Skype is Retiring. It’s Time to Move to Teams.

Microsoft teams

Written by Dan Callahan

I'm the VP of Global Services at CGNET. I manage our Cybersecurity and Cloud Services businesses. I also provide consulting and handle a lot of project management. I wear a lot of hats. Professionally, I'm a builder of businesses. Outside of work, I'm a hobby farmer, chef, skier, dog walker, jokester, woodworker, structuralist, husband and father.

February 11, 2021

** Quick Update: Thanks to one of our customers for pointing out to us that the Skype retirement is ONLY for Skype for Business Online. Skype for Business Server is not affected by this! **

Are you using Skype for Business Online? If you are, you should know that Skype is retiring, and soon. July 31st, to be exact. This means that it is time to move to Teams. Before I describe your options for moving to Teams, let me share a bit of good news: the transition will happen even if you do nothing.

That bit of good news might also be bad news for you. It all depends on the approach you want to take in implementing Teams. You have three options.

  • Do nothing. As I will describe below, the move to Teams is hard-wired into your Microsoft 365 service. OK, you should probably send users a note that as of August 1st, they will need to use Teams for things like chat.
  • Move to Teams yourself. The technical work is not that involved, especially if you will be using Teams “out of the box.” (Meaning, not with third-party services like Box or Zoom.) I will highlight the resources available below.
  • Move to Teams with some help. (Guess who?!) You may have the IT resources to stand up Teams. Or you may need to outsource the job. In either case, you know by now that rolling out a technology service has as much to do with adoption and change management as it does with the technical bits.


Here are the Skype-to-Teams Upgrade Methods


Let me start by saying that I am not going to address moving to Teams for organizations that are using Skype for telephony. If that describes your organization, let me know as the move is more complicated.

Microsoft has defined two ways to move to Teams, using two methods and modes (I know, it is a bit confusing).

  • Overlapping Capabilities method (using Islands mode)
  • Select Capabilities method (using Coexistence mode)

Before I go on to describe each method, let me note that the Overlapping Capabilities method is set by default. If you no nothing, this is the experience users will have as you move to Teams.


Overlapping Capabilities Method


In the Overlapping Capabilities method (as the name suggests) Skype for Business Online and Teams capabilities overlap. Skype for Business users can use the Skype client app to chat with and call other users, whether on Skype for Business or Teams. If you use the Overlapping Capabilities method as you move to Teams you have the advantage of giving users time to get comfortable with Teams and the Teams client. However, this also means that users will contend with two client apps that do the same thing. This can lead to confusion.


Select Capabilities Method


If you use the Select Capabilities method to move to Teams, you specify which capabilities are to be handled by the Skype client app and which will be handled by the Teams app. Adding to the fun, there are two flavors of Coexistence mode you can choose from. One includes how meetings are scheduled and the other does not. The Select Capabilities mode is intended for organizations with more complicated Skype for Business implementations, such as having both on premises and cloud Skype servers. Microsoft says that the Select Capabilities mode gives organizations time for a “more orderly transition” to Teams. But let’s be honest. With less than six months before Skype goes away, you do not have much time left.


These Resources Can Help You Move to Teams


Whether you want to engage with an expert (hint) or not, you may want to at least educate yourself on what the move to Teams is going to involve. Microsoft has provided several resources that you will find useful.

  • You can access Teams Admin documentation that will help you understand and plan your move to Teams.
  • You can join a Teams upgrade workshop, led by Microsoft, that will help you understand the process. (My advice: act quickly to sign up.)
  • If you would prefer, you can watch the video from a Teams upgrade workshop that has already been held.

And if you want to read the Skype retirement announcement (which has a lot of other useful links), go here.

Whatever method you choose to move to Teams and off Skype, you will be happy once you are there. I hope these tips help you get there with a minimum of fuss.

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