While everyone was busy expecting a new teleconferencing tool for business from Google, Microsoft has announced the general availability of its new Skype for Business clients. Skype for Business Online is also rolling out to global Office 365 customers, an automatic process that is expected to complete by the end of May 2015.
Skype has come up with some great initiatives recently. Last week, updates for the original platform included modernizing its Skype Translator tool by adding extra languages like Mandarin and Italian to its list. Microsoft’s latest product SfB is totally new system and is aims to take inter-office communication to a different level. Skype for Business could accommodate up to 250 users in a conference. If any client is not using the new platform yet, the new conferencing system will be able to connect with anyone with a phone or Internet connection.
More than 300 million people use Skype to communicate. The new Skype based business platform allows customers to search for and connect with, anyone on the Skype network, whether they are inside or outside the organization. Most hardware and software solutions that are compatible with Office 2013 can also handle Skype for Business. This new Skype for Business is built into Office, so features like IM, voice and video calls, presence and online meetings are all now packed into Office components. The new platform will also add to the features currently available on Lync and deliver enterprise-grade security, compliance and control to IT.
The new Skype for Business users will be rolled out soon for the current users of Lync Online within Office 365. Through SfB integrated with MS office, one can make use of the contact information and calendars from Outlook and Skype can be opened through office programs like Word or Powerpoint. As means to help customers who need longer time to prepare, Microsoft is offering the ability for administrators to swap between Skype for Business and the traditional Lync user interface. Admins can set control for employee accounts for them to stay focused on business.
Privacy is top-ranked for any businesses, so all the conversations are kept as secured as possible by encryption and authentication. Some companies have already invested in PBX phones and other conferencing devices, knowing that Skype for Business is designed to work the equipment you already own, with the goal of moving users to the cloud overtime. The new platform is more user-friendly than the Lynch Online, claims the company.
SfB is available as part of Office 365 subscription packages or even as a standalone plan. There are range of pricing plans for the users to choose from. The basic package starts from $2.00 per user per month. The most advanced and comprehensive plans will need to join one of Microsoft’s most referred partner solutions which provice server and cloud support.
This step is necessary if Microsoft is to be considered very important in the business world. It already has Microsoft Azure, one of the well known and best cloud platforms competing against IBM, Amazon Web Services and a few other household names but it requires services that compliment that cloud services. Skype for Business is definitely a good start. Microsoft already has captured almost every desktop that has a business account with Office. Now it’s on its way to promote and unveil new services like OneDrive, Sway and Windows 10 to business customers.
The unveiling of Skype for Business falls closely with the theme of Microsoft’s 2015 Convergence conference. At this year’s event, CEO Satya Nadella targeted on the key theme of building “systems of intelligence” and empowering individuals, businesses and industries with new technologies. On his key note speech, Nadella acknowledged that companies should leverage collaborative tools that enable them to share more information. Convergence was the site announcements like the Skype for Business technical preview and updates to Office Delve.