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Microsoft Announces Skype for Business

  • Lync and Skype Users all keep their favorite features and functionality 
  • Lync and Skype users can all communicate with each other through federated services
  • Complete unification of platforms will drive greater unified communication adoption

Back on July 10, 2014 new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sent an email to all Microsoft employees that was published on the web for all to see.  His subject line: “Bold Ambition & Our Core

In this email, as he was explaining that Microsoft would be the “Platform & Productivity” company for the new “mobile-first, cloud-first” world, Nadella declared, “We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.”

skype logoMicrosoft Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Pall invoked this declaration in his November 11, 2014 blog post, Introducing Skype for Business, saying “Yesterday we kicked off a global conversation about how Microsoft is reinventing productivity—across the board—to create a world where people can truly make the most of their time and lead more fulfilling lives.  Connecting people across all of life’s moments—to talk, to share, to collaborate—is at the heart of helping people make the most of every moment.  To that end, and for our business customers, we are bringing together the familiar experience and user love of Skype with the enterprise security, compliance and control from Lync to create the most loved and trusted communications platform for doing things together.”

What Stays & What Goes?

The first question most Skype users and Lync users alike will ask is what they can expect to see stay, and what may go away when this change occurs in the first half of 2015.

Per information directly from Microsoft, “In Gurdeep Pall’s blog on November 11, 2014, Microsoft introduced Skype for Business which brings together the familiar experience and user love of Skype with the enterprise security, compliance and control of Lync. In the first half of 2015, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business with a new client experience, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365. We believe that Skype for Business will again transform the way people communicate by giving organizations reach to hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business.”

Microsoft also assures that the public version of Skype, which they refer to as the “consumer experience”, will remain unchanged.

When Lync becomes Skype for Business, it will keep and improve on all of the capabilities of Lync, including content sharing and telephony. The “Skype-inspired” user interface will combine the best elements from both, and several new features will be added, including:

  • Familiar Skype icons for calling and video
  • A call monitor to keep active calls visible while switching between apps
  • Enterprise connection with the Skype network with IM, audio, and video
  • A simpler upgrade and patch process for Skype for Business server
  • and more…
Microsoft says it anticipates a dramatic increase in user adoption of unified communications with the release of Skype for Business in the first half of 2015

When asked if Lync users lose any functionality, Microsoft responds, “No. Skype for Business will deliver the same features and functionality as well as control, security, and reliability that enterprise customers expect. For instance, Skype for Business Admins will be able to control when and how the users interface is displayed for their users. This additional control means they can deliver Skype for Business on their terms.”

How Will Customers Make the Migration?

According to Microsoft, “Current Lync Server customers will be able to take advantage of these capabilities simply by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their datacenters. No new hardware is required.  For Office 365 customers, it’s even simpler.  We’ll do the required updates.  And because communications is mission-critical, this release meets a new bar for reliability and performance.”

In this early announcement, Microsoft says it anticipates a dramatic increase in user adoption of unified communications with the release of Skype for Business in the first half of 2015.  They promise more information as that day draws closer.