Microsoft Shares Skype-to-Teams Transition Plans

Microsoft this week outlined its roadmap for bringing Skype for Business capabilities into Microsoft Teams, a decision it first announced at its Ignite event last month.

Despite Teams being a relatively new collaboration service for Office 365 users -- it became generally available just this past March -- Microsoft announced at Ignite that the Teams client will eventually replace the Skype for Business client. Microsoft is still planning to offer its Skype for Business Online service, however, as well as its Skype for Business Server product. The new server product is expected to arrive in the second half of 2018.

Microsoft also had promised that organizations would have a smooth transition to Teams. For instance, it's possible to run Teams and Skype for Business concurrently.

An overview of those transition plans for this year and into 2018 can be found in this Microsoft Tech Community post from Tuesday. A specific breakdown of the coming messaging, meeting and calling capabilities can be found in this "Capabilities Roadmap" document (PDF), which provides a more nuanced list.

In general, Microsoft has been marketing the switch as a move toward so-called "intelligent communications" with Teams. For instance, users will get things like searchable transcriptions of meetings, a feature that is expected to arrive at the end of Q2 2018, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Messaging, Meetings and Call Improvements
On the messaging side, Microsoft is planning to add end user features such as screen sharing during chat sessions to Teams, as well as "federation between companies," by the end of Q2 2018. IT pros will get some messaging control capabilities as well. At the end of 1Q 2018, IT pros will see "messaging policies," "message retention policies" and "messaging interop IT policies," per Microsoft's "Capabilities Roadmap" document.

In terms of meetings, Teams will be getting Skype Room Systems support and video interoperability via third-party room devices by the end of Q2 2018. Likely more in that regard will be discussed in a series of upcoming half-day events hosted by Logitech, Pexip and Microsoft, as described in this Microsoft Tech Community announcement. IT pros will be getting the ability to "enable call quality analytics" for messaging, which will be arriving at the end of this year. IT pros also will have the ability to set "user-level meeting policy," plus they'll get e-discovery improvements, which are capabilities expected to arrive at the end of Q2 2018.

On the calling side, Microsoft plans to bring voicemail to Teams "later this quarter." By the end of Q2 2018, Microsoft expects to activate calling services for existing phone connections. IT pros also will be getting calling perks. At the end of this year, they'll see Skype for Business-Teams interop policies, as well as a "call quality diagnostic portal." By the end of Q2 2018, IT pros will get e-discovery improvements for calling.

Microsoft seems to never miss an opportunity to rename its products and features, and the Skype for Business transition seems to be no exception. Some Skype for Business terms have changed. The PSTN Calling feature is now "Calling Plan." PSTN Conferencing is "Audio Conferencing." Cloud PBX is named "Phone System."

Organizations with questions about the switch to Teams can participate in a Teams "Ask Microsoft Anything" session. The session will start at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Oct. 25. There's also a Teams on Air broadcast happening at the same hour on Oct. 27.

Microsoft wants organizations to plan a transition to Teams, and has set up this portal page with documentation and guidance. A useful summary of those resources can be found in this TechNet announcement by Matt Soseman, a Microsoft 365 architect.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.