Microsoft Announces Retirement of Skype for Business Online

Service Shuts Down on July 31, 2021

Skype for Business Online to Teams

A process started in September 2017 with the announcement at the Ignite conference that Teams would replace Skype for Business Online will conclude on July 31, 2021 when Microsoft retires Skype for Business Online. Existing tenants using Skype for Business Online can continue using it until they can transition to Teams.

New customers won’t get a choice as Microsoft will only configure new Office 365 tenants with Teams from September 1, 2019. New tenants with fewer than 500 seats have been unable to choose Skype for Business Online since last year.

To be fair to Microsoft, they have made huge progress in developing Teams to be able to take over from Skype for Business Online since the 2017 announcement. All the data indicates that Teams is obviously successful with customers, with over 19 million monthly active users in over 500,000 organizations. Now that a firm retirement date is set for Skype for Business Online, we can expect to see that number grow fast.

Feature List in Teams Expands All the Time

The list of new features delivered in Teams since 2017 is staggering and Microsoft is lining up to add the last remaining set of features needed to enable customers to make the move, including dynamic 911, shorter retention periods (down to one day) for compliance records, and better interoperability between Teams and Skype consumer (due in the first quarter of 2020). That last point mightn’t seem important, but it’s critical for many companies who want to connect with partners and customers who don’t have Teams.

Preparing for Retirement

As the retirement date for Skype for Business Online approaches, you can expect:

  • A huge effort by Microsoft to convince Office 365 tenants using Skype for Business Online to move to Teams. The last thing Microsoft wants is to have a substantial number of reluctant movers left as July 31, 2021 draws near. If you use Skype for Business Online today, expect to hear from Microsoft.
  • Microsoft will work out edge case scenarios like what happens to new tenants after September 1 who have Skype for Business on-premises servers and want to have a hybrid organization.
  • ISVs to speed up the delivery of more Teams phone and room devices to help customers switch out old devices designed for Skype for Business Online.
  • A ramp-up of migration services offered by Microsoft and third-party consulting companies. Remember that Teams is very different to Skype for Business Online, and switching in Teams as a 1-for-1 replacement isn’t a good strategy. It’s much better to figure out how Teams fits in your overall collaboration strategy first. And remember to consider questions like data governance and compliance when you deploy Teams too.

We have a whole chapter (16) covering the transition from Skype for Business Online in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. You should think about reading it!

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