Skype for Business is here, sort of…

Microsoft’s “Release” of Skype for Business

On April 14th Microsoft released the Skype for Business client for Office 365 users.  The new user interface is a great improvement over Lync 2013 and it adds many great features to improve ease of use. Here is a video explaining all the changes.
Skype for Business is complete re-branding of Lync but also an update meant to merge Lync and Skype so that enterprise users can easily communicate with those outside their organization who just have the consumer version of Skype.  The update itself is great, but the way Microsoft has chosen to roll it out is leaving users and IT admins confused and frustrated.
To start Microsoft writes this blog announcing Skype for Business is here. There needs to be a huge asterisk next to this. If you are on Office 365 yes you can the Skype for Business client, which is great, but this is only for Windows desktops. Also, you only get the full update if your Office 365 admin enables it. By default the setting is not enabled and now end users are experiencing a confusing partial re-branding. When the update installs all the Lync logos are removed from the software and the name is changed, but you are still using Lync 2013 UI.   Also, initially after the update applies the user gets to see the new Skype for Business UI but then gets a pop up saying your admin has disabled it that it needs to restart which then reverts it back to Lync 2013 UI. This half update where the branding changes to Skype, but it still looks like Lync is confusing and makes little to no sense. Especially if a user chooses not to restart they can be using the new inference for days as long as the app stays open, but upon restart it reverts back to Lync.  What Microsoft should have done is given administrators the option to either enable or disable the update on an organizational level.  Either users update to Skype for Business completely or not.
What makes the update more confusing is that it only applies to Windows PC’s. The mobile apps, mac app, and Lync phone edition have no current dates for when they will be updated, and the Mac app is not even scheduled for this year. With Microsoft giving no dates for when any other device will update for the foreseeable future organizations will be using Skype for Business on their desktop with all new look and logos, and Lync on every other device. This does not affect functionality in anyway but it’s just confusing for users to have Skype for Business on their desktop and Lync on everything else.
Its understandable to not be able to remove the Lync branding from all devices on one specific date, but to have no release dates available to the public for the mobile apps, Mac app, or phone edition firmware is frustrating for IT administrators who want to make the transition as smooth as possible.  Microsoft has using Yammer and Reddit to host question and answer sessions with the Skype for Business team to disseminate information which is great, but when the answers to every important question is: “not at this time, coming soon” it leaves the community very frustrated.
Office 365 and  Lync/ Skype for Business is the best UC platform on the market, but Microsoft needs to improve upon their update process and move this re-branding along much faster in order to avoid great confusion for current users and companies looking to become adopters.
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