Microsoft announced at its Ignite 2017 conference that it would be merging Skype for Business with Teams its chat-based workspace in Office 365 that focuses on real-time collaborations. Skype for Business, for which several organizations pay a monthly subscription fee to access advanced features like automated voice system that routes in-coming calls to recipients, is now practically dead. It was launched three years ago as an improved version of Microsoft’s erstwhile video-conferencing software Lync. Teams, meanwhile, is less than a year old.
Microsoft is said to be working on a new Skype infrastructure that will serve as the enterprise-grade service for voice, video, and meetings in Microsoft Teams, according to The Verge. The software giant is also strengthening the AI capabilities in Microsoft Teams, and will offer machine learning, speech recognition and other cognitive services to improve the e-meeting experience for clients. Microsoft already bundles Teams in its Office 365 suite. Millions of Office 365 customers would naturally make the move to Teams once Skype for Business shuts down. ALSO READ: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says he voted against Nokia acquisition in 2013
Teams was launched in November 2016 as a competition to Slack the enormously popular real-time work messaging platform. Teams looks and feels a lot like Slack with its threaded chats, private one-on-one conversation channels, activity notifications, files, notes, and so on. “Microsoft Teams will bring together chat, meeting, notes, Office, Planner, PowerBI, and a host of extensions and applications to help teams get work done,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said at the launch. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote are also built-into the service. Teams can also extended to open APIs. ALSO READ: India s Slack competitor Flock expands to five more countries, adds multilingual support
Teams directly competes with Slack that has 5 million daily users, of which 1.5 million are paying customers. On the day of Teams’ launch, Slack had issued a full-page ad in a leading US newspaper with some “friendly advice” for Microsoft. The ad was later posted on the official Slack blog. It said, “We’ve spent tens of thousands of hours talking to customers and adapting Slack to find the grooves that match all those human quirks. The internal transparency and sense of shared purpose that Slack-using teams discover is not an accident. Tiny details make big differences.” A Skype for Business integration is possibly the “tiny detail” that was missing in Teams.