Microsoft has announced that Skype for Business Online will be giving way to ‘Teams’, with support for Skype for Business ending on 31 July 2021, and all new Microsoft 365 customers due to get Microsoft Teams by default from 1 September 2019.
What Is Teams?
Introduced back in November 2016, ‘Teams’ is a platform designed to help collaborative working and combines features such as workplace chat, meetings, notes, and attachments. Described by Microsoft as a “complete chat and online meetings solution”, it normally integrates with the company’s Office 365 subscription office productivity suite, and Teams is widely considered to be Microsoft’s answer to ‘Slack’.
Slack is a popular, multi-channel collaborative working hub that offers chat channels with companies and businesses you regularly work with, direct voice or video calls and screen-sharing, integrated drag-and-drop file sharing, and an App Directory with over 1,500 apps that can be integrated into Slack.
Back in July 2018, Microsoft introduced a free, basic features version of Teams which did not require an Office 365 account, in order to increase user numbers and tempt users away from Slack.
According to Microsoft figures announced in July, Teams now has 13 million users which are more than Slack’s 10 million users. Microsoft is keen to promote Teams as a new communications tool rather than just an upgrade to Skype for Business.
End of Skype For Business
Microsoft originally announced at the end of 2017 that Teams was set to replace Skype for Business as Microsoft’s primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365.
With this in mind, Microsoft ended support for Skype for Business at the end of July, will be giving all new 365 customers Teams by default from 1 September and has said that current Skype for Business Online customers won’t notice any change in service in the meantime.
Migration and Interoperability
Microsoft has announced investment and interoperability that will ensure a painless migration to Teams for Skype for Business Online. For example, from the first quarter of 2020 customers on both platforms will be able to communicate via calls and text chats, DynamicE911 will work in Teams, and Teams also includes contact centre integration and compliance recording solutions.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Microsoft is succeeding in challenging and overtaking its competitor Slack in the business collaborative working communications tools market. Brand reach and power coupled with a free version, and now compulsory migration for existing and default for new users has seen Teams reach the point where, as planned by Microsoft more than two years ago, it can ably replace Skype for Business.
It appears that Microsoft is making efforts and investing to ensure that the migration is as smooth for (and attractive to) existing Skype business customers as possible and that the voice and video capabilities, cognitive and data services and insights that Teams offers should add value that could translate into advantages and extra efficiencies for users.