Microsoft Teams Replaces Skype for Business

By Jim Lundy

(Aragon Research) – At the Microsoft Ignite Conference this week in Orlando, Microsoft finally confirmed what had long been rumored: Microsoft Teams is replacing Skype for Business. It isn’t that the features of Skype are going away – they will be added to Teams over time – but the big problem that this solves is that it makes Teams the front and center contender to take on the challenge being presented by competitors such as Slack. This blog discusses the rise of Teams and how Microsoft is streamlining its overall collaboration story.

An exterior view of the unveiling of an original art installation created by renowned artist Tabor Robak for the Flagship Microsoft Store on Thursday, March 30, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Microsoft)

Teams as the Slack Killer

Microsoft made the announcement that Teams will replace Skype for Business during one of the keynotes at Ignite. Microsoft Teams is still a relatively new product, but in our tests even before it was generally available, it was solid and the desktop client never crashed. It also was fast and easy on a mobile device such as an Apple iPhone. Since Microsoft has all the features of Office 365 at its disposal, it is easy to share a document, collaborate on it, or even do a group video call. Functionality is not perfect but the service works well because it is using all the Skype for Business capabilities that are part of Office 365. Even in its current state, Teams is positioned very well against Slack.

Skype for Business and Office 2019

Microsoft did indicate that it will release at least one more on-premise release of Skype for Business. SfB is important on premise for certain types of businesses and these needs are not going to go away. We expect that Microsoft will have to do more than just one release, similar to what happened with SharePoint, where it now continues to enhance SharePoint On-Premise.

Office 2019 Servers for Skype for Business will be going into Beta in the first half of 2018 and will ship before the end of 2018. So this means that enterprises that have a huge investment in Skype (and who recently migrated from Lync) have a reprieve. That said, Microsoft will be making a huge push to go to Teams in the Cloud. More on this as the Office 2019 story evolves.

Teams and Office: Better Together

One of the benefits of having Microsoft Teams as part of the Office 365 Family is the availability of features. Microsoft demonstrated how to bring Pages and Files from SharePoint directly into Microsoft Teams. To us, for teams on the go who are working on a project, being able to easily collaborate on content is a big deal. The demo was smooth and it looked like anyone could make this work from a usability perspective.

Microsoft Office 365: Outlook, Teams, and Yammer

Microsoft showed a new way to look at Collaboration and how teams can interact using the three forms of Collaboration in Office: Outlook, Teams, and Yammer. To us, this means that Microsoft finally is putting together a cohesive Collaboration story, which it describes as Inner and Outer Rings. It is overdue, but it is never too late to harmonize the story. Which collaboration modality is the best? To us, it isn’t one form, it is using them all more seamlessly in different stages of the work process.

Microsoft positioning for Collaboration shows Inner and Outer Rings.

Bottom Line

While the end of Skype for Business was the headline, the real story of Microsoft Ignite is that Office 365 is becoming a full Digital Work Hub (see Aragon definition).  Teams is having an impact on Slack and Yammer is a full Office 365 citizen. The only thing we’d like to hear more about is Video. Microsoft Stream was not as front and center at MSIgnite 2017 as we would have liked. Given the rise of Workplace by Facebook and its focus on video, the next war that is coming to the enterprise will not be about messaging, it will be about video. Developing…