Out with the Old, and In with the New: Skype to Teams

July 31, 2021 marks a very special day.

No, it is not the day of your birthday, nor is it the day of your anniversary.

It is the day that Skype for Business is set to phase out.

Shocked? Well, you shouldn’t be! In fact, Microsoft previously cited October 1st, 2018, as the deadline for offering Skype for Business Online to any new customers, and starting September 1, 2019, Microsoft has been onboarding all new Office 365 customers directly to Teams for chat, meetings, and calling capabilities.

However, this does not affect current Skype for Business Online customers, who will still be able to continue using the service and adding new users as needed, up until the July 31st, 2021 retirement deadline.


So why is Microsoft switching from Skype for Business to Teams?

Well, let’s face it. Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business have always had some overlap when it comes to functionality.

Both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams involve team chats, direct messaging, and voice calling. Though Microsoft Teams originally didn’t have the calling capacity that Skype did, it still had both voice chat and video calling functionality.

Hence, it does make sense that Microsoft would want to combine the products. And in reality, Microsoft has been moving in this direction for quite some time now!

I mean, in the past, Microsoft Teams had already incorporated some functionality from Skype. So this new Skype for Business integration is simply going to bring more of Skype’s functionality into the Microsoft Teams platform.

Simply put, Microsoft wans to provide organizations with a single hub for teamwork.

Moreover, when it comes to Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business, organizations are no longer required to choose between the two. Instead, Microsoft Teams will ultimately encompass the functions of Skype for Business, in a single collaborative platform. In reality, this makes it much easier for businesses to invest in and manage their collaborative software solutions.

But what’s the similarities and differences you may ask? Well, read on to find out more!


Skype for Business VS Microsoft Teams


Persistent Chat

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business both enable real-time chat. However, in Skype for Business, once a chat was closed or the working day was over, the chat was lost. Chat logs were also kept in Outlook or Exchange, but the conversation ended when the chat was deemed over or timed out.

Cue the introduction of persistent chat in Microsoft Teams.

So for as long as you need to retain the information sent or received in a chat, you can keep it in your chat channel. This applies for both one to one messaging and team messaging. And it’s not just your messages, emojis and GIFs that will be retained. Images, files and links too will be retained, so you wouldn’t have to worry about lost chats anymore!


Team Messaging

Like persistent chat from one person to another, teams can be created to produce an ongoing stream of information for a set topic. Teams can be setup on a per department basis, per project, per customer or any basis desired. Moreover, users can share messages, files, emojis, GIFs and stickers with other members of the specified team.

In addition, within the team, users can also start a team meeting by hitting the Meet Now button. When you hit Meet Now, the screen will launch a pre-meeting screen. This transforms your team messaging interface into a full meeting experience.


Meetings

Many meeting features will be similar to Skype for Business, making Teams adoption simple and intuitive. Common features like call recording, screen sharing and file uploads are all retained in Microsoft Teams.

New features to start utilizing in Microsoft Teams include:

  • Background blur
  • Customized backgrounds
  • Whiteboard masking — this means when someone is physically drawing on a whiteboard, their body won’t be in the way
  • Live captions
  • Live events with access available to users outside of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Integration

When you migrate to Microsoft Teams, the Teams app store is full of your most used and most critical apps that can be added to your Microsoft Teams tenant as a “tab”.

The Teams app store features hundreds of apps that bring your favorite apps into Microsoft Teams. This reduces time spent switching between apps and tabs and frees up hours of productivity.


Guest Access

If you used the federation capability in Skype for Business, you will already know the benefits of enabling a common chat app between external parties. For example, sales teams can communicate with their customers and partners if both parties have Skype for Business — and both turn on federation.

For any supplier/buyer relationship or external consultant environment, federation was a great way for external parties to remain connected without resorting to email or a phone call.

In Microsoft Teams, the experience differs due to the team collaboration environment. Federation does not currently exist for one to one messaging. Instead, Microsoft enables guest access so that external parties with Microsoft Teams accounts of their own can act as guests in your Microsoft Teams team.

Here, the user can access files, messages and meetings of the team they are invited to — even if they are part of another organization. Guest access doesn’t grant full access to the external party. Admins are able to prescribe what can and cannot be accessed by guests.

TLDR? Basically, guest access in Microsoft Teams gives access to an individual. Federation in Skype for Business gives access permission to an entire domain.


File Storage

When you create a new team in Microsoft Teams, this also creates a new SharePoint site in your Microsoft back end. Because of this, each document or file that you upload to the team — either in the team messaging area or to the files tab — will be saved in SharePoint.

You will, of course, need the necessary licensing to achieve this. Microsoft Teams Free doesn’t include SharePoint access. Restriction on usage also applies in the free version. The limit for file storage is set as 2GB per user in Microsoft Teams Free and 1TB per user in paid versions.


Shorter Retention Periods

On the other hand, if you do not want persistent chat of keeping your messages for as long as you want it to, there is another option for you.

New retention period options will allow customers to limit channel and chat retention periods to as short as 1 day and ensure that when data is deleted it is removed from all permanent storage locations in the Teams service.  Shorter Retention Periods will be available in Teams by the end of this calendar year.


When should I get started?

While the 2021 deadline sounds far away, the transition can take longer than anticipated, so it’s critical for IT teams to get started!

Based on Microsoft’s own experience with this transition, Microsoft recommends a phased approach:

  1. Gain executive buy-in and highlight the value of Microsoft Teams
  2. Incent early adopters to adopt Teams Only mode to experience streamlined communication and collaboration
  3. Encourage Microsoft Teams users to share quick wins and best practices with the rest of the organization

Want to switch to Microsoft Teams now? Click the green button below to contact us today!


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