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Microsoft releases Skype for Business Client for Office 2013

Microsoft today as planned is releasing the Skype for Business client just weeks after introducing the Technical Preview. The company announced the release of the new Skype for Business as part of the Office 2013 April rollout. All Office 365 customers are scheduled to receive the update by the end of May.

Organizations not ready to let their users transition to the new Skype for Business client can allow administrators to switch back to the existing Lync interface, Microsoft said. The company posted instructions for how customers can roll back to the current Lync client, both for shops with Lync Online and those with Lync Server.

A new version of the Lync Server, to be called Skype for Business Server, is scheduled for release next month. Microsoft said in March that the new server edition will support high availability including support for the company's AlwaysOn capability included in SQL Server.

Skype for Business is the new phone and conference interface that replaces Lync and will bring the look and functions of Skype to Office. Microsoft claims that more than 300 million consumers use Skype, which Microsoft acquired in 2011 for $8.5 billion, its largest acquisition to date. Now comes the litmus test on whether Microsoft will get bang for its buck. By integrating the enterprise features of Lync with the interface of Skype, Microsoft is hoping it can raise the profile of its communications technology among business and enterprise users.

Microsoft first indicated plans to integrate Lync with Skype and give it the Skype brand late last year and released the technical preview of the new Skype for Business client at last month's Convergence conference in Atlanta. Skype for Business represents Microsoft's latest effort to give it an even stronger foothold in universal communications, which it has long aspired to do. Microsoft introduced Lync nearly five years ago as a revamped iteration of its Office Communications Server.

The company is hoping that the familiarity and access to all of the 300 million users Microsoft claims Skype has will increase its appeal and usage both within businesses and among consumers. Microsoft says Skype for Business has "enterprise-grade security" and controls for compliance. Just like the existing Skype and Lync clients, the new Skype for Business provides IM, presence, voice and video calls and meetings. With this new release, Skype is integrated directly into Office.

In the new client, users can initiate and control calls from their Office contact lists. It also brings the Skype emoticons to discussions, improved file transfer including the ability to drag and drop, the ability to let recipients see file details including the file's size and name and it lets users take notes from within the clients via OneNote. It also includes the Skype call monitor.

How quickly do you see your organization using Skype for Business?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 04/14/2015 at 10:26 AM


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