Microsoft Teams will replace Skype for Business Online

Microsoft has officially announced that it will be retiring Skype for Business Online. Initial rumblings about Teams replacing Skype came at the Ignite conference in September of 2017, however, we didn’t know exactly when Microsoft would retire the product.

Well, now we know.

When will Skype for Business be replaced by Teams?

On July 31, 2021, Skype for Business Online will be shut down.

Microsoft is very invested in Microsoft Teams, a platform that Microsoft sees at the communication hub for enterprise collaboration. Teams is growing at a blazing pace, and according to Microsoft, Teams now has 19 million monthly active users in over 500,000 organizations.

Beginning in September 2019, all new Office 365 customers will be directly onboarded to Microsoft Teams. New Office 365 users will use Teams instead of Skype.

For Office 365 subscribers that already have Skype for Business Online, there should be no changes to the service. Service will continue as normal until the shutdown date.

Three people participating in a Teams meeting using video chat.
Video chat is an effective way of connecting remote team members. Joseph is using the blur feature in Teams video chat because he works in a busy office environment.

What we like about Microsoft Teams

At Kiefer, we’ve already made the switch to Teams and we like the experience better than Skype. Here are a few of the benefits of Microsoft Teams.

A better call experience

We have experienced a high-quality audio, video, and screen sharing sessions in Teams. Our team has found that the quality is better on both wi-fi and cellular networks. Kiefer Consulting has been using Teams for our bi-weekly executive team meeting and have been very happy with the call quality as compared to Skype for Business.

Screenshot from a Microsoft  Teams Meting with 3 participants.
Joining a Teams meeting is easy. You can see all participants when you join.

I’ve also noticed that Teams will mute you by default when you are joining a meeting and you are not the first person to join. If you talk and are muted, Teams will nudge you and let you know that you are muted.

As the call organizer, you can mute an individual or all attendees. Those muted will receive a notification letting them know that their line has been muted. If an individual has been muted and has something to contribute, they’ll be able to unmute themselves.

Hosting meetings in Teams

In Teams, users from outside of our organization wait for the meeting to start in the virtual lobby. We like this feature because it provides our presenter with the opportunity to make sure everything is ready prior to an important customer meeting. This feature allows us the time to prepare the documents we intend to share, adjusting volume and take care of any other pre-meeting preparations prior to admitting the meeting attendees.

Screen Sharing in Teams

When you want to share your screen in Teams, it happens almost instantly! As a legacy Skype user, I could never get the screen sharing to work without having issues. I’d often ask for confirmation that the rest of the group was seeing what I was seeing.

If you allow someone in the Teams meeting to control your screen, you will see 2 mouse pointers and photos of the individuals controlling the mice. The “give control” feature is a bit laggy, but overall, it’s a nice feature and it makes it easier to follow an online demonstration being delivered by more than 1 person.

Screenshot from Microsoft Teams showing 2 cursors
Both Joseph’s and Scott’s mouse pointers are displayed when Scott shares control with Joseph.

Improved chat experience for larger teams

When you start using Microsoft Teams, you will discover that Teams uses one persistent thread for conversations. Persistent-chat enables you to scroll back to a previous point in the conversation thread. Persistent-chat works more like WhatsApp or iOS iMessage. This user experience is a departure from the way we used to communicate using Microsoft products. Now, you can simply jump to the conversation rather than  having to pull up a Conversation History in Outlook.

Banner to download a free infographic on Microsoft Teams

Teams is built for mobile

At Kiefer, we are big fans of the Teams mobile app. The app is up to date with conversation threads, so the experience from desktop to mobile is completely seamless.

Everything you can do in the desktop version of teams can be accomplished in the Teams mobile app, including video chat.

The Teams mobile app and desktop application simultaneously. You can share files or images on your phone while joined to the meeting through the desktop application. If you are already joined the meeting using your desktop computer, the mobile app allows you to join as a muted participant but allows you to contribute content from your mobile device.

If you are using the mobile app regularly and want to save on mobile data usage, Teams allows you to turn off the ability to receive incoming video.

File sharing in Teams

In the past, our team members would send files through Skype or send links to files that were stored in SharePoint. In order to share a file in Skype, the recipient had to be active, so it wasn’t always convenient or practical. When using Teams, the conversation thread has a Files tab. You can send a file at any time and all of the shared files can be sent to OneDrive. Teams will share the link and track it in the conversation. You can also share photos and images.

Capturing meeting notes

While we used to use OneNote in conjunction with Skype for Business, the experience in Teams seems more intuitive. A participant can contribute to shared meeting notes in Teams to quickly edit minutes or capture action items. Meeting Notes can be referenced later and are an effective way of capturing notes from the entire team.

Should I wait to replace Skype for Business?

Frankly, I would consider making the move to Teams sooner rather than later. Microsoft will continue to support and invest in Microsoft Teams and your organization should take advantage of those investments. Contact Kiefer Consulting and we can help you in a strategy to deploy Teams and replace Skype Online for Business.

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