During COVID-19, unified communication apps have become increasingly popular and essential to many businesses. According to Juniper Research, systems like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom and Skype for Business have seen a significant growth in their user-base, hitting a combined 4.3 billion users in 2020. Microsoft recently announced that they intend to retire Skype for Business in July 2021 and replace it with Microsoft Teams. But what is the difference between Skype and Microsoft Teams and why is transitioning to Teams beneficial for your business?
The capabilities and set of experiences offered by Teams are far more advanced than Skype for Business. Teams expands on the capabilities of the previous system by bringing together chat, apps and files in an integrated user interface, allowing those who use it to move faster and collaborate efficiently. As the primary application for meetings and calling in Office 365, Teams has all the functions of Skype for Business, plus extra communication and collaboration features. Due to this, it’s in the process of replacing Skype as Microsoft’s core communications system.
As Teams includes all the functionality of Skype, there’s no real reason for businesses to be choosing Skype as their main communications platform. Microsoft announced that it wanted to create a single platform that unifies collaborative requirements for working professionals and having developed Teams, it can retire its older products which are less advanced.
Since September 2019, customers signing up for Office 365 are automatically set up with Microsoft Teams. Skype will still be supported by Microsoft and organisations who communicate via Skype will still be able to use it until its retirement date in 2021. Customers can continue using Skype independently, make the move to Teams immediately, or use the two platforms side by side until Skype is discontinued.
In 2011, Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5billion. Microsoft began integrating the platform with their existing products and in 2013, Microsoft phased out Windows Live Messenger and Lync in favour of Skype. Before Microsoft took over, Skype allowed both instant messaging, voice and video calls between registered users. When Microsoft acquired the product, they took over the development of existing Skype desktops and mobile apps and began to develop its functions and features. In comparison, Teams was created and developed by Microsoft rather than obtained and developed, like Skype.
Both platforms are widely used for meetings, messaging and voice/video calling, but there are noticeable differences between the two, particularly on feature set. At its core, Skype is a communications platform created for video and audio calls, and later adapted for business. Teams is a product built from the ground up to do this in a workplace, but also integrate with Microsoft Office 365 – a huge boost for users of the platform.
Microsoft Teams has been coined as a collaboration experience that brings together conversations, chat and content. Teams includes chat, video and audio calling, plus other communication features like app integration, file storage and collaboration tools. Teams lets you set appointments, conferences and events, share files and content, engage in audio and video calls, create groups and more.
Lets’ look at meetings as an example. Teams meetings are similar to Skype in terms of setup, inviting participants and sharing video and content. However, Teams has more intelligent actions, like background blur which makes the experience smoother. The user-friendly interface allows you to participate in a video or voice call, while also accessing your other conversations and create sub-conversations in the same channel.
Another main attraction of Microsoft Teams is that it can be converted from an internal communications tool into a fully-fledged business PBX system via Direct Routing. This turns Teams into your phone system with true unified communications capability.
If your organisation is already taking advantage of the functionality of Microsoft Teams, we suggest using Direct Routing to turn it into your business’ main communications system. By migrating from Skype to Teams, you can use Direct Routing to turn it into a fully-fledged business communications tool.
While Teams is mainly used as an internal communications messaging tool, Microsoft have developed a way for the platform to be used as a business phone system. Direct Routing allows you to convert Teams into your PBX and to connect your Teams instance to your own telephony provider (like us for instance!), rather than choosing Microsoft’s own inflexible (and more expensive) calling plans.
The way it works is by linking the system to the PSTN using a Microsoft-certified and compatible Session Border Controller (SBC) and SIP Trunks. You can connect your SBC to almost any telephony trunk or third-party PSTN equipment. We host a Teams-certified SBC within our own network, which we connect to our SIP Trunks. We add another trunk between the SBC and Teams so we can configure the line and connect this up with your Teams accounts.
Instant messaging and unified communication apps have been in demand during COVID-19. Skype and Teams have increased in the number of daily active users by almost 70% this year. In March 2020, Skype passed 40 million users. In comparison, Teams grew to 75 million daily users. While both systems are extremely important – especially in today’s climate – Teams is surpassing Skype and is the obvious choice when moving from Skype to another messaging system. So how do you make the move?
Moving from Skype to Teams is a simple process. Instead of cancelling Skype and installing Teams, migrating makes more sense from a business perspective if you’re moving over multiple users and contacts. According to Sharegate, there are two methods to migrating to Teams.
This method introduces Skype users to Teams and during a transition period, they use both systems side-by-side. This allows users to become familiar with Teams’ functionality and makes it easier and smoother for them to adopt the platform. This coexistence mode is referred to as Islands mode. This mode can be used until the migration is complete and then users are moved over to ‘Teams only’ permanently.
This method is where the administrator personally manages the transition to Teams for the business and its Skype for Business users. Admins manage this transition by progressively migrating more and more users into Teams only mode. Rather than the platforms being used alongside each other like the previous method, more and more people are upgraded immediately to Teams by an administrator while other users stick to Skype until they’re moved across.
Microsoft 365 have a video series on their YouTube channel that walks you through how to move from Skype to Teams. The four videos outline how to: plan your upgrade, ready your end users, identify your upgrade approach and implement it. You and your organisation don’t have to migrate immediately as Skype is still available until 2021. However, it’s a good idea to get used to the Teams system sooner rather than later. If you have a large number of users, migration can take a while so it’s best to start the process with plenty of time before Skype for Business is retired.
As Teams has all the functionalities of Skype, it makes sense to transition to a messaging system that’s similar to the one you’ve already been using. Although Teams is more advanced, it has the same processes as Skype, in terms of chat, video, calls and meetings. User adoption for new platforms can be relatively low, so the similar interface of Microsoft Teams helps users become more comfortable with it and start using it quickly and effectively. In addition to this, Skype and Teams are both Microsoft products, meaning that you’ll get the same kind of support and knowledge when you move across.
With Microsoft’s overlapping capability method, you can use Skype and Teams alongside each other while you migrate which makes Teams easier to adopt. Rather than completely cancelling Skype and starting your communications all over again with a different system, upgrading to Teams is simpler and taken care of for you by Microsoft. Following this migration process, you can easily convert Teams into a business PBX system through Direct Routing which is set up for you by a third-party provider, like Gradwell.
Microsoft Teams was designed for small businesses, larger enterprises and individuals. Teams is extremely adaptable and can be tailored and customised to your business needs. It provides features like multi-user screen sharing, meeting recordings and conference planning that can be taken advantage of by both large and small companies. By converting Teams to a business PBX, it acts as an essential part of your business operations while also saving a significant amount of money and future proofing your business.
Teams facilitates a work environment between those working from home and the larger business as a whole. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and rise in remote working, Microsoft Teams has been heavily relied upon and become many organisations’ messaging and phone system during this time. This has just proved how well Microsoft Teams works for remote workers and digital offices, with its strong connection, high call quality and strong features.