Microsoft offers sneak preview of new Skype for Business enterprise features


Microsoft has released preview versions of some of the new enterprise-grade features that Office 365 subscribers can expect from the upcoming release of its UC solution, Skype for Business. Of interest to enterprise users in the latest beta version are three new capabilities: Skype Meeting Broadcast, PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling.

This latest beta version of the new features comes after Microsoft, the parent company of Skype, launched its latest version of Skype for Business earlier this year, with the promise of adding some new enterprise-grade capabilities this Summer.

Broadcast meetings

Of the preview features, Skype Meeting Broadcast is perhaps the most significant for enterprise customers. The feature allows a single person to create a Webinar-style virtual meeting and broadcast it to up to 10,000 attendees, each of whom can ‘dial in’ using a browser on almost any device. It allows companies to host large internal or public meetings and webinars, and is integrated with social media capabilities, such as Bing Pulse, which can supply real-time polls, and Yammer to allow attendees to contribute to the meeting.

PSTN (public-switched telephone network) Conferencing, meanwhile, allows invitees to dial into meetings using a landline or mobile phone, and will be particularly useful for attendees unable to connect to the Internet. However, this feature can only be previewed by Office 365 subscribers in the US.

The third new Skype for Business preview feature is a cloud-hosted PBX service, which allows user to receive and make traditional calls from within their Skype for Business client, including enterprise-grade capabilities, such as hold, forward and transfer. The new functionality is built on existing enterprise voice technology in Lync Server and Skype for Business Server. Microsoft plans to ship Cloud PBX to global customers this Autumn, but again the preview feature is only available to Office 365 customers based in the US and who are using PSTN.

Users wanting to test the new features will need to subscribe to the Office 365 Enterprise Plan, or Skype for Business Plan 2.


About Author

Gary Eastwood

Gary Eastwood has over 15 years of experience as a technology and business journalist and editor. He has held editorship positions on customer magazines for Microsoft, CSC, and EDF, as well as on B2B magazine Mobile Enterprise. He is the former Deputy Editor of Computer Business Review. In a freelance role, Gary has contributed numerous features and articles to a broad range of publications, including New Scientist, Computer Weekly, MIS, Marketing Week, Corporate Financier, Real Business, Wireless Business Review, and driven marketing communications projects for clients, such as Intel, the Confederation of British Industry, IBM, Logicalis, the Department of Trade & Innovation, and many others. Gary has written many white papers on a range of ITC subjects for Datamonitor. He is also an editorial photographer and business videographer, and has authored and ghost-written four books on photography. He is the Co-Director of EastwoodMiddleton Publishing, which provides contract/customer magazines for a growing list of clients, and publishes the B2B magazine for business leaders, Strategist.