This week at Enterprise Connect, Microsoft made available the Skype for Business Client Preview marking the first step in the re-branding of Lync Server.
The new Skype for Business Client makes good on Microsoft’s commitment of Universal Communications which promises to enable people to do more by using rich communications for all their relationships by offering more of a consistent experience across work and life.
The new client looks and feels more like the consumer version of Skype while being familiar enough to navigate for traditional Lync users. Microsoft will be allowing administrators to control the User Interface via a client policy on the server allowing for flexibility in upgrades and rollout schedules.
Figure 2SfB in call window
Figure 3S4B Call Monitor
I especially like the addition of the signature feature from the consumer version of the Skype Call Monitor which is automatically instantiated when you click on other windows making it easier to collaborate by focusing on working content when in a call. Mid-Call controls are also more easily accessible and redesigned to include the PSTN dialing Pad by default now (hooray!)
Another important addition is “Call via Work” feature which will allow interoperability to existing PBX phones. While this requires a Direct SIP integration between Skype for Business Server and the PBX it will allow SfB users to establish a call between their PBX Deskphone and the called PSTN user. This also has the important benefit of updating users’ presence status, which is something lacking in the Lync Direct SIP interoperability scenario. There are also basic mid-call control capabilities which are preserved on the PBX phone.
Another welcome enhancements made to connecting with the existing consumer Skype community. True Skype Directory Integration will now be available where a S4B users can simple search for a Skype user. The previously required getting the Skype user to associate their Skype ID with a Microsoft ID. This was not a popular requirement in the community so will be a very welcomed feature. Other welcome features will be the high quality audio and video over the internet using the SILK and H.264 SVC codecs.
A new addition to the Call Detail Record keeping is the ability for users to rate a call. Configurable via a user policy users are prompted to rate their call after it has been completed and also provide comments that will be stored in the SQL backend.
Stay tuned for more exciting info. In the meantime check out http://blogs.office.com/2015/03/16/get-ready-for-skype-for-business/ to learn more.