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Microsoft Releases Skype for Business Server 2015

Microsoft announced the general availability of its Skype for Business Server 2015 product this week, along with other improvements to its unified communications services.

Skype for Business Server 2015 is the successor product to Lync Server 2013. Microsoft claims that it's possible to perform an "in-place upgrade" of Lync Server 2013 to its new Skype for Business Server 2015 product using existing hardware. The new server was scheduled to be available and on the product list on May 1.

For step-by-step Skype for Business Server 2015 install instructions, check out this post by Microsoft MVP Christophe Boucetta.

Microsoft listed the following improvements in Skype for Business Server 2015:

  • Support for the AlwaysOn feature of SQL Server
  • Video interoperability with Cisco Tandberg VTCs
  • A new "call quality dashboard"
  • Ability to reach anyone via a Skype directory search (also applies to Office 365 Skype users)

Microsoft also is extending a helping hand to its developers and partner community with a new Skype Web Software Development Kit, which is currently at the preview stage. Microsoft's partners Event Zero, Nectar and Unify Square are currently building IT pro tools to help with the product's monitoring and management details, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft is promising that upgraders to Skype for Business Server 2015 will be able to leverage "future cloud enhancements such as broadcast meetings" if they adopt a hybrid server plus cloud architectural approach. For instance, it will be possible to "broadcast Skype for Business meetings to up to 10,000 people at a time," which is a capability that Microsoft plans to enable "later this year."

Microsoft has a couple of Skype for Business improvements coming for its Office 365 subscribers this summer. There will be a "pre-loaded meeting attachments" feature that's designed to make content associated with meetings appear at the beginning of a Skype call. Next, Microsoft is planning to deliver an "in-call coauthoring" capability for documents accessed through Skype for Business.

Microsoft released a new Skype for Business desktop client application back in April. Updated mobile clients may start rolling out before year's end, Microsoft has previously indicated.

Office 365 users still may have to wait till this summer to get their hands on some Skype for Business features. For instance, "enterprise voice," which is Microsoft's term for voice-over-IP communications, is expected to be available around that time frame.

Microsoft described some of these coming features back in March. It also announced back then that Lync Room System products being built by its hardware partners would be renamed a "Skype Room System" products. Those new products will start to roll out this summer when Windows 10 is released. It will be possible to upgrade existing Lync Room System products to Skype Room Systems. A Lync Room System is a dedicated videoconferencing appliance with white-boarding capabilities.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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