Hello Readers, I hope you’re well.
Super quick one today. Microsoft has finally announced the end date for its Skype for Business Online platform in Office 365.
Today we’re announcing that Skype for Business Online will be retired on July 31, 2021. This post provides details on the retirement plan, a brief explanation of why we’re making this announcement now, and a summary of what we’re doing to help customers migrate to Teams.
What is the Skype for Business Retirement plan?
Skype for Business Online will be retired on July 31, 2021, and after that date the service will no longer be accessible. Between now and then, current Skype for Business Online customers will experience no change in service, and they’ll be able to continue to add new users as needed. However, starting September 1, 2019, we will onboard all new Office 365 customers directly to Teams for chat, meetings, and calling. Please note that the Skype Consumer service and Skype for Business Server will both be unaffected by this announcement.
Support for the integration of third-party party Audio Conferencing Providers (ACP) into Skype for Business Online has been extended to July 31, 2021, with limited support for remaining active tenants to allow additional time for transition.
Remember when Microsoft let it slip that Skype was being “Upgraded to Teams” just before Ignite in 2017? I do. Here’s a screenshot I took of the announcement in the Office 365 message centre before it was deleted.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Social media was abuzz with excitement and shock. Microsoft finally cleared up the messaging a couple of days later and made it clear that they meant Skype for Business Online only, and not Skype for Business Server. But the obvious question still remained.
How was Teams going to replace Skype Online?
At the time, Teams was still pretty new. It only hit GA in March of 2017, just 6 months before Microsoft told the world that Teams was the future. Not long after the cleared up messaging, Microsoft released a public roadmap and set themselves an aggressive target to move or replicate all of the chat, meetings and calling features from Skype Online to Teams.
To everyone’s surprise, Microsoft completed the list of 70 items very early in January 2018. Then they just kept going. This post shows just how much they achieved. At the time of writing that post, they added over 110 new features or enhancements to Teams.
Is Teams ready to completely replace Skype Online?
That’s a great question. I say absolutely. Teams does everything that Skype Online does, just 10 times better. In this post I wrote for Practical 365, I compare the two. My conclusion is that Teams is definitely ready to replace Skype Online and that the biggest difference between them is you, the user. And to just embrace Teams for its differences.
While not all will agree, I still stand by my assessment.
In the same announcement Microsoft added that they were making further “product investments to address feature requests from current Skype for Business Online customers” including:
- Dynamic 911. A feature of Microsoft Teams Phone System, Dynamic E911 automatically uses the caller’s current location to route to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) call center operated by the local government. Dynamic E911 will be delivered in Teams for the United States by the end of this calendar year.
- Shorter Retention Periods. 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.
- Teams and Skype Consumer Interop. Interop between Teams and Skype Consumer will allow users on the two services to communicate using both chat and calling. Teams and Skype Consumer Interop will be available in Teams in the first quarter of calendar year 2020.
- Contact Center Integration and Compliance Recording. At Inspire earlier this month we announced Teams partnerships with Five9, Genesys, and NICE to enable Contact Center solutions – and with ASC, NICE, and Verint to provide Compliance Recording. We’re also working with other Skype for Business Online certified partners to bring other Contact Center and Compliance Recording solutions to market for Teams.
If you ask me, these features get them even closer to replacement of Skype for Business Server.
People have been screaming for Dynamic E911 in Skype Online forever, and Microsoft is finally going to deliver it to Teams.
I had no idea just how important Skype Consumer federation is to some. I Tweeted out a roadmap update to say Microsoft was working on it and the response was huge.
Contact Centre integration and compliance recording is another big one. Microsoft had planned to open up development of these for Skype Online at one point. Even started working on APIs. Then they told everyone to down tools when the shifted focus to Teams. For many, these new APIs couldn’t come fast enough.
If you are using Skype Online, you have two years to decide where you are going. I would say to seriously start looking at Teams if you haven’t already. Two years will be gone before you know it, so don’t wait.
That’s all folks!
Would love to hear your thoughts.