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Skype for Business End of Life – What Happens Next?

Blog July 30, 2019
Skype for Business 2019 will remain supported when Skype for Business Online goes end of life
Dominic Kent

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Skype for Business End of Life – What Happens Next?

Skype for Business end of life

Microsoft today confirmed the Skype for Business Online end of life date as July 31, 2021.

In this post, we shed some light on the steps Microsoft is taking and have sourced some helpful links to help plan your migration.

Common FAQs include:

Is Skype for Business end of life?

Microsoft has communicated the end of life date for Skype for Business Online as July 31st 2021.

Is Skype being discontinued?

Skype is not being discontinued but Skype for Business Online will be discontinued on July 31st 2021.

Is Skype for Business being phased out?

Microsoft has announced that Microsoft Teams has achieved feature parity with Skype for Business. Furthermore, Skype for Business Online has an end of life date of July 31st 2021. There is no formal communication from Microsoft regarding the end of life date for on-premises versions of Skype for Business.

What is replacing Skype for Business?

Microsoft’s answer is Microsoft Teams. However, there are numerous other options for business to explore.

Our recently published Workplace Messaging Report should also help your journey from Skype to Teams.

Skype for Business end of life auto-upgrades

We’ve recently covered the Skype to Teams auto-upgrade topic. Some small businesses have been upgraded.

Mostly, businesses with Skype for Business Online but no usage tend to have been upgraded. A safe move for Microsoft to test whether their auto-upgrade facility works. IT admins should look out for an email from “Plan For Change” as this appears to be the only notice given.

Upgrade Skype to Microsoft Teams
Upgrade Skype to Microsoft Teams

The Microsoft Teams FAQ pages cover why Skype to Teams is happening but doesn’t commit to the when.

Skype for Business end of life
Skype for Business end of life details

For larger organizations, Microsoft hasn’t released any details surrounding auto-upgrades but has provided some guidance on how to manually upgrade Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams.

‘To assist in your planning and execution, you can choose from two core upgrade paths, Upgrade Basic and Upgrade Pro.’

Teams isn’t a straight replacement for Skype

Kevin Kieller, Co-Founder of enable UC, articulated in a No Jitter post that Microsoft Teams isn’t a straight replacement for Skype for Business.

“Think of Microsoft Teams as two distinct tools rolled into one, and then you’ll know how to approach it vis-à-vis Skype for Business.”

Jonas Lindstrom, a new contributor to the Microsoft community, pointed out some key areas that he cannot use in Microsoft Teams yet.

Teams is not the same as Skype...yet
Teams is not the same as Skype…yet

If there are certain features that you depend on, you should check the Office 365 roadmap publicly available here. Once you click the link, use the filters to expand the Office 365 box then select Microsoft Teams.

Why move to Microsoft Teams?

This questions made it to the top 10 Microsoft Teams questions raised during the Microsoft Ignite tour.

Aya Tange, Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft, published the top 10 on the Microsoft blog. Her commentary read:

“We see the opportunity to more seamlessly integrate our communication capabilities into Teams so users can have a single place for their conversations, contacts, and content. With Teams, we can also leverage the modern cloud infrastructure, and create new experiences for meetings and calling.”

Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams transition
Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams transition

Microsoft also publish a dedicated Microsoft Teams overview page where you can get to know Teams more intimately.

What to do if you have Slack and Skype for Business?

The resources above should help if your migration from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams is straight forward.

If you only use Skype now, there are plenty of tools and information to support you.

The likelihood of only using Skype for chat and messaging is slim.

Even if unsanctioned, there is likely a small group – or a huge group – of Slack users collaborating in your business.

We commonly refer to this extension of shadow IT as shadow messaging.

Shadow messaging apps should be reviewed at Skype for Business end of life
Shadow messaging is an extension of Shadow IT

When instances of Slack exist, the upgrade from Skype to Teams is the perfect opportunity to review how your teams collaborate.

Frequent users of Slack will be used to the team-based chat platforms more so than your Skype only users.

This doesn’t instantly mean they will want to adopt Microsoft Teams, however.

Slack is famed for its favorable UI and it’s likely users will petition the need for Teams when Slack is already in use.

There are a few options on how to deal with this conundrum:

Option 1 – block Slack

Block Slack and force all users to use Microsoft Teams. Use the guidance provided by Microsoft – or the auto-upgrade facility when your time comes.

Option 2: work in silos

  1. Survey users to see who already use Slack
  2. Cross-reference those users against the number of Skype for Business licenses
  3. Sanction Slack within your business to those users that already have it or want it
  4. Roll out Microsoft Teams to each user that doesn’t have Slack as the ready-made replacement to Skype for Business
  5. Allow your teams to choose their platform of choice and work disparately, resorting to emailing when you need to chat across platform

Option 3 – messaging interoperability

  1. Survey users to see who already uses Slack
  2. Cross-reference those users against the number of Skype for Business licenses
  3. Sanction Slack within your business to those users that already have it or want it
  4. Roll out Microsoft Teams to each user that doesn’t have Slack as the ready-made replacement to Skype for Business
  5. Connect Microsoft Teams and Slack with an interoperability tool that lets you message, file share, thread, edit and delete messages across platform

What about Cisco endpoints when Skype for Business is end of life?

Take a look around your desks, meeting rooms and flexible working areas.

If you have Cisco endpoints like VoIP handsets, conference phones or a Cisco Webex Teams board, you may also have instances of Cisco Webex Teams in your business.

Naturally, when deploying these devices, you’d look for the best-integrated collaboration apps to get the most out of your investment.

So, similar to the Slack scenario where users may be resistant to moving to Microsoft Teams, you may find yourself with a group of Webex Teams fans.

Deploying Microsoft Teams but also have Cisco Webex Teams users
Deploying Microsoft Teams but also have Cisco Webex Teams users

There are a number of ways to integrate parts of Cisco Webex Teams into your new Microsoft Teams app.

You can definitely do more than you could with Skype for Business.

However, for total interoperability between the two platforms, there is only one solution.

To find out more about the Mio interoperability tool, check out this video of Cisco Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams in action.

If you must keep Cisco Webex Teams to get the most out of your Cisco endpoints, it doesn’t mean you have to scrap your Skype to Microsoft Teams upgrade.

Recap of useful Skype for Business end of life links

Mio Workplace Messaging Report for 2019

Microsoft community forum discussion on Skype for Business end of life

Skype for Business auto-upgrades and how to spot them

Skype to Teams FAQs

Teams isn’t the next version of Skype for Business

Office 365 roadmap

Enterprise Connect awards

What to do about shadow messaging

How to block Slack

Interoperabililty between Slack and Microsoft Teams

Interoperability between Cisco Webex Teams and Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams overview

Get started with Mio
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9 Comments
  1. […] 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. […]

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  4. […] Tom Arbuthnot, Modality Systems, ran a seminar on what Microsoft Teams is like in the real world. Stripping back the marketing jargon, Tom presented an overview of what Microsoft Teams provides, as well as the options available for Skype for Business customers who are considering migrating from Skype to Teams. […]

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