Microsoft Skype for Business Review – a bite sized intro
All about Microsoft’s office communication tool
Skype for Business by Microsoft was previously known as Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Office Communicator. Today, it’s a popular instant-messaging client that can be used alongside Skype for Business Online or Skype for Business Server – solutions available with Microsoft Office 365. The Skype for Business system was effectively designed to replace the old Windows Messenger solution that ran alongside the Microsoft Exchange Server.
A type of enterprise software, Microsoft Skype for Business includes a range of applications and features that are specifically designed to improve efficiency and productivity within businesses.
The History of Microsoft Skype for Business
Originally, Microsoft created “Office Communicator 2007” and launched it on the 27th of October 2007, followed quickly by Office Communicator 2007 R2, which emerged in March 2009. The successor to Office Communicator was Lync 2010, which was introduced on the 25th of January 2011, and required the use of Windows 7, Windows XP, or Windows Vista. Within a short period of time, Lync was released for Android, Windows Phone, and iOS platforms, before being succeeded by Lync and Lync Server 2013 in 2012.
During 2014, Microsoft released an announcement informing the world that this new application would be replacing Lync. The system was intended to combine features of consumer-based Skype software, and Lync business interfaces to provide a productivity solution for companies of all shapes and sizes. In April of 2015, Skype for Business was officially launched. Since then, it has become the go-to solution for many collaboration requirements throughout the industry.
In September 2015, Skype for Business 2016 was released with Office 2016, and on the 27th of October 2016, the Skype for Business client for Mac computers was introduced.
The Features of Skype for Business
The basic features of Skype for Business are still comprehensive and quite wide-ranging, which is what helps this program to be so popular in the communications industries. Features range from video conferencing, to VoIP and instant messaging. Some of the more advanced features available come from integration with other Microsoft Software, such as a contact list stored on the Microsoft Exchange server, or the ability to retrieve contact lists from local directory services.
As the usability of Skype for Business evolved, companies can now use Microsoft Office to see other people working on the same documents, with communications moving through a Microsoft Lync Server for absolute security. There are a range of clients available for Lync, including mobile clients, and SIP is used as the basis for the client communication protocol. Microsoft Skype for Business offers SRTP and TLS encryption support, and permits the fast and effective sharing of files.
The “Persistent Group Chat” feature for collaboration was introduced in 2012, which allowed for multi-party chat between groups, however it was only native to the Windows OS client. The main features of the newest version include the addition of collaborative multi-client real-time software capabilities which allow people to work on the same documents simultaneously. Lync implements various features, including:
- Whiteboard document collaboration.
- PowerPoint document collaboration
- Polling lists
- Desktop sharing
- Windows application sharing
Each collaboration is automatically defined as a conference, allowing clients to add and remove contacts as they choose. What’s more, the initiators of the conference can promote participants to presenters, or demote them to attendees.
Skype for Business clients are available with:
- Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile
- Windows and Mac
Skype for Business Extensions
Lync uses a range of extensions to the Simple instant messaging protocol. Like most platforms for instant messaging, any non-Microsoft instant messaging clients that haven’t implemented these extensions may struggle to achieve complete functionality.
At present, Lync supports IM and federated presence within a range of popular instant messaging services including MSN, Yahoo, and AOL, alongside any service that uses the XMPP protocol. Instant messaging and texting through web browsers is available with the Exchange Outlook web app. What’s more, other IM protocols such as Yahoo! and AIM have wider support from a range of third-party clients with protocols that have been reverse-engineered through outside developers.