The big news at the Microsoft Convergence conference yesterday was the announcement that technical previews of the Skype for Business client are now online, and that roll-out of the upgrade will occur in April.
We couldn't be more excited, as the technical preview gives current Lync customers a chance to try out Skype for Business while preparing for their upgrade. Here's a peek at what you'll see:
What the announcement means
For current Lync users: If your Lync 2013 deployment is on-premises, you'll be able to upgrade by installing the new Skype for Business Client over your existing Lync Server, without additional hardware.
And if you already access Lync Online through Office 365, your upgrade couldn't be any easier: Your users will have the new interface and features automatically when Microsoft rolls out Skype for Business to Enterprise users in April.
But if you've been putting off your migration from a legacy phone system, you now have the choice of deploying it on-premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment.
The Best of Both Worlds
If you're one of the 300 million people around the world who use a personal Skype account to communicate with your family and friends, the new Skype for Business interface will already feel familiar, with the same buttons and icons. Chat bubbles and tabs allow you to organize and keep track of multiple conversations.
But the new interface is just the beginning. Those of us who are coming to Skype for Business from Microsoft Lync will be pleased with a host of new features, including:
- Skype Directory Integration - Connect over the Internet with millions of Skype users in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer context. Can search the Skype directory and add contacts within the Skype for Busienss client.
- Improved Audio and Video quality - Skype for Business utilizes the same SILK codec enjoyed by users of the consumer version of Skype - but with the security mechanisms already in place for Lync to encrypt both signaling and media using TLS/SRTP.
- Call Monitor - This is another popular Skype consumer feature that vastly improves the usability of Skype for Business, allowing one to toggle between a full Skype for Business window when actively participating in a conversation, and a miniature version when focused on other tasks.
- Rate My Call - On-premise Skype for Business Server 2015 administrators are now able to collect call data, access standard reports, and export raw data for further analysis.
- Emoticons - For those of us who feel that merely texting isn't enough, Skype for Business now includes the same set of emoticons found in the consumer version of Skype.
We think your users are going to love the additional audio and video functionality of Skype for Business, which could lead to increased demands on your network resources. Software defined networking apps give you the flexibility and dynamic control to give your users the quality of service they expect.