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Microsoft Promises Skype Phones Will Work After Teams Transition

Organizations worried about how the planned transition from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams will affect their communications received reassurances from Microsoft this week.

Phones certified to work with the Skype for Business Online service will continue to work when capabilities get switched over to Teams, according to a Microsoft announcement. In addition, Skype for Business Server users also can use their certified phones with the Teams service.

There's also some good news for IT pros regarding these devices; Microsoft explained that "no tenant-admin or users action or configuration is required when users are switched to Microsoft Teams."

Launched just this past March, Teams is a fairly new Office 365 collaboration service, but it will eventually consolidate Skype for Business capabilities over time. Microsoft this week published its latest roadmap plans, projecting which capabilities will be moving over to Teams both this year and the next.

Certified Phones Support
Organizations using voice-over-IP phones that were certified to work with Skype for Business Online (namely, "3PIP" phones) can use them on the Teams service, but Microsoft is setting a date for when such support will begin, namely "second quarter 2018," the announcement indicated.

Lync Phone Edition devices also will be supported using Teams. However they will face truncated product lifecycle support. So-called "mainstream support" for Lync Phone Edition devices will end in April 2018. They'll have just five years of "extended support" available after that time.

While these certified phones will work with the Teams service, the exact features supported will be somewhat nuanced. It seems that premium Skype for Business Online features will work, but support for some advanced features will depend on Microsoft's collaboration work with hardware partners. Here's how the announcement described it:

All Phone System / PBX premium features in Skype for Business Online today (such as Call Queues and Auto Attendant) will continue to work on 3PIP IP Phones after switching to Microsoft Teams. We will be working with our phone partners to deliver a new phone experience for advanced Phone System / PBX features on our future roadmap for Microsoft Teams.

The end user experience on these devices mostly won't change with the transition to Teams, at least for some functions. The user experience for authentication, presence, calling, directory access and joining Skype for Business meetings won't change.

Teams-Scheduled Meetings
On the other hand, the end user experience when joining Teams-scheduled meetings using these devices could be a somewhat bumpy ride. The announcement listed 11 Teams-joining characteristics that are still "to be determined" in terms of support. The iffy items included "end meeting," "promote to presenter" and "admit a participant from lobby," among others.

Skype for Business Server users also will face the same potential user experience limitations on devices as Skype for Business Online users when joining Teams meetings.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.