Microsoft is rolling out its new Skype for Business product as part of the monthly April update for Office 2013, as well as to Office 365 customers around the world, marking the end of the road for its Lync unified communications brand.
Redmond first announced that Lync was to be superseded by a new Skype for Business solution in November 2014.
The intention is to fuse the widespread user familiarity of Skype with the enterprise-grade security, compliance and control features of Lync.
Lync Online users in Office 365 will start to see Skype for Business appearing in the next few weeks, although for customers that want a little more time to prepare for the changes, administrators will be able to switch between Skype for Business and the old Lync UI.
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Skype’s Sean Wilson said Microsoft had taken the “unparalleled insight” it had gained into how Skype’s 300 million existing users work with Skype to build a more usable, familiar experience. It has included elements such as drag-and-drop file transfer, and even retained the regular Skype emoticons.
The new product is built into Office, so that features such as presence, instant messaging, voice and video calling and online meetings will become an integrated part of the Office experience.
It will also allow users to search for, and connect with, anybody in the Skype network, both inside and outside the organisation.
Skype for Business will also be made available as a cloud-based option, starting from $2 per head per month for a basic feature set.