While many technology and software companies use a lot of pomp and circumstance around the launch of a new product or service, Microsoft has taken the road less traveled and is slowly (and silently) rolling out Skype for Business as a replacement for its Microsoft Lync service. The introduction of Skype for Business will improve collaboration among employees, with an easy adoption as many users are already familiar with Skype’s interface.
Microsoft Lync was released in 2011 as a replacement for Windows Messenger, which was an instant messaging client that ran on the Microsoft Exchange Server. Designed for enterprise use, Windows Messenger allowed employees to connect instantly via their corporation’s secure Exchange Server. Lync’s release included VoIP and Video Conferencing options along with integrations with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office for collaboration on documents and other files.
The transition from Microsoft Lync to Skype for Business will be rather seamless, and most users will be automatically rolled from one platform to the other by the end of May.
Skype for Business Features
With a recognizable interface, users will be able to connect with co-workers via instant messaging, voice, or video chat. Additionally users can share and edit documents and other files from within Skype for Business, for increased collaboration and productivity. Microsoft is stressing the importance of a seamless integration between Skype for Business and Microsoft Office and has announced in a statement that: “[Skype for Business] is built right into Office, so features like presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online meetings are an integrated part of the Office experience. And with Skype for Business, you can search for and connect with anyone in the Skype network–inside or outside your organization.”
With Skype for business, users can connect with other Skype users across the world, so they aren’t limited to only connecting to others employed or associated with the same company.
Microsoft Office 365
For businesses that have active Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions, Microsoft Lync will automatically update to Skype for Business. Microsoft if rolling out the software globally and expects all end users to be using Skype for Business in place of Lync Online by the end of May. As Office 365 is a cloud-based subscription, the software will be automatically updated with very limited service disruption for the end users.
Microsoft Office 2013
While not available for earlier versions such as Microsoft Office 2010, those using Microsoft Office 2013 will be able to upgrade to Skype for Business as part of the monthly update for Office 2013 this month. Additionally, Microsoft has allowed for system administrators to control the rollout to Skype for Business, should organizations need additional time to make the switch. System admins who manage either Lync Online or Lync Server can decide to delay the rollout to make sure employees have enough time to get acquainted with the new system.
If you are in need of assistance transitioning from Microsoft Lync to Skype for Business, a PrivoIT consultant can help make the upgrade from Lync to Skype as seamless as possible for your business or organization.