Microsoft Bringing Changes to Skype for Business Clients
Microsoft this week announced Skype for Business client application updates for Mac, iOS and Android devices.
A new and currently available Mac client update adds full-screen sharing, one-click meetings join capability and "edge-to-edge" video. A full list of the feature changes can be found at this page. The new Skype for Business Mac client (version 188.8.131.5238) runs on the Mac OS X "El Capitan" operating system or later versions, according to Microsoft's FAQ.
Microsoft updated its Skype Operations Framework to support the new Mac client improvements. The details are described here.
The Mac client has tended to be the poor cousin, at least in terms of features support, of the various published Skype for Business clients. Mac client feature support vs. Skype for Business 2016 and 2015 clients can be seen in Microsoft's "Client comparison tables for Skype for Business Server 2015" article.
iOS and Android Clients
Microsoft also announced coming user experience improvements for iOS and Android Skype for Business clients, although the timing wasn't explained. One of them is the ability to more easily share PowerPoint slide-deck presentations, either from mobile devices or from storage services.
The other promised user experience improvement for iOS and Android devices running Skype for Business clients is a more reliable video screen-sharing capability. It's based on so-called "Video-based Screen Sharing" technology, which uses the User Datagram Protocol and works better than traditional Remote Desktop Protocol-based screen sharing, Microsoft explained, in this TechNet article. For instance, the Video-based Screen Sharing technology can better support 3-D video graphics under "low bandwidth conditions."
Skype for Business 2016 Client
There also will be Skype for Business 2016 client improvement for users of Skype for Business Online, which is the service offered via Office 365 subscription plans. Microsoft is planning to change some of the "visual elements" in the client, as shown in this announcement. The client is getting some icon changes, for instance.
The visual element changes will start rolling out to deferred channel subscribers in February 2017. However, they'll start showing up as early as next month for "current channel and first release for deferred channel" Office 365 subscribers, according to the announcement.
Consumer Skype Client Changes
The consumer version of Skype also will be getting client user-experience changes. They'll show up "over the course of the next several weeks," Microsoft announced this week.
One new change will affect conference calls. Skype conversations with multiple parties will continue even after the call initiator has disconnected.
Another change is a new "Calls" tab, which will arrive first for Android devices. Support for iOS devices will arrive later. The Calls tab replaces the "Call phones" tab and will facilitate the quick placement of audio or video calls.
Microsoft also is planning to scrap its traditional voicemail features on the consumer Skype client. Voicemail features such as "custom voicemail greetings, email notifications and SMS transcription will no longer be available," Microsoft's announcement indicated. Instead, Microsoft expects consumer Skype users to leave video messages.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.