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New Skype for Business Services in Office 365

Skype for Business Logo

Microsoft launched Skype for Business earlier this year with the outlook to deliver new Skype for Business voice and meeting capabilities in Office 365, beginning with a technical preview. These new capabilities will enhance the existing Skype for Business experience and offer a complete, enterprise-grade communications solution at global scale as part of Office 365. Now the technical preview is here. Starting December 1st, 2015, Office 365 enterprise customers can register for the following previews:

Skype Meeting Broadcast is available to eligible Office 365 customers worldwide. The new feature enables online broadcast of a Skype for Business meeting to up to 10,000 people, who can attend via web browser on nearly any device. Skype Meeting Broadcast makes it easy to host large virtual meetings, such as internal “Town Hall” meetings and public webinars. The preview includes integration with Bing Pulse, for real-time polling and sentiment tracking, and Yammer, to enable attendee dialogue during the broadcast.

PSTN Conferencing is available to Office 365 customers in several countries worldwide. It allows users to join a Skype for Business meeting in Office 365 by dialing in using a landline or mobile phone. This traditional dial-in capability is in addition to simple, single touch join options on PC, smartphone and web browser, and allows users to join an online meeting even in places without Internet access. PSTN Conferencing in Office 365 will also allow users to add additional attendees to a meeting by dialing out.

Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling is also available to Office 365 customers in several countries This will provide users the ability to make and receive traditional phone calls in their Skype for Business client, and manage these calls with functions such as hold, resume, call forwarding and transfer. The Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling is built on the proven and widely accepted enterprise voice technology available in Lync Server and Skype for Business Server. Microsoft will later extend this offer to customers worldwide, with a configuration option to use existing on-premises phone lines for inbound and outbound calling.

In addition to these technical previews, Microsoft and its strategic partners will provide direct connections via Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365 later this year to customers using Office 365 and Skype for Business. Azure ExpressRoute enables customers to create private connections between their in-house and Microsoft datacenters. This ensures more predictable network performance with the ability to better manage network availability and the reliability that comes with dedicated connectivity and additional data privacy.

Office 365 is the world’s cloud for productivity. With these advancements Microsoft is making enterprise-grade communications an integral part of Office 365. In doing so, Microsoft enables users to connect with one another across all forms of collaboration - verbal, written, visual and emotional. With these new services, Microsoft will bring traditional calling and conferencing into the new era of workplace communications and also add an entirely new way of communicating at a much higher scale with greater flexibility over the Internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the eligibility requirements to participate in the preview?

A. The Skype Meeting Broadcast preview is available worldwide to customers with an Office 365 enterprise plan or Skype for Business Plan 2. The previews of PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling are available in the United States to customers with an Office 365 enterprise plan or Skype for Business Plan 2.

Q. Can end users sign up for the trial?

A. No, only an Office 365 administrator can register for the trial. End users interested in trying the new services should contact the Office 365 administrator in their IT department.

Q. Are interested Office 365 customers required to trial all of the services currently in preview, or can they choose to preview only a subset?

A. Eligible Office 365 enterprise customers may choose to preview any or all of the services according to the geographies where each trial is available.

Q. When will these services be generally available, and how will they be priced?

A. Microsoft expects to make these services generally available at a later time. They will share pricing and licensing details following further announcements.

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