Microsoft recently launched “Skype for Business” as a replacement for Lync, and key new features and improvements in the new product version are enumerated below:

This spring, Microsoft launched Skype for Business, replacing its unified communications platforms Microsoft Lync 2013 and Lync Online. Integrated with its Office 365 service, the new product added a new client experience, new server release, and online service updates. The concept was to provide businesses the ability to connect with more Skype users outside their enterprise networks while maintaining enterprise security and reliability.

The new business platform is based on Skype, which more than 300 million people currently use to communicate. It allows customers to search for, and connect with, anyone on the Skype network, whether they’re inside or outside their organization. Most hardware and software solutions that are compatible with Office 2013 can also handle Skype for Business. Skype for business is built into Office, so features like IM, voice and video calls, presence, and online meetings are all now integrated Office components. The new platform offers the features formerly available on Lync and delivers enterprise-grade security, compliance, and control to IT.

Microsoft Skype for Business – Eight improvements over Lync

1. Easy User Experience – Skype for Business provides a similar look and feel as Skype for Desktop and offers a more simplified user interface compared to the Lync client. Icons, presence indicators, contact lists, buttons, and several quick-action tasks, such as adding another contact during a conversation, will feel similar to users familiar with the older clients

2. Desk Phone Integration – Skype for Business can seamlessly integrate with existing private branch exchange (PBX) systems deployed in organizations. With this integration, employees can contact their co-workers using Skype for Business to place calls, while at the backend, audio call flow is routed through existing desk phones.

3. Skype Directory – Lync users were once allowed to connect with other users via Active Directory integration or organizational federations. The new Skype for Business allows users to connect with all Skype users across the world directly, just by using their corporate IDs.

4. The Mobile Experience – Skype for Business has made improvements in providing seamless support for a variety of devices, including mobile phones and tablets, and offers advantages including an enhanced meeting experience, single sign-on support for Office tools, and access to conversation history

5. No New Hardware – Organizations already using Lync Server with Software Assurance will get the benefit of deploying Skype for Business with a new, already-in-place upgrade feature. This feature utilizes existing Lync Server 2013 hardware and server investments, reducing the deployment costs of Skype for Business Server.

6. Call Quality Data – Similar to Skype for Desktop, Skype for Business provides a feature to rate the user calling experience once you are done with the conversation. This allows administrators to analyze audio and video call quality, tracking performance so they can troubleshoot problems and plan for further enhancements

7. Quick Access To Call Controls – Skype for Business provides users with a quick access bar to control call functions. While participating in a call that engages a public switched telephone network (PSTN), a dial pad is visible on the screen. Even if the calls are non-PSTN, all call controls and the dial pad can be accessed with just one click

8. Call Monitoring – Skype for Business offers a Call Monitoring feature that provides users with a compact call monitoring window on their screen that makes the active call visible even if the user is simultaneously working on another task. The window provides its own quick-access bar to mute the call and end the active conversation. The feature is available for both audio and video calls.