Since 2017, when Microsoft announced its Teams group-chat service would replace Skype for Business Online, customers have been asking about the cut-over deadline. Microsoft officials finally shared that date today. Skype for Business Online will be "retired" on July 31, 2021, officials said.
After July 31, 2021, Skype for Business will no longer be accessible. Between now and then, however, Skype for Business Online users will continue to use the service as usual and can continue to add new users, Microsoft's blog post says. Starting Sept. 1, 2019, however, all new Office 365 customers will be onboarded to Teams and won't have the option of selecting Skype for Business Online instead.
I asked Microsoft officials if customers would have an option to pay for a custom support agreement if they aren't ready to move from Skype for Business Online to Teams by July 2021 and was told by a spokesperson the company declined to comment.
Last summer, Microsoft officials claimed to have reached "feature parity" between Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. But not all users agreed.
One example of a lacking feature which a number of users said was keeping them from moving to Teams is federation between Skype consumer and Teams. I've been asking Microsoft if and when the company planned to enable this much-requested feature and was told the company had no comment. Today, Microsoft finally had a comment: Microsoft will be adding the ability for Teams and Skype consumer customers to communicate using chat and calling in the first calendar quarter of 2020.
In today's blog post, Microsoft officials mention other product and feature requests from current Skype for Business Online users which the company is working to address. Among those:
- Dynamic 911, which uses the caller's current location to route to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) call center run by the local government will be added for Teams users in the US by the end of calendar 2019.
- Shorter retention periods for channel and chat. New options will allow users to limit retention periods to as short as one day. Once data is deleted it will be removed from all permanent storage locations in Teams, officials said. This feature will be available in Teams by the end of calendar 2019.
- Contact Center Integration and Compliance recording. Microsoft is working with various certified partners to provide these contact-center capabilities.
Microsoft already offers technical guidance and planning resources for moving from Skype for Business Online to Teams, as well as instructor-led training and FastTrack onboarding assistance.
Just a reminder: The on-premises server version of Skype for Business is not being retired in 2021. Microsoft introduced Skype for Business Server 2019 in the fall 2018. Extended support for Skype for Business Server 2019 ends on Oct. 14, 2025.