You probably used Skype or at least heard about it before but you never knew there are more than one version? Or perhaps you heard about Skype for Business and Skype Meetings but you don’t know how to distinguish between all of these alternatives? Don’t worry, we are here to shed light on this topic and help you decide which one suits your company the best. For those who wonder what Skype is all about, we came up with a brief history bellow:
What is Skype? Brief history
Skype was founded in 2003 and has been a division of Microsoft since 2011 after Microsoft bought the company and all its technologies for $8.5 billion. Its founding fathers are two Estonians namely Priit Kaselasu and Jaan Tallinn.
Skype allows its users to communicate over the internet by sending instant messages, making video and voice calls, desktop sharing, transferring digital documents like images, audio files and documents. As far as Skype’s underlying infrastructure goes, the software transitioned from peer-to-peer service to Microsoft’s cloud computing system called Azure.
In 2007 Microsoft released Office Communications which four years later became Microsoft Lync. It was then available on desktop, Android and iOS devices. In 2015 Lync was rebranded into Skype for Business which combines features of both Lynch and Skype. This name change gave it brand recognition but has also got people a bit confused.
Microsoft’s own messaging application called Windows Live Messanger was replaced by Skype Meetings in 2016 and was pre-installed on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It is an audio and video conference tool designed for smaller businesses.
But which are the distinctive features of each and every one of these versions?
Type of service provided
- Skype (regular) – General consumer
This regular Skype version that one uses at home is most suitable for the average user but also for startups of up to 20 users. It enables a person to chat to other people through IM, voice and video call, screen sharing. A small business can download Skype on any device and establish communication between employees and clients for free or a small cost from any place around the world. Unlike the tools designed for enteprise use, regular Skype does not compare to the performance of a big company phone system.
- Skype for Meetings – smaller businesses
As the title implies, this Skype version is mainly used for meetings. It is considered a premium version even if it allows users to connect with their team for free. You can collaborate at first with up to 10 people (up to 3 people after 60 days).
- Skype for Business – larger businesses
Skype for Business has a more professional interface and is designed for larger enterprises and provides enterprise-grade security. It allows you to manage employee accounts, and is integrated into your Office apps. It costs $2/month, per user.
With regular Skype you can share stories, learn a new language, celebrate someone’s birthday or hold a business meeting. You can use it on your desktop/laptop, TV or mobile phone. Skype is a free service but making calls to the landlines or mobiles phones requires purchasing credit via Skype Credit account. This option is interesting for users who want to contact others who do not have this app or do not have an internet connection.
- Skype for Meetings
You can collaborate with your team members using group HD web conferencing. Participants can share their screen or PPT presentations, they can use laser pointer and collaborative whiteboard features to make it more efficient and engaging. The organizers have access to specific controls in the way that they are able to mute or unmute the audience to be heard but this function is available only in the United States.
- Skype for Business
Skype for Business is made for conference calls with videos or presentations. It has some useful integration into Office 365 apps. This means that you will always enjoy having the latest versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well as cloud and email storage. It allows you to send IM or make voice/video calls directly from a Word or PowerPoint document. It can also be integrated with the Outlook plugin so all the details for a particular meeting or conference call can be found on the Outlook template.
Apart from hosting a meeting in real time, Skype for Business enables you to schedule an online meeting well in advance. The NAT tool provides the ability to test the network performance and connectivity to check if the network would perform well for a Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business Online calls.
It provides enterprise-grade security which is crucial judging by the fact that security is concerning every business nowadays. Microsoft offers many options for enabling users to call landlines and mobile phones through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and this Skype version makes no exceptions. Here, the PSTN has more enterprise features which can replace an office telephone system.
Call Analytics Dashboard enable admins to easier diagnose and fix issues users encounter on their call. A couple of other call center technology provider Call Tools allow businesses to set up menus that participants can navigate using the keypad on their phones as well as place callers into a queue based on the time they dialed in to avoid that users answer the same call.
Even though Skype for Business is more stable than the other two versions, it is not as reliable if you need to contact someone (customer, retailer, business associate which are outside the office). It works best when you call a colleague who is also in 365. Thus, managing two Skype accounts proves to be inconvenient for the user.
It is nice that Skype for Business has integrated into Office apps, but people have deemed many of these apps unnecessary and that is the reason why most companies did not hurry to change their Skype version.
Regular Skype and Skype Meetings are free apps depending on the number of users.
Skype for Business is available from $2/month as either a stand-alone product or as part of Microsoft Office 365.
We believe it is up to every individual or company to choose the Skype version that fits their specific needs the most.