If you are a user of Microsoft’s Skype for Business, chances are you have been hearing the buzz about Microsoft Teams.  After all, Microsoft is set to sunset Skype for Business in favor of the Microsoft Teams product.  While many of us are hesitant when it comes to changing the platforms we use every day for productivity, let’s take a closer look at Microsoft Teams features and functionality, and what you may need to consider to begin to take advantage of the Microsoft Teams platform.

All About Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the collaboration portion of Office 365, and seeks to be be the platform of choice for all organizations.  Some of the hallmark features of Microsoft Teams are:

  • Chat, both one on one and group
  • “Teams” for collaboration, which allow groups of people to communicate via Channels
  • Meetings, with with voice, video, and desktop sharing capabilities
  • Calls, with voice and video capabilities
  • Files, which include integration to OneDrive and the files posted in the Team channels

Like Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams offers a web interface, a thick client, and a mobile app.  Since its official release about two years ago, Teams has come a long way in stability and usability, and it is easy to see why.  Collaboration is one of the hottest spaces right now, with competitors like Slack leading the way.  Microsoft is seeking to get the edge by bundling Microsoft Teams into their Office 365 portfolio to enable rapid access for organizations.

Migrating to Microsoft Teams from Skype For Business

Anyone who has ever done a rollout of an end users communication system can tell you that it must be carefully planned and executed.  Luckily, Microsoft is on top of this, and provides a number of resources and guidelines to help organizations with their journey.

The complexity of your Skype for Business to Microsoft teams upgrade will heavily depend on how you are currently using Skype for Business.  Microsoft breaks this into two different categories:

Upgrade Basic for smaller organizations using fewer features.

Upgrade Pro for larger organizations and fully featured deployments.

The big difference between Microsoft Teams Upgrade Basic and Microsoft Teams Upgrade Pro is that Upgrade Basic takes a big bang approach while Upgrade Pro is more of a phased approach to gradually bring users onto the Teams platform.

For example, if my users are just using Skype for Business for chat, the Upgrade Basic approach works great.  On the other hand, if my users are using many Skype for Business features like chat, meetings, and calls, a phased approach may work better for their experience.

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Interoperability

If your organization is large, or using many Skype for Business features, you may have a period where you are using both Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business to make life for your users easier.  Microsoft has clearly put a lot of thought into to this, and is continuously enhancing interoperability for the transition.

Right now the main option is something called Island Mode during the transition.  This means Skype for Business an Teams operate as individual islands, so users can start using teams, and gradually move off Skype for Business.  The main caveat is that Microsoft Teams users will only be able to communicate with individuals who are also using Microsoft Teams.  Both clients can co-exist for users, so users may have to switch back and forth throughout the transition.

In the future, Microsoft is planning to enhance interoperability to make the transition easier on users in two ways:

  1. Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration, which adds the “Teams” collaboration to Skype for Business
  2. Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration and Meetings, which adds Microsoft Teams meeting functionality in addition to Teams collaboration.

These two upcoming interoperability modes will help organizations made the transition even smoother for their users.  Be sure to check out the full interoperability guide here.

If the Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams upgrade is in your future, be sure to check out Microsoft’s official FAQ which is full of great information to aid your transformation.