Microsoft: Skype for Business Online is now retired. Here's what happens next

With Skype for Business Online heading into the sunset, Microsoft is encouraging customers to head to Teams instead.

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Skype for Business Online has been officially retired, exactly two years after Microsoft announced its plans to transition customers and their users to a "Teams only" environment.  

Skype for Business Online was officially retired on July 31, although some organizations that haven't migrated yet still have access to it, assuming they've signed up for Microsoft's "assisted upgrades", which began on August 1 and target last mile migration steps. 

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Assisted upgrades reduce the number of technical tasks admins need to do and help organizations prepare for the shift and deliver Teams end-user training.

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Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 for $8.5 billion when it still had ambitions for Windows Phone and saw opportunities to integrate it with Lync VOIP platform, Outlook mail, Messenger instant-messaging, Hotmail Web mail and Xbox Live gaming service.

"Organizations that are scheduled for assisted upgrades after July 31, 2021 will be able to use Skype for Business Online until their upgrade is complete," the Microsoft Teams group notes in a blogpost.

The assisted upgrade experience should take about 24 hours for most customers. It will be different for those on Skype for Business Online-only and Skype for Business Online with hybrid environment:  

  • Skype for Business Online-only: The assisted upgrade process will apply the TeamsUpgradeOverridePolicy policy to the tenant. When this policy is applied, all Skype for Business Online users will be placed in Teams Only mode.
  • Skype for Business Online users in hybrid environment: The assisted upgrade will only switch Skype for Business Online users to Teams Only mode if they're not already in that mode. Skype for Business Server users won't be impacted by the assisted upgrade process and will remain on-premises.

After the assisted upgrade, users sign out of Skype for Business Online and start using Teams for messaging, meetings and calling. After the upgrade, all new online users will be added in "Teams Only" mode, ending the "Coexistence Mode" available until then. 

Microsoft has a description of changes that will happen for users when organizations move to Teams Only mode.  

One group the end of support deadline doesn't apply to immediately is GCC-High and Department of Defense cloud customers. 

Those cloud customers "will complete their transitions to Teams after the retirement of Skype for Business Online, and will receive scheduling information directly as well as through their account teams," Microsoft notes. 

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Microsoft hasn't said what its plans are for Skype for consumers. However, in Windows 11, Microsoft is replacing the Skype Meet Now button with a Teams Chat icon, signaling a brighter future for the Teams at the expense of Skype. 

Skype got a "Meet Now" feature when Microsoft announced its Microsoft 365 branding in March 2020. Since then, Microsoft has made Teams consumer features more broadly available, including special features like Together Mode where video meeting participants are superimposed with AI-segmenting technology in a common room.

"The retirement of Skype for Business Online does not affect the Skype consumer service, Skype for Business Server products and Skype for Business Online operated by 21Vianet (China Sovereign Clouds Instance)," it said.