Microsoft Skype for Business

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Skype for Business

by Sherry Kercher

Docid: 00011487

Publication Date: 2007

Report Type: PRODUCT


Microsoft’s Skype for Business, formerly known as Lync Server, provides a
real-time, unified platform that embraces the various methods of
communication used by enterprises. It is a desktop client for Windows and
Mac, an online service, and a mobile application for Windows Phone,
iPhone/iPad, and Android devices. This report details the main features of
the product, which has been replaced by Microsoft Teams. It will be
supported by Microsoft until 2025.

Report Contents:


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Microsoft’s Skype for Business provides organizations with a unified
communications platform.

Microsoft Company Profile

Previously known as both Microsoft Lync Server and Office Communications
Server, Skype for Business was originally launched in 2003 as a
replacement for the Exchange Instant Messenger Service included with
Redmond’s Exchange 2000 platform. The solution was later spun off as a
separate product with the launch of Exchange 2003. Microsoft bought Skype
for $8.5 billion in 2011. The company has since revamped its Lync product
and merged it with Skype technology to offer Skype for Business. It was
released in April 2015. On May 20th, 2018, Microsoft retired Skype
for Business for Windows Phone. The company released Skype for Business
Server 2019 in May, 2019. The company has replaced Skype for Business with
Microsoft Teams;

Skype for Business offers a Skype-inspired user interface that integrates
features of both Skype and Lync Server. Features that are provided include
familiar Skype icons for audio and video calling, as well as a call
monitor for keeping active calls visible while switching between apps.
Also provided is an enterprise connection with the Skype network through
IM, audio, and video, as well as an upgrade and patch process for Skype
for Business Server.


Name: Microsoft
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Phone: (425) 882-8080
Fax: (425) 706-7329
Type of Vendor: Operating System and Application
Software Provider
Founded: 1975
Service Areas: Global
Stock Symbol: MSFT (NASDAQ)

The hybrid version of Skype for Business allows customers to divide users
between Server and Online configurations based on communication needs. It
is also designed to allow for easy migration of users to the cloud as more
tools are added to the hybrid platform. The hybrid version allows
customers to use Skype for Business Server with Exchange Online. It
facilitates integration with System Center Advisor.

Skype for Business 2019 was released in May, 2019. It includes several new
features, such as cloud voicemail, call data connector, and side-by-side
migration. Cumulative Update 1 (CU1) is now available. It includes an HMTL5
based Modern Administration Control panel, which is the eventual/partial
replacement to the Silverlight control panel. It also includes SEFAUtil
abilities in native Powershell and Automatic Response Group Failover.

Key features of Skype for Business include:

  • Integration with Office 365
  • Full Lync feature set
  • Skype-inspired design
  • Support for up to 250 people
  • Authentication and encryption capabilities
  • Ability to make and receive calls on PBX phones and join meetings with
    video teleconferencing systems
  • Transfer files in IM
  • Presence, IM, audio, and HD calling
  • Integration with the Skype Directory
  • Call monitor
  • Rate My Call
  • Quick access to call controls
  • Emoticons

Table 1 displays the key features that Microsoft offers with the
different versions of Skype for Business.

Table 1. Skype for Business Key Features
Feature Online Plan 1 Online Plan 2 Server
Presence and group IM X X X
Transfer files in IM X X X
Audio and HD video calling to Skype for Business users X X X
Group HD video calling   X X
Outlook scheduling   X X
Join meetings via desktop and web browsers   X X
Anonymous joining of meetings   X X
Meeting controls for presenter, meeting lobby for
  X X
Desktop, application, and whiteboard sharing   X X
Remote control others’ desktops   X X
Record audio and video in meetings   X X
Persistent chat     X
Dial-in Audio Conferencing     X
Interoperability with video teleconferencing systems     X
Interoperability with third party dial-in conferencing
Enterprise voice functionality (E911, Call Park)     X


Microsoft’s Skype for Business is offered as Skype for Business Online
and Skye for Business Server. A hybrid deployment is also offered. The
online version is a hosted service that offers the collaboration
capabilities of Skype for Business Server 2015 as a cloud-based service.
It gives users access to presence, instant messaging, audio and video
calling, rich online meetings, and extensive web conferencing
capabilities. Client licenses are required to access
Skype for Business Online and Server features. Standard CALs allow users
or devices to connect to Skype for Business Server for presence, IM,
peer-to-peer VoIP, and HD video. For Skype for Business Server, client
licenses are available through the standalone client, with Office Pro
Plus, or by downloading the free Skype for Business Basic client.

