Microsoft Starts Skype for Business Rollout

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Lync replacement Skype for Business is being made available to Office 365 customers

Microsoft has started rolling out Skype for Business to Office 365 customers, with all users epected to make the transition from Lync by the end of May.

The company first announced plans to replace the Lync unified communications platform with an enterprise version of Skype and launched a technical preview earlier this year.

Skype for Business’s interface is heavily inspired by its consumer counterpart and features like instant messaging, presence and voice calls are built into Office 365 software.

Skype for Business

skypeforbusiness2Integrated video calls will also be available to business users for the first time. Office 365 subscribers will also have access to Skype for Business Online as part of the rollout.

Microsoft’s decision to replace Lync is motivated by a desire to offer a unified experience across its enterprise and consumer software portfolios.

Skype for Business offers the same icons, layouts and contact lists as its consumer counterpart to help users feel more familiar with the platform, but for companies that need a little more time to adjust, administrators will still be able to switch between the Skype and Lync interfaces for the time being.

Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion (£5.1 billion) in 2011 and has worked to integrate Voice over-IP (VoIP) and video communications features into a number of its products. Skype ultimately replaced  MSN Messenger in April 2013.

The firm also plans to create a consumer-facing online version of Skype using the Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) standard which eliminates the need to download a client.

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