary.”

The market trend that killed Skype for Business Online

Microsoft’s decision to fade out Skype for Business Online is a response to companies demanding more communication functionality in group messaging applications, which are growing in popularity among employees, analysts said. Microsoft’s biggest rival, Cisco, is similarly focused on its competing Spark product.

A survey of 700 companies found that nearly half had rolled out team chat apps enterprise-wide or were planning to do so, according to Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

The trend toward group messaging services means software-based phones like Skype for Business, which also provide messaging and limited document sharing, are “dead,” said Art Schoeller, an analyst at Forrester Research. “All these separate client experiences are collapsing into a team messaging interface.”

Discontinuing Skype for Business Online will reduce Microsoft’s bloated portfolio of collaboration apps to three — Teams, Yammer and Office 365 Groups.

“The Teams interface is much better suited to group, persistent collaboration, and it provides clarity around what so far has been a confusing array of Microsoft collaboration tools,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research.

Also at Ignite, Microsoft will announce that Teams will get tighter integration with SharePoint, which is the company’s document management and collaboration tool. Pages and communication sites people create in SharePoint will be accessible through Teams.

Yammer is also on tap to get tighter integration with SharePoint, as well as changes to data handling to meet the compliance requirements of many enterprises.

Hello, desktops. Meet Skype Preview

Starting today, the next generation of Skype is available in preview on desktop computers. It’s not yet complete and we need your feedback. We’re committed to providing a Skype experience you love, enhancing the way you talk, text, and experience the world—all from the comfort of your desktop.

For Mac and non-Windows 10 PC* users, Skype Preview delivers most of the great features of our next generation mobile experience but is specifically designed with desktop in mind, to take full advantage of the larger screen. Skype Preview puts chat front and center—making this the most expressive Skype ever. Group chats are livelier with new features that improve your connection with friends and family. You can also do more together in group calls, with real-time screen and photo sharing.

Animated image of a chat showing how to use the emojis to respond to a comment and to like a photo that was shared in the conversation.

We’re also previewing some features to make you more productive on your desktop. Try them out, let us know what you think, and share any ideas on how we can make them better.

  • @mentions, message reactions and a new notification panel—Stay on top of your day with help from the notification panel. Quickly jump back into conversations where you were @mentioned to see how people reacted to what you’ve said.

Image of a Skype group chat with notification panel displaying the list @mentions and reactions associated with the chat.

  • New chat media gallery—Finding shared content—such as links, documents, or media—in a chat has never been easier with the chat gallery.

Image of a chat where the Gallery pane is displayed showing an Excel workbook and a photo that has been shared in the conversation.

  • Enhanced group calls—Customize your group call experience with drag and drop ease. Say it with an emoji using our new in-call reactions, too!

Image of a group call showing how the in-call emoji can be used.

If you’re using Skype for Windows 10, great news! We’ve already started rolling out some of these features. To learn more, check out the Windows blog.

Skype brings people together to experience more every day and make life a little simpler and more convenient. Start experiencing it for yourself by downloading Skype Preview for non-Windows 10 PCs and Macs today at Skype Insider. Skype Preview will install alongside Skype classic, making it easy to switch back if needed. However, we recommend running one instance of Skype at a time so that you don’t get duplicate notifications for messages or calls.

Since this is a preview, it’s critical that we hear from you; simply click the heart on the menu and send us your thoughts. Or, tell us what you think in our Community. To learn more about the new Skype, visit the Skype.com feature page. For questions, please visit the FAQs.

*Windows 10 version 1511 (OS Build 10586) and older.