Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Skype For Business: 8 Ways It's Better Than Lync

  • This spring, Microsoft launched Skype for Business, replacing its unified communications platforms Microsoft Lync 2013 and Lync Online. Integrated with its Office 365 service, the new product added a new client experience, new server release, and online service updates. The concept was to provide businesses the ability to connect with more Skype users outside their enterprise networks while maintaining enterprise security and reliability.

    The new business platform is based on Skype, which more than 300 million people currently use to communicate. It allows customers to search for, and connect with, anyone on the Skype network, whether they're inside or outside their organization. Most hardware and software solutions that are compatible with Office 2013 can also handle Skype for Business.

    Skype for business is built into Office, so features like IM, voice and video calls, presence, and online meetings are all now integrated Office components. The new platform offers the features formerly available on Lync and delivers enterprise-grade security, compliance, and control to IT.

    Adopting Skype for Business provides organizations the old features of Lync with the simplified look and feel of a consumer-grade application. Among the many benefits of this iteration is that employees can now more easily connect to internal and external users, while at the same time reducing the administrative efforts required for managing different IM and calling tools. Read on to learn more about the new features in Skype for Business and how the platform has improved upon Lync.

  • Easy User Experience

    Skype for Business provides a similar look and feel as Skype for Desktop and offers a more simplified user interface compared to the Lync client. Icons, presence indicators, contact lists, buttons, and several quick-action tasks, such as adding another contact during a conversation, will feel similar to users familiar with the older clients. This new design is more user friendly, which should increase the rate of adoption in organizations.

    (Image: Microsoft)

  • Desk Phone Integration

    Skype for Business can seamlessly integrate with existing private branch exchange (PBX) systems deployed in organizations. With this integration, employees can contact their co-workers using Skype for Business to place calls, while at the backend, audio call flow is routed through existing desk phones.

    Also, when using Skype for Business to make calls from a mobile client, the user's number appears to the call recipient as the company-assigned phone number and not the mobile number, as if the call is made using an internal corporate phone.

    This audio integration helps organizations leverage calling devices to their full potential while providing a better audio and video calling experience and better business connectivity.

  • Skype Directory

    Lync users were once allowed to connect with other users via Active Directory integration or organizational federations. The new Skype for Business allows users to connect with all Skype users across the world directly, just by using their corporate IDs. This eliminates the requirements of using different chatting and calling tools for different user groups, and allows users to connect with clients, partners, vendors, and other co-workers even when they are not part of the corporate directory.

  • The Mobile Experience

    Skype for Business has made improvements in providing seamless support for a variety of devices, including mobile phones and tablets, and offers advantages including an enhanced meeting experience, single sign-on support for Office tools, and access to conversation history. It also provides an auto-accept feature for IM conversations, which prevents server time-out messages if a mobile user doesn't respond to a conversation immediately.

    (Image: Microsoft)

  • No New Hardware

    Organizations already using Lync Server with Software Assurance will get the benefit of deploying Skype for Business with a new, already-in-place upgrade feature. This feature utilizes existing Lync Server 2013 hardware and server investments, reducing the deployment costs of Skype for Business Server.

    Organizations that are already using Lync online will automatically receive updates for Skype for Business as part of the subscription service.

  • Call Quality Data

    Similar to Skype for Desktop, Skype for Business provides a feature to rate the user calling experience once you are done with the conversation. This allows administrators to analyze audio and video call quality, tracking performance so they can troubleshoot problems and plan for further enhancements.

    (Image: Microsoft)

  • Quick Access To Call Controls

    Skype for Business provides users with a quick access bar to control call functions. While participating in a call that engages a public switched telephone network (PSTN), a dial pad is visible on the screen. Even if the calls are non-PSTN, all call controls and the dial pad can be accessed with just one click.

    Operations to control the call include hold, pause, speaker volume, transfer call, and manage devices such as mic, and they provide users with full control to facilitate effective conversations during meetings.

    (Image: Microsoft)

  • Call Monitoring

    Skype for Business offers a Call Monitoring feature that provides users with a compact call monitoring window on their screen that makes the active call visible even if the user is simultaneously working on another task. The window provides its own quick-access bar to mute the call and end the active conversation. The feature is available for both audio and video calls.

    (Image: Microsoft)