Formerly known as Microsoft Lync, Skype for Business is a communication platform. It supports remote communications by using a variety of channels and mediums. These mediums include video calls, audio chat, or text messaging. Its primary key features include:
- HD Video Conferencing
- Instant Messaging
- Voice Calls
- Online Meeting Broadcast
- Whiteboard Collaborations
Skype is free to use and can only accommodate up to 20 people. It also offers services like phone calls to landline and mobile but requires paid plans.
Skype for Business is meant for groups and businesses that contain up to 250 participants. It also offers security options, account management, and Office 365 integrations for applications like Outlook, SharePoint, and PowerPoint.
Microsoft Teams lets users host conferences—audio, video, and web—for teams of 10 to 10,000. It is currently replacing Skype for Business on some platforms, such as the new Office 365. It also lets Skype participate in one-on-one calls to users on Microsoft Teams.
How to Use Skype for Business
First off, there are two versions of Skype for Business:
- Skype for Business Online - A cloud-based application. This can be easily accessed by users from anywhere at any time. It requires no additional hardware nor maintenance requirements.
- Skype for Business Server - An on-site application. It used primarily by large, highly-regulated organizations. It also needs special hardware, as well as consistent IT support and maintenance.
How to Use Skype for Business: Getting Started
1. Set a status - Making your presence known by setting an availability status can make it easier for team members, clients, and meeting attendees to communicate better. After signing into your account, click on the drop-down arrow located in the menu underneath your name. Here are the available status options:
- Available: Online/Active
-Busy: Do Not Disturb
-Away: Logged on, but away from the computer. Keyboard and mouse inactivity after five minutes automatically changes your status to “Inactive.
-Click on the icon “Add a contact” to pull contact details from a variety of options such as your email contact list, or phone numbers.
-Click on “Create New Group” to organize specific contacts into different groups.
Tip: You can use the “Reset Status” to have Skype for Business automatically set your status based on your activity on the app. For Mac users, click on the “Automatic” option instead.
How To Use Skype for Business to Call Customers, Bosses, Co-Workers, and Employees
Physical business meetings may not always be a possibility, but their face-to-face aspect can be retained through Skype for Business’ video conferencing features. This is ideal for those working remotely but still want to keep in touch with their clients, or need their team to put their heads together.
Users can not only stream a live video feed during a call, but also share their screens with other attendees, conduct a slideshow, or perform a webinar. Here are the steps for setting up a video conference on Skype for Business:
- Launch the Skype for Business app on your desktop, and make sure your presence is set to “Available.’
- Click the tab labeled “Meetings” and click the “Meet Now” button.
- A meeting screen will pop up in your window. You can then send participants a meeting invite by clicking on the “Invite” button located at the top right corner of your screen.
How to Use Skype for Business to Schedule a Meeting
Because Skype for Business works in tandem with Microsoft Outlook, scheduling a meeting is easy as pie. Here are the steps.
- Open Microsoft Outlook.
- Click the “Appointments” tab.
- Click the “Skype Meeting Button.” This will add the meeting information to the invite.
- Fill in other meeting details, then click “Send.” This sends Outlook Calendar reminders to meeting participants and enables a “Join Meeting” pop-up prior to the start of the conference call.
How to Use Skype for Business to make Audio and Video Calls
Skype made its name as one of the most beloved online audio and video call platforms, and the features that endeared it to many exists still in Skype for Business today. Here is how to make audio and video calls on Skype for Business:
- Search for the person you wish to call from your contact list, then click either the “Audio” or “Video” icon.
- Upon receiving a call, a pop-up window appears with a variety of call settings that lets you know if your microphone is on or muted if your camera is on or off, and additional options that let you respond using audio or instant messaging only.
Tip: Don’t want to be disturbed? Set your status to “Do Not Disturb.” This automatically rejects any incoming calls.
How to Share Your Screen on Skype for Business
This feature is handy for when you’re giving a presentation, or want to show meeting participants a detailed task from your point of view. Here’s how to do it.
- During the call, look for the “Present” icon in the meeting window. It should look like a monitor icon.
- A pop-up will appear, letting you choose between sharing options: “Present Desktop” lets you share your whole screen, while “Present Programs” lets you share an open Excel or Word file.
- Upon sharing your screen, you will see a “Now Presenting” tab on your window. This will also set your online status to “Presentation,” thereby restricting alerts from other users. Meeting participants will also receive requests to your shared screen.
- Want to transfer the demonstration? Click “Give Control” to let another attendee share their screen. Click “Take back control” when you want to return to share your own screen.
- When the presentation is over, simply click “Stop Presenting.” This stops the screen sharing.
How To Use Instant Messaging On Skype For Business
Instant Messaging (IM) is among the fastest ways to communicate with your contacts remotely. Here’s how to use IM on Skype for Business.
- Search for the contact you wish to send an IM to and click the “Message” icon. A conversation window will then appear, letting you both begin a real-time conversation.
- When someone wants to start an IM conversation, a pop-up appears on your screen. Click their photo to engage, or click “Ignore” to reject it.
- Add more people into the chat by dragging and dropping their individual contact photos into the conversation window. To invite users en masse, click on the “Invite More People” icon at the top of the window.
- Send an IM to group contacts by right-clicking on the group name in your contact list, then selecting “Send an Instant Message.”
How To Integrate Skype For Business With Office
Skype for Business integration to Office 365 will give users access to several unique features:
- Launch a video call through a PowerPoint presentation
- More IM (instant messaging) features such as being able to text back and forth while viewing or editing a Word document.
- The ability to see which Microsoft Outlook users are online, in a meeting, or unavailable.
So, how is Skype for Business integrated into Office 365? Follow these steps:
- Open the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, then select the “Teams & Skype” button.
- To enable Skype for Business, go to “Org-Wide Settings,” then “Teams Upgrade.”
- You will be able to pick between “Skype for Business Only Mode” or “Islands Mode,” which will let users access Microsoft Teams (features will not flow between Teams and Skype users).
- If you just need to change some users to use Skype for Business, head to “Users” then pick the user. To update, click “Edit” then “Teams Upgrade.”
Can You Use Skype For Business With A Mobile Device?
Yes! Skype for Business can be used on your mobile phone. It makes for a convenient online meeting experience for many users, as mobile phones are among the most used devices today. Here’s how to install the app on both iOS and Android devices.
- Go to the App Store.
- Look up “Skype for Business.”
- Click on “Get,” then install the app.
- Go to the Google Play Store
- Search for “Skype for Business.”
- Tap “Install.”
How Much Does Skype For Business Cost?
The first pricing option for Skype for Business—bundled with an Office 365 account—is called Office 365 Essentials and starts at $5.00 per user every month. Next is Office 365 Business Premium, which clocks in at $12.50 per user every month, and the Office 365 Enterprise E5, which is $35.00 per user per month.
As communication technologies become more and more sophisticated, remote work is now a common sight. Having a virtual team is now more a norm than it is an outlier, so it only makes sense to adapt and keep up by learning more about them!