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Microsoft Warns Skype for Business Online Ends in August

Microsoft on Thursday issued yet another reminder to organizations that Skype for Business Online will be ending on July 31, 2021, and they should be moving to Microsoft Teams.

It's just latest of several such warnings from Microsoft, with the last notable one appearing in January. Microsoft likely has been trying to prod organizations more than usual due to the complexities associated with moving from Skype for Business Online to Teams.

The general notion of such moves is to use both solutions in a "coexistence" fashion first. Later, end users get shifted over to a so-called "Teams Only" mode, where all communications happen in Teams. But there are plenty of nuances involved beyond that description.

Full Stop in August
Time is running out for organizations using Skype for Business Online, as the service won't be accessible in August.

"Skype for Business Online will be retired on July 31, 2021, after which it will no longer be accessible or supported," a Microsoft Skype for Business upgrade document explained.

This latest warning from Microsoft included a bulleted list, describing some functionality that will go away with the demise of Skype for Business Online, namely:

If organizations purchased premium licensing for Skype for Business Online capabilities, then those capabilities and the licensing will extend into Teams. Here's how it was put by Microsoft's FAQ document:

Capabilities that are premium workloads in Skype for Business Online today will continue to be premium workloads in Teams. Existing licensing investments made by customers carry forward to Teams.

Organizations won't get complete one-to-one functionality with the shift from Skype for Business Online to Teams. A list of "native interop experience limitations" can be found in this Microsoft document on coexistence and interoperability.

Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Luca Vitali also maintains a graphical chart comparison of the functionality in Teams versus Skype for Business that's downloadable here.

Microsoft-Assisted Upgrades to Teams
Some organizations using Skype for Business Online may be getting notices of scheduled "Microsoft-assisted upgrades to Teams." When these upgrades are scheduled, reminders will arrive through the Microsoft 365 Message Center and the Teams Admin Center portals at "90 days prior to the scheduled date of their assisted upgrade."

Apparently, Microsoft actually performs the upgrades under its assisted upgrades program. The upgrades typically will get completed within 24 hours, with end users able to access Skype for Business Online during the upgrade period, per this Microsoft-assisted upgrades document.

While the Microsoft-assisted upgrades program sounds nice, it's not being offered to Microsoft's enterprise customers. "Currently, we have no plans to schedule upgrades for enterprise customers," Microsoft indicated in its FAQ document.

The Microsoft-assisted upgrades program is just for Microsoft's smaller customers, per the FAQ:

In effort to support smaller customers that may not have dedicated IT resources, Microsoft is assisting with automated upgrades from Skype for Business Online to Teams. Eligible customers are notified of the upgrade through emails and Message Center notifications. More details are provided in the communications. For more information, see Automated Upgrades from Skype for Business Online to Microsoft Teams.

Possibly, enterprise customers needing help should use Microsoft's FastTrack partner program to assist with Teams upgrades, but Microsoft didn't state it. FastTrack, which just offer advice rather than an on-site visit, is available for organizations with 150 Microsoft 365 subscriptions or more.

Another resource for organizations is Microsoft's "Teams Upgrade Planning Workshops." These "live" events offer interactive planning help.

Help for 'Hybrid'
The countdown on Skype for Business Online has begun. Meanwhile, Microsoft is planning to publish additional migration guidance for Skype for Business Server users that also use Skype for Business Online.

"In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more retirement guidance for Skype for Business customers with hybrid (server + online) configurations," the announcement indicated.

About the Author

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

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