Skype for Business to Launch March 18

Posted on March 12, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Office 365 with 0 Comments

skype-bus-hero

Last year, Microsoft announced that it would rebrand its Lync communications solution as Skype for Business sometime in the first half of 2015. Well, it’s happening next week: Skype for Business launches on March 18.

“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,” a Microsoft blog post from November 2014 explains. “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.”

News of the date comes via a rather unusual source: a Microsoft video on Facebook.

video

The new Lync, er, ah, Skype for Business sports a modern UI that pulls in elements from both Lync and consumer Skype.

UI

But Microsoft says that Skype for Business includes many other new features, including:

Skype UI elements. Skype for Business uses “the familiar Skype icons for calling, adding video and ending a call,” plus the Skype call monitor, which keeps an active call visible in a small window even when a user moves focus to another application.

Better Skype integration. In addition to instant messaging and audio calling with Skype, Skype for Business adds video calling and the Skype user directory, so you can call any Skype user on any device.

More efficient design. Common tasks can be completed with fewer steps. For example, transferring a call now takes only one touch or click instead of three.

Skype for Business will be rolled out automatically to Office 365 for business customers in the weeks and months ahead. Those with on-premises Lync servers will need to upgrade to Skype for Business manually.

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