Skype for Business is #2 in Top 11 Unified Communications solutions

Last updated: October 24, 2019
Skype for Business
Get messaging, audio and video calls, online meetings, and sharing all in one app. Meet with up to 250 people – even if they’re not on Skype for Business. All they need is a phone or Internet connection. See contacts’ online statuses, schedule meetings, and start conversations from Office apps.

Positions in ratings


#2 in Top 11 Unified Communications solutions

#6 in Top 16 Web Conferencing services

Alternatives


The best alternatives to Skype for Business are: Microsoft Lync, WebEx, Cisco Unified Communications, GoToMeeting



Latest news about Skype for Business


2017. Microsoft Teams will replace Skype for Business



Microsoft announced that its new groupchat Teams will become its core communications platform for users running Office 365. Until now, Skype for Business was the company’s product for this. According to Ron Markezich, the company’s corporate VP for Office 365, Teams will become the “hero and primary experience for all voice, video and meetings.” Over time, Teams will replace the current Skype for Business client. Microsoft obviously knows that enterprises don’t move fast, so for those who don’t want to do away with their existing PBX systems and calling capabilities to the cloud, it’ll launch a new version of the Skype for Business server in 2018. For those who do make the transition to Teams, Microsoft promises lots of new calling features and meeting enhancements with outbound and inbound calls to and from regular phones, support for voicemail, call holding, call transfers and other standard telephony features.




2016. Skype for Business is available on Mac



Microsoft announced the launch of Skype for Business for Mac Preview  – the business-focused version of Skype’s communications services aimed at a commercial client base. I.T. administrators and individuals can sign up to test the new desktop software, which introduces features like Outlook integration, additional security, and calls that allow for up to 250 people versus Skype’s 25 max. However, Microsoft says invites will roll out first to I.T. admins before becoming more broadly available.


2015. Microsoft begins rolling out Skype For Business (to replace Lync)



Microsoft’s Skype for Business, which is designed to replace the company’s older enterprise communication tool Lync, has become publicly available. The company is also now rolling out Skype for Business Online to its Office 365 customers who currently use Lync Online. With Skype for Business, enterprise customers will have access to software that greatly resembles Skype’s consumer-facing client application in look-and-feel, but it comes with enterprise-grade security and compliance features that allow an IT organization to better administer and control the software’s use internally within an organization. Skype for Business conversations are authenticated through Active Directory and encrypted, and IT can manage the company’s user accounts and deployments. The system also interoperates with companies’ PBX systems or legacy video teleconferencing systems, if need be.


2014. Microsoft enabled video calling between Skype and Lync users



Last year Microsoft enabled Skype-Lync interoperation with text messaging and audio. Today, the video integration also becomes available. Skype users can now video call contacts on Lync, and vice versa, Microsoft announced this morning. To use the now cross-platform video calling feature, you don’t have to do anything differently from before – you just kick off the call the same way you do today. However, video calling is supported only on an up-to-date Lync 2013 client on Android, iOS or Windows and on Skype for Windows desktop. Skype is now working to expand this integration to more platforms, starting with iOS and Android. The change follows a series of deeper integrations between the two products, the latter of which will be rebranded “Skype for Business” sometime in 2015.


2014. Microsoft will rename Lync as Skype for Business



Microsoft will rebrand its enterprise communications solution Lync as Skype for Business in 2015. The change will see Lync’s interface harmonized to something close to the current Skype’s interface. Skype for Business won’t be available until next year. Lync won’t fold into Skype entirely — instead, it will remain a separate application. I saw a demo of an early version of the Skype for Business client last week, and it certainly did appear to be quite similar to how Skype looks now. Users in Skype for Business will able to call regular Skype users from the application. The rebranding fits with Microsoft's strategy to "re-invent productivity" for all, not just business. To that end, it wants to offer a unified experience across services, so consumers and businesses have similar experiences.


2011. Microsoft unplugs Skype from Asterisk



Today Digium (the developer of the open-source PBX-platform Asterisk) has notified its customers that the sales of its product Skype for Asterisk will be terminated since July 26. Recall, Skype and Digium released this Skype for Asterisk connector back in 2009. It allows companies that use Asterisk-based PBX-systems to integrate them with the Skype network and make / receive Skype-calls using the regular office phones. But the new Skype's owner Microsoft, of course, has no particular desire to support the free Asterisk, that competes with its own product Lync (MS Communications Server). So Microsoft decided not to prolong the contract with Digium. Digium assured that existing Skype for Asterisk users will be able to use their Skype-channels during two more years. It should be noted that Skype has its own service that allows any SIP-based PBX systems (including the Asterisk) to integrate with the Skype network. It's called Skype Connect (formerly Skype for SIP). And hardly Microsoft will close this service. First, it's sold by Skype, i.e. by Microsoft (and not by Digium) and it requires the subscription fee for the use of Skype-channels (4.95 euros per month). Second, Microsoft is still interested in more companies using the Skype network (even if they use IP-PBX systems other than Lync). Because, if they get linked to Skype, it will be more easy to sell them Lync that will allow to get the maximum features of the Skype network.


