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Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business – get to know Teams

Blog April 10, 2019
Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business
Dominic Kent

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Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business – get to know Teams

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business

The comparison of Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business is an inadequate one.

Both tools have changed the way we communicate. Both tools offer excellent user interfaces and a fantastic collaboration experience. However, they are incredibly different ways of working.

This post walks through key differences in technology, but also in processes and the way your business can work using these technologies.

Let’s jump right in.

Skype for Business end of life
Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business basics

1 – Persistent chat

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business both enable real-time chat. Dispersed teams had long required an alternative to the unproductive phone call experience. Whilst calls, audio or video, can be productive, interruptions due to lack of presence often disrupted deep work. Skype for Business, and its previous versions (Lync, Microsoft OCS) transformed the way businesses communicated.

However, in Skype for Business, once a chat was closed or the working day was over, the chat was lost. Chat logs were kept in Outlook or Exchange, but the conversation ended when the chat was deemed over or timed out.

Microsoft Teams introduces persistent chat.

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business
Microsoft Teams persistent chat

As you can see in the screenshot above, the chat history is presented in a familiar style to Skype for Business. However, unlike when you log into Skype for Business the morning, the chat will remain from the previous day, week or month.

For as long as you need to retain the information sent or received in a chat, you can keep it in your chat channel. This applies for both one to one messaging and team messaging. We’ll come onto team messaging in a second.

Images, files and links are all retained, on top of standard messages, emojis and GIFs. GIFs also appear in Microsoft Teams, making it easier to express yourself than in Skype for Business.

2 – Team messaging

Like persistent chat from one person to another, teams can be created to produce an ongoing stream of information for a set topic. Teams can be setup on a per department basis, per project, per customer or any basis desired.

Below is an example of multiple users chatting within a set team. You can see a “conversation” is occuring within the “General” group of the O365 Deployment “team”.

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business
Microsoft Teams team messaging

Users can share messages, files, emojis, GIFs and stickers with other members of the specified team. Within the team, users can also start a team meeting by hitting the Meet Now button.

When you hit Meet Now, the screen will launch a pre-meeting screen like the one below.

Microsoft Teams meeting
Microsoft Teams meeting

This transforms your team messaging interface into a full meeting experience. Included here is a wealth of Microsoft Teams meeting features. Some of these will be familiar from your Skype for Business experience.

3 – Meetings

Many meeting features will be similar to Skype for Business, making Teams adoption simple and intuitive. Common features like call recording, screen sharing and file uploads are all retained in Microsoft Teams.

The interface changes from blue to purple and a meeting is now hosted within the pane that contains all your team and one to one chats. Below is a quick video showing a real-time meeting, triggered from within a team.

New features to start utilizing include in Microsoft Teams include:

  • Background blur (now made available in Skype)
  • Customized backgrounds
  • Whiteboard masking – this means when someone is physically drawing on a whiteboard, their body won’t be in the way
  • Live captions
  • Live events with access available to users outside of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business advanced features

Whether you’re moving from Skype to Teams out of choice or due to a Skype for Business auto upgrade, you should be aware that Microsoft Teams opens the door to a raft of functionality you didn’t have before.

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business
Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams auto-upgrades kicked in early 2019

Meetings and messaging have always been part of Skype for Business. The features outlined next are elements you can introduce to your business to enhance productivity, reduce app switching and make teams more collaborative.

1 – Microsoft Teams integration

Skype for Business native integration was restricted to predominantly calling from telephony apps and systems. Third party apps like Zapier provided IFTTT functionality. Integration between other collaboration apps has been introduced but focus has shifted to Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft has even announced the end of life program for the integration of Skype for Business with third-party audio conferencing providers. The end of life program will conclude on April 1st, 2019.

When you migrate to Microsoft Teams, the Teams app store is full of your most used and most critical apps that can be added to your Microsoft Teams tenant as a “tab”.

Microsoft Teams integrations
Microsoft Teams integrations

The Teams app store features hundreds of apps that bring your favorite apps into Microsoft Teams. This reduces time spent switching between apps and tabs and frees up hours of productivity.

Below you can see the KanBo project management interface being used within a tab of Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams tabs
Microsoft Teams tabs

Installing and using apps in Microsoft Teams is simple. Here’s a great blog that walks through setting up apps like Asana, Salesforce and Mailchimp.

2 – Microsoft Teams guest access

If you used the federation capability in Skype for Business, you will already know the benefits of enabling a common chat app between external parties. For example, sales teams can communicate with their customers and partners if both parties have Skype for Business – and both turn on federation.

For any supplier/buyer relationship or external consultant environment, federation was a great way for external parties to remain connected without resorting to email or a phone call. Below, you can see the label that shows a users is connected via an external network (federation).

Skype for Business federation
Skype for Business federation

In Microsoft Teams, the experience differs due to the team collaboration environment. Federation does not currently exist natively for one to one messaging. Microsoft’s official stance on federation within Microsoft Teams is highlighted here:

“In order to currently federate within the Microsoft Teams client to an external user outside of your organization who’s not currently a Guest of your AAD/Tenant, you must be correctly setup for hybrid and moved to Skype for Business Online. As of 2/25/2019, Teams doesn’t yet support native federation without the user of the SIP profile being homed in Skype for Business Online.

