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So Teams is replacing Skype – what do we know so far?

2 Nov 2017 by Emma Robinson

After the news at Ignite (and the unfortunate leak that came before it), there has been a lot of conversations about when and how Teams will be replacing Skype. We’ve collected information from the announcement, the roadmap, and the Teams on Air session that followed Ignite to try and get a clear understanding of what this change will look like. Here’s our overview of what we know so far.
Microsoft has made it clear that Teams is where development and investment will be focused. In the Teams on Air (formally Skype for Business Broadcast) session hosted after Ignite, Delanda Coleman and Lori Wright talked about ‘Intelligent Communications’ as a vision, and the next wave of ‘Unified Communications’. The presenters also answered various questions and addressed concerns of the listeners at the end of the broadcast – here are a couple of the key points.
Skype for Business Online will ‘go away’ eventually, and Teams is the ‘future platform’
During the Q&A, Lori confirmed that the Skype for Business client in Office 365 will be phased out eventually, but there were no set timescales for this – just ‘at some future point’. Development and innovation continues for on-premises Skype for Business, and this service will remain unchanged.
Change Management concerns
The fear that Teams could be imminently replacing Skype – and that organizations would be prematurely, or unwillingly pushed to the platform was also addressed. No one will be pressured to move, Lori explained, they are simply creating the tools that businesses need ‘in order to move their users when it is right for them’.
Another important aspect covered here was compatibility with third party integrations, like room systems which use Skype for conferencing. Many businesses have invested heavily in these technologies, and concerns were voiced about whether these would work with Teams. The session gave a clear answer: every element of Skype for Business that organizations have invested in will become compatible with Teams for the transition.
What will Intelligent Communication be able to do?
What will this ‘Intelligent Communication’ look like? Well, the short video included in the session mentioned the ‘rich intelligence’ that Teams will eventually gain. The platform will be able to use data analysis, and machine learning to ‘help users sort through what’s most important’, to recommend who should be attending a particular meeting for example, using data from the projects, and conversation patterns between users.
The Teams Roadmap
Microsoft released the first Roadmap for this announcement this week, showing what’s available today, and what coming. Some of the key takeaways and more imminent timelines are as follows:
Messaging:

  • A ‘unified presence’, and federated chat between Teams and Skype for Business is planned for Q1 2018.
  • Messaging, and retention policies in Q1 2018.

Meetings:

  • Audio conferencing in over 90 countries – end of 2017.
  • Application sharing/ ‘Give’ and ‘Take’ control in sharing – end of 2017

Calling:
As you might expect, this area has the most features/ additions, and the majority are in the ‘enterprise-grade’ section. At the end of 2017, Teams should have:

  • Skype for Business – Teams calling
  • Blind transfer, call blocking and forwarding, Caller ID masking, extension dialling, hold, multi-call handling, simultaneous ringing, speed dial, and the list goes on – find all the full list

Further updates
For more information on how changes will be rolled out, and when functionality will be integrated, there are various ways to keep up to date. You can find the full roadmap here, listen to the regular Teams on Air broadcasts, or read the AMA that took place recently. You can also check back on our blog regularly, as we’ll be following this transition closely, along with other interesting Office 365 product and industry news.