The Skype for Business client will be publicly rolled out on April 14th, as part of the monthly Office updates. If you are using Lync Online with Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Business Premium or Office 2013, the updated Skype for Business client will be the default user experience. If you are using Lync Server, the Lync UI will be the default user experience.
This announcement concludes a very announcement-rich period for both the Lync and Skype communities. It all started with the Skype for Business announcement and the client release under technical preview terms. Few days back we got another announcement regarding enterprise voice capabilities that will be piloted with the new Skype for Business engine in the US this summer and now we will all get the Skype for Business client as an Office update.
In case you as an IT admin or CIO wouldn’t like your users to have the Skype for Business UI started April 14th you would also be able to enforce this in Office 365. This could be particularly useful if you want to test the new UI by yourself first or if you need some more time to communicate this change properly to your end users.
What you would have to do is to import your Lync Online PowerShell Module into a PowerShell session, to connect to the Office 365 services as an admin and then use the following cmdlets:
Disable Skype user interface (UI) for all users:
Grant-CsClientPolicy -PolicyName ClientPolicyDisableSkypeU
Enable Skype UI for all users:
Grant-CsClientPolicy -PolicyName ClientPolicyEnableSkypeUI
If you run an on premise infrastructure, you have plenty of other options to restrict the use of this new Skype for Business UI or to not run this update on all corporate machines.
Some basic features of the new UI
The new UI combines both Skype and Lync features and capabilities. There will be a Skype look and feel, but all Lync capabilities will also be there, like screen sharing, file upload and so on.
In Skype for Business you will also notice that it is much easier to bring up the dial pad when you are in a meeting, to transfer a call or to put it on hold.
On the other hand the new Skype for Business client comes with enhanced search capabilities. So you will be able to search both your corporate network or the entire Skype network for contacts. For the latter you can use also city names, districts, occupations and so on to narrow down your search result, since a normal search after first name and last name will probably bring up more than one result.
Skype for Business release timelin
April 14th – roll out of the Skype for Business Client as an Office update.
May 2015 – Skype for Business Server will be released and you would be able to download it from the Microsoft Download center.
Summer 2015 – enterprise voice capabilities for Skype for Business Online will be piloted in the US.
Till the end of 2015 – enterprise voice capabilities will be publicly rolled out for Skype for Business Online in the US.
So, a lot of good news. Have fun discovering all the new Skype for Business client features 🙂