Instead, Microsoft enables guest access so that external parties with Microsoft Teams accounts of their own can act as guests in your Microsoft Teams team.

Here, the user can access files, messages and meetings of the team they are invited to – even if they are part of another organization. Guest access doesn’t grant full access to the external party. Admins are able to prescribe what can and cannot be accessed by guests.

Guest access in Microsoft Teams gives access to an individual. Federation in Skype for Business gives access permission to an entire domain.

Adding a guest to a team is simple. Check out this GIF showing you how.

Guest access and federation differ when comparing Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business

3 – File storage

When you create a new team in Microsoft Teams, this also creates a new SharePoint site in your Microsoft back end. Because of this, each document or file that you upload to the team – either in the team messaging area or to the files tab – will be saved in SharePoint.

You will, of course, need the necessary licensing to achieve this. Microsoft Teams Free doesn’t include SharePoint access.

Restriction on usage also applies in the free version. The limit for file storage is set as 2GB per user in Microsoft Teams Free and 1TB per user in paid versions.

File storage is a new feature when comparing Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business
Microsoft Teams file storage

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business future

If you have decided to migrate now, or are planning to soon, you’ll want to know what’s coming for both apps.

1 – Skype for Business Online

Skype for Business Online is set to go end of life. Microsoft has not announced a date yet but they have confirmed it is happening.

Whilst Microsoft Teams is not a direct replacement for Skype for Business Online, it is where Microsoft is moving to – which means customers must too.

Skype for Business Online users will need to understand the differences between Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business sooner than others
Skype for Business Online

2 – Skype for Business Server

Microsoft has commitment to Skype for Business Server for years to come.

SFB server is the software that provides the infrastructure for enterprise messaging, presence, VoIP, ad hoc and structured conferences and PSTN connectivity.

Skype for Business Server 2019 continues to see enhancements on a regular basis. New features added in February include:

  • Cloud Voicemail
  • Call Data Connector
  • Side-by-side migration

However, the below features were announced end of life in Skype for Business Server in November

  • XMPP Gateways for Skype for Business Server
  • Persistent Chat for Skype for Business Server (functionality available in Teams)
  • SQL Mirroring for Skype for Business Server
  • In-place upgrades
  • Mobility Service (Mcx)

3 – Microsoft Teams roadmap

During Enterprise Connect, Microsoft announced some new features aimed to enhance productivity and tie up the meeting and collaboration experience.

  • Secure private channels
  • Information barriers
  • Calendar app
  • Live captions
  • Customized backgrounds
  • Content cameras and intelligent capture
  • Microsoft whiteboard
  • Enhancements to the Chrome browser meeting experience
  • Live events in Microsoft 365
  • Meetings first
  • New meeting devices
  • New supported handsets
Microsoft Teams custom background
Microsoft Teams custom background

The public Office 365 roadmap is available here. At the time of writing, there are 7 in-development items that Microsoft is working on bringing to Teams:

  1. Location based routing
  2. Calendar app to replace Meetings app
  3. Commercial cloud trial
  4. Org-wide team for 5,000 users
  5. Easily add new members to a team
  6. Broadcast meetings (Skype for Business feature)
  7. Outlook meeting schedule from other platforms (Skype for Business feature)

You can also view items that are currently being rolled out and that have been recently launched.

Microsoft Teams roadmap
Microsoft Teams roadmap

For an in-depth rundown of the best Microsoft Teams features you could be utilizing, we’ve also put together a Microsoft Teams feature guide.

Microsoft Teams vs anything else?

If you are using your Skype for Business upgrade to shop around or consolidate other messaging apps, you may not need to.

It is often thought that moving to one app means you have to move all users to this app. This is no longer the case.

If you use Skype for Business as your primary chat tool, and are moving to Microsoft Teams, you can keep your Slack or Cisco Webex Teams users too.

With Mio, you can achieve messaging interoperability so users on each platform are forever in sync. Teams users can stay in Teams. Slack users can stay in Slack.

See for yourself in this video.

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6 Comments
  1. […] For a full comparison of Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, you can check out this article. […]

  2. Avatar

    Doug Lee

    Direct Routing is great, but will Teams ever have enterprise voice resiliency that will allow voice calls to use analog lines when the WAN connection is down? S4B online can do this now with a SBC & CCE.

    • Dominic Kent

      Dominic Kent

      Hey Doug, echo your query. I intend to find out via Microsoft - speculation (and MS feature parity statement) suggests that we can expect most of the SFB Online features to filter through at some point.

  3. […] to simply text, messages aren’t limited to chat sessions between two people. The biggest difference between Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams is the introduction of persistent chat in the form of […]

  4. […] We’ve put together a guide to the core differences between the two platforms for new users and admins here. […]

  5. […] Some of the key differences between “legacy” chat apps and modern collaboration apps are outlined in this post comparing Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. […]