Microsoft readies preview of Skype Professional tool for online-centric small businesses

Microsoft's Skype Professional service will bring Skype together with a number of small-business-focused tools.

Video: Your Skype account just got a new contact: AI assistant Cortana

Microsoft is readying a new variant of Skype that's aimed at small online businesses.

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(Image: Microsoft)

Skype Professional, a preview of which Microsoft will make available "soon" for US users only, to start, is a new type of Skype account. It allows users to market their brands, schedule sessions, get paid, save notes on customers, and more from a single service.

In a Nov.13 blog post about the coming Skype for Professional service, Microsoft officials didn't elaborate on what the branding, time management, payment, and other related tools that will be part of the bundle will be. My guess is they're the same small-business tools that Microsoft currently offers as part of its various Office 365 plans, such as Listings, Invoicing, Bookings, and Outlook Customer Manager, etc. I have a question in to Microsoft about this.

The Skype Professional account will be free, but it's not clear if users will have to subscribe to a paid Office 365 account to take full advantage of all of the integrated business services. I've also asked Microsoft about that. (No word back yet.)

The types of customers Microsoft is targeting with this new bundle are those who conduct their businesses online. Examples include those involved in online education (languages, music), wellness (nutrition, yoga), coaching (life/career coach), tele-health (psychology), business consulting, legal and financial services, real estate, travel, and entertainment.

Microsoft is increasingly positioning its Skype consumer service as more of a Snapchat competitor than something business customers would use. Microsoft also is in the early stages of replacing Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams. This new Skype Professional account seems to be for small/midsize business (SMB) users who want something more professional than Skype consumer, but don't find Teams to be the best solution for their companies.

US-based users can apply for a chance for one of the limited spots in the upcoming preview by filling out a form on Microsoft's Skype Professional page.

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