In July 2019, Microsoft announced Skype for Business end of life. This means that Microsoft will pull the plug on Skype for Business on July 21st 2021.
With Windows 7 end of life, Microsoft offered extended support updates but not this time – when they say ‘end of life’, they mean it.
What comes after Skype for Business end of life?
For all Skype for Business customers, Microsoft are recommending an upgrade to Microsoft Teams which we agree would be a really smart move.
Teams now supports all the features of Skype, such as calling, instant messaging and meetings, and has better integration with other Microsoft apps.
Key differences between Skype and Teams
Whilst Skype for Business is the evolution of a communication platform, Microsoft Teams is a far more purposeful communication and collaboration tool. Many of the features are the same but Teams brings us vastly improved, sharper versions.
As with Skype, Teams allows you to schedule meetings via Outlook, host ad-hoc meetings with your team and invite external participants. With Skype, however, an external participant often had to install a browser plugin to gain access which was faffy and would cause delays in getting the meeting started. Teams eliminates this issue, allowing non-account holders to join a meeting via their browser without delay.
With Teams, as with Skype, you can also share presentations and content during a video call: The notable difference is the quality. The video performance is much smoother with fewer stutters and freezing. Teams also gives participants the option to blur their background to avoid distractions – perfect for our current work-from-home culture.
When a chat window is closed with Skype for Business, the chat is gone for good. Fine for a quick morning check-in with the team, frustrating if you can’t remember a key point of discussion. But with Teams, you get persistent chat which means your messages will always be there for reference unless you choose to delete them.
Another benefit of Teams chat is the ability to use rich formatting in text and social-media-like ‘reactions’ to quickly acknowledge messages. You can even embed images in messages removing the need for the recipient to download an image file to open separately.
Teams also simplifies calling with its dedicated ‘Calls’ tab. From here you can set speed dials, access contacts, view call history, check voicemail and use a traditional dialling pad.
How you can prepare for Skype for Business end of life.
Of course, whilst Microsoft Teams is the recommended upgrade from Skype for Business, there are other communication platforms out there you may want to consider for your business – Zoom, Slack or the most recent Workplace from Facebook.
If you do decide Teams is the right platform for you, the swiych-over won’t happen automatically. With only months to go until Skype for Business end of life, we suggest you start your transition to Teams now to ensure a smooth one.
Not only will the move be a technical upgrade, but it will also be a cultural change for your employees: They will be working from a new visual hub as well as leaving behind an email + Skype-based communication system for a more instant-chat-and-collaborative-working platform.
Thinks to consider:
Staff training – there will be new concepts for your employees to familiarise themselves with. In the time you have left before Skype for Business end of life, you might want to consider a co-existence strategy for gradual migration.
Technical needs – your network needs to be ready for increased workloads with calls and meetings.
Hardware – can your existing Skype for Business hardware devices, such as headsets, be used with Teams?
Infrastructure – will your existing Office 365 infrastructure support Teams so you can use it to its full capacity?
One of our core values is ‘we do what’s right by our clients’: If you need to make the move from Skype for Business and are unsure what move you should make, we’re here to guide and advise you on your options.
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