If you’ve already started using Microsoft Office 365 in your business, you’ve been enjoying all the familiar features of Microsoft Office, made better with the extra functionality, availability, and cybersecurity that cloud services enable. That alone is worth the cost of the subscription. If you want to get even more value out of it, Xantrion recommends additional applications, such as Skype for Business, that are included in the Microsoft Office 365 bundle. They offer services the SMB needs at no additional cost, and their deep integration with the other parts of Microsoft Office 365 make them more usable as well as easier to administer and secure.
Skype for Business offers quick, uncomplicated instant conferencing, and screen-sharing capabilities for both desktop and mobile users. It works best when all participants in a call are logged in to the Microsoft Office 365 platform, but Microsoft recently released a web plug-in that allows people without an account to join a call or screen sharing session, and dial-in numbers are on their way.
We feel that in the very near future, our clients who are currently paying for applications like GoToMeeting and WebEx will be able to move to Skype for Business and get all the functionality they need at no additional licensing cost beyond their Microsoft Office 365 subscription.
One item to understand before you dive into using Skype for Business is it is a different product and uses a different technology platform than Skype.
You may recall that Microsoft’s historic business collaboration tool for on-line meetings and Instant Messaging was called Lync. In 2011 Microsoft purchased a much more popular consumer product for collaboration called “Skype” and, confusingly, in 2014, rebranded Lync as “Skype for Business”. You would think, since both products now had “Skype” in the name, that users of one platform would be able to collaborate with users of the other. This was not the case – Lync and Skype, despite the name change and shared logo, were, and still remain, separate platforms. When the name change was first announced it was nearly impossible for a person using “Skype for Business” to connect with someone using “Skype”. This caused, and still causes, a great deal of confusion and frustration.
Lync was, and is, part of Microsoft’s paid Office 365 offering. Skype for Business, as Lync is now called, offers features not present in the free consumer Skype product. Among other things it:
|•||Handles larger meeting sizes|
|•||Can automatically launch and log into the Skype for Business network when you log into your work computer|
|Integrates with Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office 365. So, for example, from within Outlook, you can see if the person who sent you and e-mail is online in Skype for Business|
|Can direct calls to go over the actual telephone network, rather than the internet, which means you can achieve better call quality.|
- Since 2014 Microsoft has built connectors between the two different products so that “Skype for Business” users can more and more easily connect with Skype users. However, keep in mind, that Skype and Skype for Business remain two totally different tools. So if you are having trouble finding someone in “Skype” check to see if one of you is actually using “Skype for business”. If so, follow the instructions in this helpful article. If you still have problems, you’ll need to contact the administrator of the “Skype for Business” account to see if restrictions have been set up which block communication with the “Skype” consumer network.