Announced at Microsofts Ignite conference this week Skype for Business, Microsoft’s dedicated communications client, will no longer be Skype for Business. Instead, the firm will switch over to its existing Teams product.
Teams is less than a year old, but is set to replace Skype for Business – which itself replaced Lync in 2015 – as Microsoft’s preferred corporate chat tool. It is an extension of Office 365 Groups, pulling in various Microsoft apps like Word, PowerPoint and – yes – Skype with subject-threaded chat and plug-ins for third-party tools like Twitter.
Teams already shares features such as instant messaging (IM) and file sharing with Skype, but will now integrate other capabilities like connectivity to phone networks, bringing features like voicemail, conference calls and call transfers. This will be based on the Skype infrastructure, which already powers audio and video comms in the application.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and speech recognition are being used to improve meeting experiences, making it easier to arrange them and receive follow-up notifications.
Microsoft did not provide a timetable for the move, but analysts expect it to be complete by 2020. Customers who aren’t ready to migrate will be pleased to hear that Microsoft will launch a new Skype for Business Server next year (there has been some speculation about the on-prem platform’s future), but the company is going to encourage Office 365 users to move to Teams.
The increased emphasis on Teams, which was launched as a Slack competitor, will bring Microsoft even further into competition with the market leader – along with Cisco’s Spark and Atlassian’s Stride.