Tag Archives: skype

Easily integrate Skype calls into your content with the new content creators feature | Skype Blogs

Skype is used worldwide as a tool for bringing callers into a variety of different podcasts, live streams, and TV shows. Today, we made it even simpler to bring your incoming audio and video calls to life with the Skype for content creators feature.

Building off the Skype TX appliance for professional studios, we built the feature directly into the desktop app, so podcasters, vloggers, and live streamers can bring Skype calls directly into their content without the need for expensive equipment, studio setup, or multiple crew members.

From a one-on-one audio call up to a four-person group video—incoming calls are available for you to build your own content by integrating Skype calls.

The feature uses NewTek NDI®. You need an NDI-enabled application or device to use Skype for content creators.

There are a number of NDI-enabled software and appliances to choose from,* including:

  • NewTek TriCaster®
  • Xsplit
  • OBS with NDI plugin
  • Pro presenter
  • Wirecast
  • vMIX
  • Ecamm Live for Mac
  • Ovrstream

You will be able to edit, brand, and distribute your Skype content, which can then be sent to a group of friends, uploaded as a podcast or vlog, or live streamed to an audience of millions using platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and LinkedIn.

Skype for content creators is now available on the latest version of Skype for Windows and Mac. Visit Skype for content creators to learn more. We would love to hear from and see what you have created using this feature; email us at sfcc@microsoft.com.

*Third-party applications have not been checked, verified, certified, or otherwise approved or endorsed by Skype. Applications may be subject to the third-party provider’s own terms and privacy policy. Skype does not control and is not responsible for the download, installation, pricing, quality, performance, availability, support, or terms and conditions of purchase of third-party applications.

Use the new Activity Plans to organize your Skype in the Classroom experiences |

Skype in the Classroom has always been one of my favorite resources for engaging students in real-life, relevant learning experiences. I recently learned that using Skype in the Classroom has become even easier for teachers with the addition of FREE activity plans! These are activity plans written by educators for educators.

5 Reasons to get excited about the launch of these helpful new resources:

Teachers always have a long to-do list. Want to engage your students with a Skype in the Classroom experience but short on time? These activity plans will help make it happen! The plans are free and easy to download in just a few seconds. Each one includes objectives (GREAT to share with parents and administrators), activities to activate background knowledge, research, brainstorming, preparing students for the call, assessment, reflection and more.

  • Easy to adapt

Each activity plan can be followed step-by-step or easily adjusted to best fit your students’ needs. Once you download, each plan is fully editable, making any adjustments quick, seamless and easy. This is also a great way to save any changes after the Skype experience, so you will be able to remember how you adapted the lesson for the next time you use it with students.

  • Aligned to ISTE Standards

Not only are objectives listed for each activity, they are also aligned to ISTE standards. This is a nice way to keep the big picture in mind. It’s a valuable resource to share with students, parents, administrators and colleagues.

  • Help other teachers

Do you know other teachers who are curious about using Skype in the Classroom with their students but are unsure how or where to start? This handy resource will give them a step-by-step guide, including question prompts, research and assessment ideas, and more.

  • Deep(er) learning

Each activity plan includes ideas to launch the lesson, research, prepare students, reflect and assess. These ideas help teachers plan intentionally for each aspect of the learning experience and provide a framework of ideas for before, during and after the Skype experience.

Whether you are looking to launch a new school year with an exciting Skype call, planning for Skype experiences throughout the year, dreaming of Skype-a-Thon connections, or whatever your Skype in the Classroom goals may be, be sure to check out and download the free activity plans to support and enhance the experience for you and your students.

Microsoft Skype for Business update fixes Mac bugs

The latest software patch for on-premises Skype for Business eliminates bugs and adds features for users that run the Microsoft platform on Mac OS, narrowing an already minimal gap between the Mac and Windows clients.

For Mac users, the Skype for Business update lets delegates — users designated to receive someone else’s calls — create and edit a meeting on behalf of a colleague. Also, users can now be made a delegate even if their account isn’t part of an organization’s enterprise voice plan.

Microsoft has enabled video-based screen sharing for Mac users, the result of a next-generation screen-sharing protocol that the vendor added to Skype for Business earlier this year. The new system is faster and more reliable than the traditional method and works better in low-bandwidth conditions.

The Skype for Business update, available for download now, also fixes several bugs on the Mac client, including a flaw that prevented users from joining a meeting hosted by someone outside their organization.

Microsoft seems to announce updates to the Mac client more quickly than it does for other changes to the Skype for Business platform, and describes Mac upgrades in more detail, said Jim Gaynor, a vice president of the consulting group Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wash.

“There are still a few gaps between SfB Mac and Windows clients, most around some of the advanced call control features, file upload/sharing, and the ability to upload PowerPoint decks for online presentations,” Gaynor said. “But they’re fairly minimal.”

Skype for Business 2015 server nears its end of life

The improvements to the Mac client were among roughly 40 enhancements released as part of Microsoft’s biannual update to the Skype for Business 2015 server.

This summer’s Skype for Business update introduces location-based routing for Skype for Business mobile clients. The feature gives businesses more control when steering calls between VoIP and PSTN endpoints based on geography.

Microsoft is expected to stop releasing feature updates and bug fixes for the 2015 server in fall 2020, the end of the typical five-year lifespan for the product.

The vendor recently published a preview of the 2019 server, which is due out by year’s end. That server will extend support for on-premises Skype for Business for at least another five years, primarily to serve large organizations that are not ready to migrate to Skype’s cloud-based successor, Microsoft Teams.

The 2019 server will encourage businesses to host some telephony and messaging features in the cloud. Meanwhile, Microsoft Teams, a team collaboration app similar to Slack, will soon replace Skype for Business Online within the cloud-based Office 365 suite.

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.