It’s Coming… Skype for Business

Within the Lync community, we have all been waiting for the inevitable. Finally, it’s been announced: Lync 2013 will be rebranded Skype for Business. Note the terminology I’ve used here: rebranded. Skype is not replacing Lync 2013, it’s simply adopting the name. Whilst there has been endless discussions about what this means for integrators and end users, I personally am for it, and can understand Microsoft’s desire to use a well known brand (I mean, it’s also a verb) to help end users identify with what Universal Communications is. Many a time when I’ve been trying to describe to non technical friends and family what I do for a living, I’ve usually phrased it as “Skype for the workplace”, or “Skype on steroids”. If nothing else, the rebranding may help get the UC message across to an even larger audience.

What’s going to change?

When Skype for Business is released next year, there will be an in-place server upgrade, and a new client to deploy. It’s important to note that no modifications need to be made to existing Lync 2013 infrastructure to support Skype for Business. The prerequisites required are identical. This should allay any fears clients should have around if/when they deploy or migrate to Lync 2013. A full side by side migration (as was required when migrating from OCS to Lync 2010 or Lync 2010 to Lync 2013) will not be required. Additionally, all Lync phones, video conferencing endpoints, headsets, gateways, etc will be fully supported on the Skype for Business platform.

What’s the difference between Skype and Skype for Business?

Skype will continue to be the consumer product offered to the public. Skype for Business on the other hand, will be the Enterprise grade solution for organisations that need more. What exactly is more? Here are some of the differences:

  • Skype is free, Skype for Business is paid and subject to licensing
  • Skype is subject to ads, Skype for Business is not
  • Skype offers limited PSTN calling, Skype for Business can be deployed with full Enterprise Voice functionality, including call centre integration, call park, delegation, advanced call routing, integration with 3rd party gateway and legacy PABX systems
  • Skype does not have a web client, Skype for Business does
  • Skype has limited conferencing capabilities, Skype for Business offers a rich conferencing experience, including audio/video/desktop sharing/application sharing/whiteboarding/meeting recording/the list goes on.

If you want to read more about Skype for Business, get a look at the new client and watch a short demo, head over to the Skype Blog.

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