Today’s post was written by Giovanni Mezgec, general manager for the Skype for Business team.
Today at Convergence, our CEO Satya Nadella encouraged companies to embrace the open exchange of information using intelligent, collaborative tools that enable people and organizations to achieve more. Delivering technology that helps people connect—to discuss, share and collaborate—is central to Microsoft’s mission to reinvent productivity.
We announced last November that the next version of Microsoft Lync would become Skype for Business. I am thrilled to announce that the technical preview of the Skype for Business client starts today, and that the new client, server and online service will become generally available starting in April! The tech preview gives current Lync customers a chance to trial Skype for Business and get ready to upgrade.
Skype for Business is based on the familiar Skype experience that millions of people around the world know and love.
Based on the familiar Skype experience that more than 300 million people use every month to connect with friends and family, Skype for Business delivers an expanded Lync feature set and enterprise-grade security, compliance and control to IT. It also enables people to search for and connect with anyone in the Skype network—inside or outside their organization. And Skype for Business is built right into Office, so features like presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online meetings are an integrated part of the Office experience.
Skype for Business is built right into Office, so it’s easy to initiate an IM, voice or video call right from many different Office applications.
How to prepare for Skype for Business
Now is the time to start planning your deployment, and our partners are ready. Our elite launch partners have the highest level of experience, training and commitment to the Skype for Business platform, and are able to deliver on a global scale. The broader system integrator channel is ready too. We have seen a five-fold increase in partners deploying Lync in the cloud over the past year, and over 80 percent of the channel have been trained on Skype for Business. You can use Microsoft Pinpoint to find a local partner.
Most existing software and hardware solutions that are qualified for Lync 2013 will also be compatible with Skype for Business, thanks to the efforts of our hardware, software, IT pro tools and network infrastructure partners. As a result, current Lync customers can get quickly up and running with Skype for Business with the solutions they’re already using. Watch for announcements from many of our partners this week, and see TechNet for more details on solutions qualified for Skype for Business.
Current Lync customers are in prime position to modernize communications with Skype for Business. We invite you to join the technical preview today and connect with a skilled partner to start planning your upgrade. And stay tuned—we’ll be sharing more on the future for Skype for Business later this week at Enterprise Connect in Orlando, FL.
Join our YamJam to ask your questions
On Wednesday, March 18th, the O365 Network will host a Skype for Business YamJam from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EST. For those unfamiliar with a YamJam, it is similar to a “TweetJam” on Twitter or an “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” on Reddit, except it takes place on Yammer. In this YamJam, customers and partners can connect directly with the Skype for Business Technical Product team to ask questions and learn more about the announcement. Join the Skype for Business group to participate.
Frequently asked questions
Q. What is Skype for Business?
A. Skype for Business (formerly Microsoft Lync) is a communications and collaboration platform that brings together an experience inspired by Skype with enterprise-grade security, compliance and control. It offers features including presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online meetings. Since it is built right in to Microsoft Office, initiating chats, calls and meetings is an integrated experience within Office.
Q. How can I access the technical preview of the Skype for Business client?
A. Current Lync customers in the U.S. can access the Skype for Business Client Preview in the TechNet Evaluation Center. Customers outside the U.S. can access it here. The Skype for Business Client Preview will be available from March 16 – April 30, 2015.
Q. What is the difference between the Skype for Business technical preview and the Office 16 preview also announced today, which also includes Skype for Business?
The Skype for Business technical preview announced today is for the new Skype for Business client rolling out to current Lync customers starting next month. The Office 16 preview announced today, which also includes Skype for Business, currently provides an advanced look for IT pros and developers at the next version of Office for Windows desktop, rolling out in the second half of this year. Lync customers are encouraged to download the Skype for Business technical preview so they can prepare their organization for the changes that are only a few weeks away.
Q. How can I learn more about the new client features?
A. More information about the features available in the new Skype for Business client are available here.