The Skype for Business-Teams Transition

We’ve been using Microsoft Teams for a while now. We really like it. In our case, it also serves as our phone system. As we’ve written about previously, Microsoft is making Teams its primary collaboration platform/service. In the process, it’s putting Skype for Business Online “under the covers.” That’s all well and good, but Microsoft has done a less-than-superior job explaining how this Skype for Business-Teams transition works.

With that in mind, I was intrigued to see this article from Microsoft, announcing updated guidance on what it takes to move from Skype for Business to Teams. Given CGNET’s recent Skype for Business-Teams transition , I was hoping to see some additional clarity on the process.

The CGNET Skype for Business-Teams Transition Experience

We’ve gone through this transition ourselves; it was largely a non-event. We now use Teams for 1:1 and group chats, threaded conversations, video calling, internal audio calling, and making calls to outside phone numbers (you know, telephony). We can create Teams meetings with a single click in our Outlook client. And we can join a Teams meeting (also with a single click) right from the Teams client.

The biggest point of confusion for me has been the status of the Skype for Business client. I presumed it would just disappear with the emergence of Teams, but what would replace it? (Answer: the Teams client, of course!) Once we completed the Skype for Business-Teams transition, I stopped launching Skype for Business, thinking it wasn’t necessary anymore. As it turns out, I have to run the Skype for Business client in order to receive phone calls from outside CGNET; otherwise, they get a “subscriber not available” message. So, I’m back to running the Teams client AND the Skype for Business client. (This behavior is probably because we are running in “Islands” coexistence mode, meaning users can use both Skype for Business and Teams apps.)

Finding the Nuggets in Microsoft’s Skype for Business-Teams Transition Guidance

Getting back to Microsoft’s updated Skype for Business-Teams transition guidance, what’s of use? I’d recommend reading the source article I referenced above; it’s a good place to start. I’d also suggest reading through the considerations for Teams-only mode. There are some use cases that might be important in deciding if you want to move to Teams only. The two biggest considerations are:

  • Teams presence information (that colored dot that tells you if another user is free, in a meeting, etc.) is “not fully supported yet for Mac devices.”
  • If you have users who conduct meetings with customers or partners outside the US, those customers/partners won’t see IM chat in the meeting.

I know there’s a big push to close the Mac-PC gap, so I would expect the first consideration to be solved reasonably soon. The second consideration may take longer, but I see it as less of a show-stopper.

Help with Cloud Service Adoption

There’s one other gem in here: help with adoption management. The Skype for Business-Teams transition, doesn’t just happen. You have to encourage users to adopt Teams, or make the switch to Teams from Skype for Business. Microsoft has set up an EdX course that covers the elements of driving adoption of any Microsoft cloud service. So, this course could be valuable for other Office 365 services too! You may find some of Microsoft’s adoption process to be overly bureaucratic. But bless them for being thorough! At CGNET we tend to start with Microsoft’s adoption workflow and then adapt it to meet the needs of a given customer and adoption project.

We’d all like it if the Skype for Business-Teams transition was more of a one-click experience. But remember that Skype for Business and Teams are feature-rich services with many deployment scenarios. I know that my brain fills up quickly if I try to understand all the permutations and combinations for the Skype for Business-Teams transition. If that sounds like you too, get in touch. We can talk about your specific situation and get to a solution that will work for you.

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