Microsoft Teams gets calling to external phone systems functionality

Microsoft is making good on its commitment to enable some advanced telephony capabilities in its Teams group-chat service.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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On Dec. 12, Microsoft began to roll out support for some of the advanced calling capabilities that previously were only in Skype for Business to its Microsoft Teams service.

Credit: Microsoft

From Microsoft's Tech Community blog post:

"Today we are releasing new calling capabilities in Teams, providing full featured dialing capabilities, complete with call history, hold/resume, speed dial, transfer, forwarding, caller ID masking, extension dialing, multi-call handling, simultaneous ringing, voicemail, and text telephone (TTY) support. You can expect this to roll out over the next few hours and should come soon to your tenant."

(Thanks to Directions on Microsoft's Jim Gaynor for the heads up on the addition of these new advanced calling features to Teams.)

To add calling to Teams, administrators need Phone System (the feature previously known as Cloud PBX), which is part of Office 365 and also available as an add-on for other Office 365 plan users. At that point, users can subscribe to a Calling Plan -- what was formerly known as PSTN Calling.

In October, Microsoft officials said that some of these advanced calling capabilities would be coming to Teams starting in the fourth quarter of calendar 2017. Adding support for these Skype for Business features to Teams is key to Microsoft's grand plan to migrate its Skype for Business Online users to Microsoft Teams, its chat-based workspace that is meant to compete with Slack.

While many enterprise-grade calling features aren't coming to Teams until the end of Q2 2018, a few like call parking, group call pickup, location-based routing, and shared-line appearance are not going to be there until Q4 2018. Call support between Teams and Skype Consumer is a Q2 2018 deliverable, officials said earlier this year.

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