In July 2016, Microsoft released a free browser-based version of Skype
for Business. Skype Meetings allows for chat with up to 10 people at a
time for the first 60 days, and then with up to three people. It includes
screen sharing and PowerPoint integration, among other features. Microsoft
is offering this free version in an attempt to have small businesses
upgrade to an Office 365 subscription that includes Skype. Skype for
Business 2019 was launched in the spring of 2019.

Microsoft is offering Polycom RealConnect for Office 365 in the United
States and Canada to provide cloud video interoperability to connect
devices from Polycom, Cisco, and other vendors to Skype. Skype Meeting
Broadcast to extend the reach of meetings and PSTN conferencing are also

Table 2 details the Skype for Business editions.

Table 2. Comparison of Skype for Business Editions


Business Essentials   

Business Premium

Audio, HD video, web conferencing

Up to 250 people

Up to 250 people

Join anonymously from browser or mobile   



Fully installed Office applications on up to 5 PCs or Macs per



Enterprise level support

Yes Yes
File storage and
sharing with 1 TB storage per user


Advanced meeting options


Transfer files in IM Yes



Microsoft had been offering one of the top unified communications systems
available on the market with Lync Server. The integration of Skype with
this offering adds even more value and function to the product. It
features integration with Microsoft solutions such as its Office
applications and its Active Directory service. The system can connect with
not only the firm’s MSN Messenger IM client, but with those from Yahoo!
and AOL as well. The system also provides users with the ability to
connect to the server from outside the firewall, enabling trusted
communications between two domains or host IM for business partners
through an access proxy. Users can also leverage proxy servers to host
IM-based applications that a company might not want to run on a server
with other IM traffic, such as an application that provides chat-based
customer support.


To appeal to a younger market, Microsoft redesigned Skype to add such
features as emojis and a highlight feature that is similar to Snapchat.
This design has not been well-received by users, which is reflected in the
negative feedback that has been posted in the Apple App Store.
Additionally, users have traditionally complained that Lync’s archiving
features are not a strength, especially when compared the archiving
capabilities of some third-party offerings available on the market. Users
have also complained about the platform’s administration and set-up
process. Perhaps the biggest fault with the Microsoft is its lack of
support for non-Microsoft platforms. For those who already have an IT
environment with the company’s Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory,
as well as the Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems, then installation of
Skype for Business is not a problem; however, running the systems of
Microsoft rivals will prevent the use of the Microsoft platform. It has
been replaced by Microsoft Teams, but will be supported by the company
until 2025.


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Microsoft’s Skype for Business Server is available for enterprises of all
sizes. Business Essentials is suitable for small- to medium-sized
businesses and Business Premium is suitable for larger enterprises.


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Skype for Business is available in English, French, German, Italian,
Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and both Simplified and Traditional Chinese.
The operating requirements of Skype for Office are outlined below.

Skype on Windows Desktop requires:

  • Windows 10 Version 1507 or above
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit versions supported)


  • At least 1 GHz


  • At least 512 MB

Additional software

  • DirectX v9.0 or higher


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Microsoft offers clients a host of support options. First, the company
provides its users with a set of self-service options, including technical
communities, white papers, and technical Web casts. Microsoft also offers
support and consulting options for its customers. Support for Skype for
Business will expire in 2025.


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Skype for Business with online Office 365, or Office 365 Business
Essentials, is $5.00 per user per month. Skype for Business with full,
installed Office applications for desktop, plus email, or Office 365
Business Premium, is $12.50 per user per month. Lync Server customers with
Software Assurance have rights to deploy Skype for Business. Office 365
customers with Lync Online will receive automatic updates as part of the
subscription service.


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The major competitors to Microsoft’s Skype for Business are IBM’s
Sametime; Cisco’s Jabber and Unified Communications Manager IM &
Presence Service; Avaya’s one-X Communicator; and Unify’s OpenScape

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About the Author

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Sherry Kercher is an editor for Faulkner Information
Services. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science,
and tracks and writes about storage, communication networks and equipment,
and Internet technologies.

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