Skype for Business Preview Review

Skype for Business Preview is Here and We Love it.

Microsoft released a preview version of Office 2016 and Skype for Business today. We have been messing with it all morning and are very impressed with the changes. With it being a Preview version and the Skype for Business server edition not being released, we don’t get to see all the improvements, but what we have seen thus far from the preview should eliminate most of the pain points with Lync 2013’s interface.

Difficulties with Lync

The biggest problem with Lync 2013’s UI was that most of the important actions were hidden and could only be opened by hovering your mouse over different icons. Although I love Lync to death, many functions took too many mouse moves and clicks to complete. Skype for Business’ new UI does away with the hovering menus and simplifies many basic actions.
In Lync 2013 all call options: mute, hold, transfer, switch device, and the dial pad were all in one call menu. With Skype for Business mute becomes its own button, and all call controls are in a simpler one click menu:

More Improvements With Skype for Business

Another great improvement with the call controls is that when receiving a call or dialing someone not using Lync or Skype for Business (PSTN call), these controls are always open and available. With an outside number you don’t have the option to share screens, IM, or video chat, so only the options that pertain to the call are front and center. Notice with Lync 2013 I still have all the menu options for IM, Video Call, and Screen Share when I can’t use any of these functions for calling outside number. Also, in order to access the functions I do need, all the call controls, I have to hover over the telephone icon.
Now look how clean Skype for Business looks. All functions I can’t use are gone, and the call controls are front and center and not hidden in a menu.
In terms of the general UI of the client, not much has changed. There are new icons, the settings icon is much larger and noticeable, but for the most part its just a new look for Lync 2013. Then again not much needed to be improved in this area and there is no learning curve at all in upgrading. Everything is right where it was before.
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