First look at Skype for Business

    Atlanta – It was way back in 2011 that Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion. It was just last November that we learned Microsoft planned to replace its office collaboration software Lync with Skype for Business. It was on Monday that Microsoft unveiled Skype for Business and announced it would be widely available for download in April.

    Skype for Business will look familiar to anyone that’s used the consumer client. But this version is blended with features that were previously found in Lync. There’s a contact list information about who’s online or offline. You can add all your colleagues, plus anyone else that uses Skype.

    Since it’s integrated into Office, you can launch a Skype chat right out of an email or your calendar. Content cards display any details you have stored about your contacts. You can collaborate with your colleagues by sending them files, sharing your notes, or sharing your live desktop.

    You’ll notice there’s a nice big preview window displayed before you start a video call. That gives you a chance to make sure you and your workspace are presentable for that professional meeting.

    You can have one-on-one conversations, or add in multiple participants to a conversation. You could even use this to host a webinar, or company-wide address. Skype for Business will create a URL you can share with your audience so they can connect to watch your broadcast from any browser.

    You can either download and install the Skype for Business client to your computer, or subscribe to it in the cloud as part of Office 365. For now, the cloud version won’t support making telephone calls, but that’s in the works.

    Years after Microsoft acquired Skype, it finally looks like not only will you be talking to your family members over the application, but with your boss as well.