Twelve years following its launch, it appears Skype is all grown up.
Throughout its existence, Skype has been best known as a communication tool for long-distance friends, making new ones and spur-of-the-moment journalism, but now the popular app and desktop program seems poised to officially enter the workforce following the rollout of Skype for Business.
Microsoft purchased Skype along with all of its technologies for $8.5 billion in 2011, and the new Skype for Business program is a replacement for Lync, which launched in 2011.
The Skype for Business App officially launched on iOS earlier this month and will be available in the Android marketplace later this year. Skype for Business launched to Office 365 customers earlier this year.
Improvements of Skype for Business over Lync
On the surface, the new Skype for Business is not a whole lot more than a rebrand of Lync. The program will ship along with Office 2016 software.
If you’re familiar with Skype (for fun), you will immediately feel at home with the UI from the contacts list, presence indicators, buttons and even sounds used throughout the software.
Like its predecessor Lync, and like its namesake Skype, the application allows users to make video and audio calls with their contact list and grants users access to a wide range of emoticons in instant messages.
One nice advantage of using Skype for Business is that unlike with Lync, you are able to start calls with anyone who uses Skype. This opens up use of the platform for video conferencing with clients in a way Lync was unable to do.
Differences between Skype and Skype for Business
Why should a company use Skype for Business when it can just use Skype? The Business software has several upgrades designed specifically for business users of all sizes:
1. User Roles and Call Recording
Skype was designed for individuals and there’s no accountability or roles to assign. When you tailor a product like Skype to businesses, roles are crucial.
Administrators within Skype for Business can assign permissions to features. For example, your sales staff may be allowed to make international calls, while someone in a different role may not need to make calls outside of the U.S.
Admins can also record calls and assign permissions to access recorded versions of calls. When individuals leave a company, their access can also be restricted from the platform entirely, which is pretty much required protocol for any business platform.
2. Capability for Large Conference Calls
Want to get 250 people on a conference call? Go right ahead. Regular Skype has a 25 user limit. This is very helpful for webinars and large company meetings – just don’t have everyone talk at once.
3. Integration with Outlook and Office 365
Skype for Business does an efficient job integrating with other Microsoft products and can display employees’ locations and participation status in conference calls. Meetings can also be launched from PowerPoint or Word to collaborate more quickly and efficiently. With more advanced subscription plans, you can also enable remote control of other users’ desktops through the tool.
Pricing for Skype for Business
Plans start at $2 per user per month, with upgrades such as online meetings starting at $5.50 per user per month. Skype for Business is also incorporated in Office 365 Business Essentials and Premium, which start at $5 and $12.50 per month per user respectively.
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