Microsoft Teams Client can’t replace Skype for Business client…yet

Ben SteginkUncategorized1 Comment

Last week (Friday, August 24, 2018) Microsoft published a blog post “Microsoft Teams is now a complete meeting and calling solution“. In that article, they went on to claim that “Today, we are pleased to announce we have completed our roadmap for bringing Skype for Business Online features and functionality into Teams, and Teams is ready to meet your messaging, meeting and calling needs.” I have had several conversations on twitter, about why I disagree with this announcement and figured I would turn it into a blog post.

Why do I disagree?

There are a few key points I disagree with. The actual title of the article, I don’t have as big a disagreement with.  Technically, I could be convinced this is mostly true.  The bigger issue I have is with the claim that Skype for Business Online feature and functionality are now all in Teams. Until I can actually uninstall my Skype for Business client on my Mac, I will hold firm in my disagreement and statement that this is blatantly false, and here is why:

  1. Ok..to start with “a completely meeting and calling solutions”.  Technically, this is true from a pure meeting/calling standpoint, the functionality is there to make/receive calls, host meeting with internal/external attendees and host webinar type (Teams Live) meetings. However, what if I want to have an ad-hoc meeting with one of my Skype for Business contacts? This is where I begin to take issue and leads to point #2
  2. My Skype for Business contact list IS NOT in Microsoft Teams. If Teams is feature complete and a replacement for Skype for Business, my contacts should be in Microsoft Teams. I have random contact showing up here and there, but 95% of them are missing. To make matter worse I can’t add them or move them around in groups. In Skype for Business, I have multiple groups of contacts. In Teams, the groups DO show up, but they are empty and I can’t add anyone to them.  The ONLY place I can add contacts is in Favorites, and no offense, you are not all my favorite 🙂 Until I can add, sort, group and actually SEE contacts in Microsoft Teams, I can’t get rid of Skype for Business. See this thread on Twitter where others have similar experiences and how some people have had them show up, only to disappear again multiple times.
  3. If you looked at the twitter thread in point 2, the also brings me to point 3. Federation ONLY works with Office 365 accounts. Skype for Business Online allows you to chat with federated Skype for Business tenant both Online AND On-Premises. Microsoft Teams supports federation ONLY if you have an Office 365 presence. Until I can chat with ALL of my federated contacts, in my mind, bringing the feature parity just isn’t there.  This functionality is coming, but it isn’t there yet. Depending on semantics you could spin this to say that chatting with federated users is in Teams, therefore the feature of being able to chat with the feature to federated users that is in Skype for Business is complete.  yeah…OK, is all marketing spin, that’s dancing a fine line in my opinion.
  4. Sharing my screen WITHOUT initiating a phone call. In Skype for Business today, I can share my screen without initiating a video call.  We can continue our text-based instant messages while sharing a screen.  This feature is completely missing from the Teams Client. It’s not even one that’s partially implemented where I can do it with co-workers but not with federated tenants.  It’s just not an option.  If you want to share a screen, you have to jump on a voice/video call.
  5. There is still some weirdness in where instant messages go. This may be due to the fact that I have Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business installed.  Federated clients send me messages from their instance of Microsoft Teams and it still comes to my Skype for Business client instead of Teams.  The same thing for me, I’ll send a message from Teams and it will go to their Skype for Business Client. Some messages I’ve tried to send from Teams never appeared to have made it to a federated client. Maybe it was lost in their Teams client, maybe they were in Skype for Business and didn’t see it in teams.  But the whole routing of messages is still weird.  This isn’t really a lack of getting features into Teams, but before I uninstall Skype for Business I would love to be able to verify and see that ALL the IMs are now going to my Teams client.

You do have to give Microsoft some credit

While I will blatantly disagree with their claim to have feature completeness of Skype for Business features in Microsoft Teams, I will give them some credit for getting as far as they have.  When this was announced a year ago, I frankly didn’t believe they would have made it this far in their progress of merging the two platforms in the course of 12 months.  I’m also looking forward to the day where Microsoft Teams truly is feature complete and I can completely uninstall Skype for Business. Overall, my experience in using the Teams client is far superior to what I’ve experienced using the Skype for Business client, especially on a Mac. Voice calls, video calls and even screen sharing seem to work really well with a lot less lag than Skype for Business.  So, Microsoft, keep up the good work on Teams, I’m looking forward to the day where I can get rid of my Skype for Business client.  But, for my sake as well as the sake of all my clients I need to explain this to, PLEASE, don’t make announcements like this when there are actually features still missing and not working. Wait until the roadmap is actually 100% completely and not 99.5% complete. Especially when some of these missing features are things people rely on every day.