Microsoft confirmed this morning that it will replace Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams, as had been widely rumored. But it will still release a new Skype for Business on-premises server next year for those businesses not ready to move to the cloud.
To be clear, only the Skype for Business brand is really going away, and then only in the cloud for the short term. That is, all of the capabilities that Microsoft’s business customers expect from Skype for Business will be rolled into Microsoft Teams. That latter product has been well-received by customers and has experienced exploding usage in its first six months of availability. And it’s about to get a lot better. Or at least a lot more capable.
Key to this move is delivering a single architecture—and, on each client platform, a single way to access these features—for Unified Communications. Now, customers will be able to place calls, hold meetings, collaborate with others, and communicate in other ways all from a single place. And that place is Microsoft Teams.
At the time of this writing, it’s not clear what the schedule is for phasing out Skype for Business across Office 365, Microsoft 365, and the software giant’s other cloud-based offerings. But Microsoft Teams will become the core communications client “over time,” Microsoft says, and it will be updated with numerous features and meeting enhancements during this transition. These will include features normally associated with Skype for Business, including inbound/outbound calls to PSTN systems, the ability to hold and transfer calls, voicemail, audio conferencing, universal presence, and messaging and calling interoperability.
Obviously, this is blockbuster news, but it’s a transition that will take some time. And I don’t believe this change impacts the consumer version of Skype in any way.