It’s hard to compete with Microsoft’s “Skype” solution for VoIP and communication. Ever since it was rebranded from “Lync” in 2011, Skype for Business and Skype have been promoting a new standard in the world of collaboration and communication for enterprise and residential users alike. But, do you really need Skype for Business in your company or is the consumer Skype just as good?
When choosing between Skype for Business and standard Skype, it’s easy to be seduced by the fact that Skype is absolutely free. The only thing that costs money is making calls to non-Skype numbers, like landlines and mobiles. On the other hand, Standalone Skype for Business plans are available for a cost of £1.30 per user, per month, based on an annual contract.
If you pay the lowest level for Skype for Business, you’ll only get basic features. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, you’ll need the more expensive plan, which comes in at £3.40 per user per month. Of course, you do get more for your money, including a range of different features, interoperability with other teleconferencing systems, and persistent chat.
The good news is that if you already have an Office 365 Business Essential or Premium plan, then you’ll have access to Skype for Business as standard – totally free of charge.
Platform Compatibility and Number of Users
Skype has been around for quite some time now, so it’s not surprising that it’s available on almost every platform. It works well no matter where you use it, and remains to be one of the world’s most popular VoIP app. Unfortunately, Skype for Business is only available on Windows-based mobile and desktop. While you can get an iOS or Android app, you don’t get the fully-fledged Skype for Business experience.
Another area where the two versions differ is in their ability to support certain numbers of users. While the original version of Skype supports up to 20 users at a time, Skype for Business can offer conferences for up to 250 people. If you need an even bigger solution, you can broadcast to as many as 10,000 people online!
Security and Features
Skype for Business comes with all the features you might expect from Skype, including instant messaging, HD video, and voice calls. The solutions have been tweaked for enterprise use, but functionality remains largely the same. Additionally, as a core staple of Microsoft base products, Skype for Business also pushes integrations with the rest of the Office portfolio. For instance, you can share screens within calls on OneNote.
Skype for Business also has a great service license agreement, which guarantees an uptime of 99.9% for users. While Skype does offer good service, it lacks any significant commitment. Additionally, the two products run on different servers, demonstrated by the 15-hour Skype outage that took place in September 2015, which left business users untouched.
Just like any traffic from Office 365, Skype for Business is encrypted through TLS, ensuring secure communications. What’s more, another benefit of choosing the business offering instead of the standard app is the compliance and management capability it offers. This allows for corporate departments in IT sectors to manage across broader networks.
Which is Right for You?
If you’re working in a small team, then the basic consumer Skype might be more than enough for your needs. After all, it’s used around the world by millions of people for recreation and work and supports all the same functionalities as the business option.
However, if you’re planning on deploying Skype throughout an entire company, you’re going to need the increased abilities of the Skype for Business solution. This is also a better option for anyone who already has an Office 365 subscription.
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