Microsoft announced it would release a new program, Skype for Business, an enterprise-grade communications tool which would be available early next year.
Skype for Business will replace Lync, the audio, video and chat communication tool within Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite, Office 365. Skype for Business will include similar features such as enterprise security, compliance and control.
Skype for Business is both a rebrand and a new product, with Microsoft releasing a new client experience for mobile, tablets and desktops, new server release, and updates to the service in Office 365 under the Skype for Business name, a spokesman told Digital First.
“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,” says Gurdeep Pall, Skype corporate vice president, in the company blog.
Skype for Business incorporates familiar and intuitive elements from both Skype and Lync, with recognisable Skype icons as well as the content sharing and telephony capabilities of Lync.
Skype for Business also adds video calling and the Skype user directory making it possible to call any Skype user on any device.
What Happens to Lync?
Skype for Business is the newest version of Lync, which will still exist in previous versions such as Lync 2013, etc., Microsoft says.
Lync users can gain access by updating from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their data centres, with no new hardware required. For Office 365 customers, the Skype update will occur automatically.
Microsoft will help Lync 2013 customers quickly adopt Skype for Business by enabling video connectivity between Lync 2013 users and the Skype network by the end of 2014. It will provide administrators with the option to use either the new Skype for Business UI or the existing Lync UI with the Lync 2013 client.
This allows them to take advantage of the familiar Skype interface immediately once Microsoft releases the new client.
Lync Server 2013 customers will be able to migrate easily to Skype for Business Server because Microsoft use the same hardware profiles and provides easy to follow steps for upgrading server software, Microsoft says. There are no changes for Lync 2010 customers.
More details such as call costs, integration of Skype credit and PBX functionality would be released at a later date, Microsoft told Digital First.