This blog is part of a series on Teams. For more articles, check back often.

Written: 07/06/2020 | Updated: N/A

You know, Teams to Skype consumer interop is a really interesting one for me because for the longest time this functionality wasn’t going to happen. If you ever came across or looked up the associated Uservoice you would have seen it as being declined by the product team – and its not difficult to understand the reasons why Microsoft did for so long. Skype for Business online ends July 2021. Many feel it’s time to bid farewell to the Skype brand and move on. We get it. Many of us have, and many of us did so purely because of all the functionality and productivity adds Teams has over Skype. Except some organisations have held off precisely because it didn’t interop with Skype consumer; they needed it to work with other orgs and customers in a B2B and B2C context. Microsoft – all credit to them – had to make a call, and that call was Teams had to interop going forward. A 180 this may be – but ultimately, Microsoft has got it right. Nostalgia and sentimentality aside, there shouldn’t be any more reasons why an org should remain on Skype for Business online, but it’s gives the upside that Teams users will be able to message and call customers, or loved ones which use Skype consumer, and vice versa

This blog will cover

  • How to enable Teams users to communicate with Skype Users
  • How to initiate a chat with a Skype user from Teams
  • How to initiate a chat with a Teams user from Skype
  • How to initiate a call with a Skype user from Teams
  • How to initiate a call with a Teams user from Skype
  • How to block a Skype user in Teams
  • How to block a Teams user in Skype
  • Limitations of Teams and Skype Consumer Interop

This blog will utilise

The experience may differ with different clients. Microsoft state that interop will work on desktop, client and mobile app for both services

WHY WOULD WE DO IT?

  • To chat with and call Skype consumer users
  • For B2B and B2C communications

PREREQUISITES

Users need Teams licences – usually via Office/Microsoft 365 licences. Teams Admin permissions are needed to set external user settings in the Teams Admin Centre. Per documentation, Microsoft recommend Skype version 8.58 and later

HOW – ENABLING TEAMS USERS TO COMMUNICATICATE WITH SKYPE USERS

1.) Log into https://login.microsoftonline.com with your admin account

2.) Select Admin

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3.) Select Teams from the left nav under admin centres

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4.) Select Org-wide settings and then External users. Ensure that Users can communicate with Skype users is switched on. Select Save

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If you wanted to prevent Teams users from communicating with Skype users ensure that Users can communicate with Skype users is disabled, then Save

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HOW: INITIATING A CHAT WITH A SKYPE USER FROM TEAMS

1.) In Teams, select Chat from the left app bar

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2.) In a new chat, type the name of the Skype user and then select search for [user] externally.

Note: like searching for SFB users this can be a bit fiddly so it is recommended, if you don’t see this after trying several times, to ensure a.) That your client is updated b.) That external access for Skype users is enabled and for propagation time to occur. If all this has been done, try rewriting, re-typing the .com at the end which often triggers it or adding/removing a white space after you have typed the Skype users address

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3.) Select the user once Teams has found the user. The Skype user ought to have a Skype logo next to their name, an (External) designation as well as a live: designation

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4.) The Skype user is now added. You can now message a Skype user from the message bar. Unlike chats with Skype for Business or Teams users, chats with Skype users are only plain text chats at this time without emoji’s, gif’s, stickers

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5.) The experience of the Skype user – if this is a first time chat – is that they will receive a notification asking them to connect with the Teams user. Select Accept to start a conversation (or Block to block the Teams user)

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6.) A conversation can now take place between the Teams user and the Skype user

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HOW: INITIATING A CHAT WITH A TEAMS USER FROM SKYPE

1.) Login to https://web.skype.com with your account

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2.) Select Start a Conversation

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3.) Enter the address of the Teams user and Skype will search for the Teams user. Once found the Teams user will appear under the search. Select the Teams user

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4.) Start a conversation with the Teams user via the message bar

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5.) The experience of the Teams user – if this is a first time chat – is that they will receive a notification asking them to connect with the Skype user. Select Accept to start a conversation (or Block to block the Teams user)

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6.) A conversation can now take place between the Skype user and the Teams user

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HOW: INITIATING A CALL WITH A SKYPE USER FROM TEAMS

1.) In the chat with the Skype user, select the Audio call or Video call button at the top right of the chat to initiate the call

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2.) This will begin the call in Teams and prompt in the Skype client

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3.) Once answered in Skype the call proceeds

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4.) Cameras can be turned on within the call if required. Teams Background effects including background blur and custom backgrounds do work when making a video call to a Skype consumer user and the Skype consumer user can see them, however Skype consumer users do not have this feature set. They could however, use Snap Camera if they wanted to use effects and configure via the Skype Audio and Video settings

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HOW: INITIATING A CALL WITH A TEAMS USER FROM SKYPE

1.) In the chat with the Teams user, select the Audio call or Video call button at the top right of the chat to initiate the call

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2.) This will start the call in the Skype client and prompt in the Teams client

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3.) Once answered in Teams the call can proceed

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HOW: BLOCKING A SKYPE USER IN TEAMS

1.) You can block a user when a Skype user first tries to initiate a conversation. This is useful in scenarios where you may not know the user – or do not wish to communicate with them over Teams

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2.) Alternatively, if you have previously accepted and started communicating with the Skype user and wish to block them, right click on the chat and select Block

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3.) You can unblock the Skype user in a few different ways, via unblock at the bottom of the conversation, via the chat options, or via the privacy settings in the menu

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HOW: BLOCKING A TEAMS USER IN SKYPE

1.) Right click on the conversation with the Teams user and select View Profile. You can also get to the profile via contacts, then View Profile

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2.) Scroll down and select Block Contact. There is an option to report abuse before blocking

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3.) To unblock select More Options (…) at the top of the Skype screen and then select Settings

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4.) Select Contacts and then Blocked Contacts

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5.) Select Unblock next to the contact for the Teams user to be unblocked

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LIMITATIONS OF TEAMS AND SKYPE CONSUMER INTEROP

Interop between Teams and Skype is limited. Limitations include

1.) Chat which is text only. No emoji’s, GIF’s or Stickers. Also, no file sharing, no rich formatting or mentions
2.) 1:1 chat and calls only. Group chats and calls are not supported
3.) Presence isn’t discoverable or shared
4.) No ability to share screen, including PowerPoints and Whiteboard
5.) No ability to record the call
6.) No ability for live captions

Perhaps these features will come over time. I’ll probably end up raising a few on Uservoice

CONCLUSION

Our work here is done. Teams and Skype consumer Interop is GA and it is possible to get connected with Skype consumer users today. Whilst interop is limited in scope, chat and calling is possible, and this in itself is a step forward. However, it will be interesting to see over the next few months and for the rest of the year how many make the move and how many remain. Is there a particular functionality which organisations will highlight – such as group chats – which is currently a limitation and which will give them a reason to remain where they are? Let’s hope Microsoft continue to push on and remove any further reason to stay on Skype for Business online

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