2010. Lync 2010 becomes social



Oh, we didn't rename our products for so long time, thought people in Microsoft and decided to rename MS Office Communications Server to Lync. The new version Lync 2010 with a status "release candidate" is already available for free download and contains a large number of new features as compared to OCS. Most interesting are social features, that we used to see more in social networks rather than in VoIP-solutions. First, the activity feeds that you can subscribe to view contact's status changes. Like in the location-services, Lync can determine the actual contact location by the network point to which he is currently connected. People search allows you to find the right person in the company by name and by the area of expertise. Another interesting feature - context call that allows users to push the conversation subject before making a call, so the contact could better prepair to the conversation. As for the new communication features, Lync 2010 supports videoconferencing streams with resolution of 720p HD as well as panoramic HD-video.   The "simultaneous call" feature allows users to redirect incoming calls to any internal number or several numbers or directly to voicemail. Voicemail in Lync 2010 will be transcribed to text in real time, so that users could read the contents of the incoming voice messages. Microsoft will also release web-client Lync Web App and a new mobile client Lync Mobile (it's not clear yet for what platforms). Commercial version of Lync 2010 is scheduled for the end of this year.


2005. Microsoft to debut Web-based Communicator

Microsoft unveiled Web-based version of its Communicator enterprise messaging software in order to offer customers increased flexibility in accessing the company's collaboration and communications tools. Dubbed Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access, the software aims to help provide customers with an additional option for accessing the software giant's corporate IM system. The company plans to introduce the latest desktop version of Communicator, labeled Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, sometime before the end of June, and has already begun manufacturing the product. According to Microsoft, using Communicator Web Access together with the company's Live Communications Server software will allow workers to access its IM system from any device connected to the Internet. Gupta called the introduction the next step in Microsoft's plan to provide "ubiquitous access to rich presence and an integrated communications experience."


2004. Microsoft to open offer three new Live Meeting subscription plans



Microsoft announced new subscription and licensing plans for its Live Meeting Web conferencing service. The software giant will offer three new subscription plans to better accommodate usage patterns and will add Live Meeting to its volume licensing programs, the most common avenue for large corporate buyers to purchase Microsoft products. Microsoft launched Live Meeting late last year, after it acquired specialist PlaceWare. The service enables users to present PowerPoint slides, jointly edit documents and perform other basic collaboration tasks over the Internet. The new Live Meeting subscription plans include a "named user" model that allows unlimited meetings with up to 15 participants for a designated user. Businesses can also sign up for a "room model" for meetings with more than 15 people taking part--useful for corporate meeting rooms, said Jennifer Callison, Microsoft's director of product management for Live Meeting.


2004. Microsoft, BT team on Web meeting software

BT will resell Live Meeting subscriptions integrated with the company's own conference calling services, according to a statement from the companies. BT also has signed on to use Live Meeting internally for its 150,000 Internet connected employees. Microsoft introduced Live Meeting last year as the outgrowth of its acquisition of Web conferencing specialist PlaceWare. The service allows businesses to present slideshow presentations and conduct more complex collaboration tasks over the Internet. Web conferencing has turned into a booming market over the past few years, with firms embracing the technology as a way to cut down on business travel. The market is led by specialist WebEx but has attracted fresh competition from Microsoft, Macromedia and others.


2003. Microsoft launches Office Live Communications Server

Microsoft is set to begin its most aggressive effort yet to sell instant-messaging services to corporations. While MSN Messenger continues to gain Web users outside the firewall, Windows Messenger became the foundation for Microsoft's loftier plans- its new business IM product - Office Live Communications Server 2003 (LCS). Here's a glimpse at what LCS can currently do: Imagine that an employee receives an Excel spreadsheet a co-worker authored. With LCS, a SmartTag appears under the author's name that allows the employee to right-click on the link in order to check the author's online status. The author may be out to lunch, or perhaps, the author is online, whereupon the employee can then launch an IM window and send the author a message. The company will charge $733 for the server software and a $25 client license per person for large-scale buyers. LCS will not work unless the company is running Windows Server 2003 software.


2003. Microsoft launches Web conferencing service Live Meeting

Microsoft unveiled its Web conferencing service called Live Meeting. It'ss based on technology the Redmond, Wash., software maker obtained when it acquired PlaceWare in early 2002. Live Meeting, like similar services on the market, is largely designed to enhance conference calls with Web content. Participants log into a central Web site, where they can then concurrently view a presentation, exchange notes or ask questions through chat software, and collaboratively edit documents. A number of companies use it for remote training seminars. Live Meeting, an essential part of Office, marks a change in the overall sweep of the product suite. For years, Office has been synonymous with the bundle of desktop applications such as Word or PowerPoint that comes with corporate computers. In the future, Office will encompass a broader collection of applications and services. With Live Meeting, for instance, customers don't download any new software, and no extra software is included in the desktop suite. All the software needed to conduct Web conferences--except for a standard browser--will remain on Microsoft servers.