Skype For Business Begins Rolling Out Publicly Today

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Microsoft’s “Skype for Business,” which is designed to replace the company’s older enterprise communication tool Lync, is rolling out publicly today as part of the Office 2013 April update, the company announced this morning. It’s also now rolling out Skype for Business Online to its Office 365 customers who currently use Lync Online.

Microsoft had only a few weeks ago unveiled the technical preview version of this software, so it acknowledges that some customers may still require additional testing time. To that end, it’s allowing admins the ability to switch between Skype for Business and the traditional Lync user interface, Microsoft explains in a blog post this morning detailing the changes. (Information on how to continue to use Lync for the time being is available here.)

However, the transition from Lync Online to Skype for Business Online will complete for all customers by the end of May, Microsoft notes.

With Skype for Business, enterprise customers will have access to software that greatly resembles Skype’s consumer-facing client application in look-and-feel, but it comes with enterprise-grade security and compliance features that allow an IT organization to better administer and control the software’s use internally within an organization. Skype for Business conversations are authenticated through Active Directory and encrypted, and IT can manage the company’s user accounts and deployments. The system also interoperates with companies’ PBX systems or legacy video teleconferencing systems, if need be.

In addition, Skype for Business customers are now able to communicate via chat, audio and video within their own company, as well as with any of the over 300 million customers who have a Skype ID using apps that run on Android, iOS, Mac, Windows and the web.

The software is also built into Office, making features such as presence, IM, voice and video calls, as well as online meetings a part of the Office experience, Microsoft notes.

Microsoft’s plans to replace Lync were announced last year, as the company began unifying its products under the “for Business” branding. That brand also includes OneDrive for Business, Microsoft’s cloud storage service.