Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business : What's New?

Microsoft Teams offers persistent chat and collaboration tools; Skype for Business focuses on traditional chat and calls with federation.
Dominic Kent
Dominic Kent is a content marketer specializing in unified communications and contact centers.

The comparison of Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business is an inadequate one.

Both tools have changed the way we communicate.

Both tools offer excellent user interfaces and a fantastic collaboration experience.

However, they are incredibly different ways of working.

This post walks through key differences in technology, but also in processes and the way your business can work using these technologies.

Let’s jump right in.

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business basics

1 – Persistent chat

Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business both enable real-time chat. Dispersed teams had long required an alternative to the unproductive phone call experience.

Whilst calls, audio or video, can be productive, interruptions due to lack of presence often disrupted deep work.

Skype for Business and its previous versions (Lync, Microsoft OCS) transformed the way businesses communicated.

However, in Skype for Business, once a chat was closed or the working day was over, the chat was lost.

Chat logs were kept in Outlook or Exchange, but the conversation ended when the chat was deemed over or timed out.

Microsoft Teams introduces persistent chat.

Microsoft Teams group chat

As you can see in the screenshot above, the chat history is presented in a familiar style to Skype for Business.

However, unlike when you log into Skype for Business the morning, the chat will remain from the previous day, week or month.

For as long as you need to retain the information sent or received in a chat, you can keep it in your chat channel.

This applies for both one to one messaging and team messaging. We’ll come onto team messaging in a second.

Images, files and links are all retained, on top of standard messages, emojis and GIFs.

GIFs also appear in Microsoft Teams, making it easier to express yourself than in Skype for Business.

You may like Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams Auto-Upgrades: FAQ

2 – Team messaging

Like persistent chat from one person to another, teams can be created to produce an ongoing stream of information for a set topic.

Teams can be setup on a per department basis, per project, per customer or any basis desired.

Below is an example of multiple users chatting within a set team. You can see a posts within the Alexandria Project “team”.

Microsoft Teams team usage

Users can share messages, files, emojis, GIFs and stickers with other members of the specified team.

Within the team, users can also start a team meeting by hitting the Meet Now button.

Microsoft Teams meet now
Image: M365 Admin

This transforms your team messaging interface into a full meeting experience.

Included here is a wealth of Microsoft Teams meeting features. Some of these will be familiar from your Skype for Business experience.

3 – Meetings

Many meeting features will be similar to Skype for Business, making Teams adoption simple and intuitive.

Common features like call recording, screen sharing and file uploads are all retained in Microsoft Teams.

The interface changes from blue to purple and a meeting is now hosted within the pane that contains all your team and one to one chats.

New features to start utilizing include in Microsoft Teams include:

  • Background blur (now made available in Skype)
  • Customized backgrounds
  • Whiteboard masking – this means when someone is physically drawing on a whiteboard, their body won’t be in the way
  • Live captions
  • Live events with access available to users outside of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business advanced features

Whether you’re moving from Skype to Teams out of choice or due to a Skype for Business auto upgrade, you should be aware that Microsoft Teams opens the door to a raft of functionality you didn’t have before.

Transitioning from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams

Meetings and messaging have always been part of Skype for Business.

The features outlined next are elements you can introduce to your business to enhance productivity, reduce app switching and make teams more collaborative.

1 – Microsoft Teams integration

Skype for Business native integration was restricted to predominantly calling from telephony apps and systems.

Third party apps like Zapier provided IFTTT functionality.

Integration between other collaboration apps has been introduced but focus has shifted to Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft even announced the end of life program for the integration of Skype for Business with third-party audio conferencing providers.

When you migrate to Microsoft Teams, the Teams app store is full of your most used and most critical apps that can be added to your Microsoft Teams tenant as a “tab”.

Microsoft Teams app page
Image: Microsoft Learn

The Teams app store features hundreds of apps that bring your favorite apps into Microsoft Teams.

This reduces the time spent switching between apps and tabs and frees up hours of productivity.

Below you can see the KanBo project management interface being used within a tab of Microsoft Teams.

KanBo integration in Microsoft Teams

We’ve put together a list of the 40 best Microsoft Teams integrations here.

2 – Microsoft Teams guest access

If you used the federation capability in Skype for Business, you will already know the benefits of enabling a common chat app between external parties.

For example, sales teams can communicate with their customers and partners if both parties have Skype for Business – and both turn on federation.

For any supplier/buyer relationship or external consultant environment, federation was a great way for external parties to remain connected without resorting to email or a phone call.

Below, you can see the label that shows a user is connected via an external network (federation).

In Microsoft Teams, the experience differs due to the team collaboration environment.

Federation does not currently exist natively for one to one messaging. Microsoft’s official stance on federation within Microsoft Teams is highlighted here:

“In order to currently federate within the Microsoft Teams client to an external user outside of your organization who’s not currently a Guest of your AAD/Tenant, you must be correctly setup for hybrid and moved to Skype for Business Online.“

Instead, Microsoft enables guest access so that external parties with Microsoft Teams accounts of their own can act as guests in your Microsoft Teams team.

Here, the user can access files, messages, and meetings of the team they are invited to – even if they are part of another organization.

Guest access doesn’t grant full access to the external party. Admins are able to prescribe what can and cannot be accessed by guests.

Guest access in Microsoft Teams gives access to an individual. Federation in Skype for Business gives access permission to an entire domain.

Adding a guest to a team is simple. Check out this GIF showing you how.

Adding a guest to a team in Microsoft Teams

At Microsoft Ignite in March 2021, Microsoft announced it will be launching Teams Connect later in the year.

Much like Slack Connect, Teams Connect will provide shared channel functionality in Microsoft Teams.

Federation with platforms outside the Microsoft stack

Does your organization use Google Chat, Slack, Webex, or Zoom Chat in addition to Microsoft Teams?

Has this resulted in fragmented communication between departments and colleagues?

When this is the case, it becomes extremely unproductive to move out of Teams, into your colleague’s choice of app, and starting the conversation again.

Or even worse, end up resorting to email like it’s the 90s. (Okay, email has a purpose but you get the point).

That’s why Mio empowers cross-platform collaboration for Microsoft Teams with Google Chat or Zoom Team Chat.

You can stay in Teams and send messages to contacts on other platforms.

They stay in their platform too and Mio translates the messages across apps.

And it’s not just messages that are supported! GIFs, emojis, channels, DMs, and message edits/deletes are all supported.

If this sounds like something you need, learn more today.

3 – File storage

When you create a new team in Microsoft Teams, this also creates a new SharePoint site in your Microsoft back end.

Because of this, each document or file that you upload to the team – either in the team messaging area or to the files tab – will be saved in SharePoint.

You will, of course, need the necessary licensing to achieve this. Microsoft Teams Free doesn’t include SharePoint access.

Restriction on usage also applies in the free version.

The limit for file storage is set as 2GB per user in Microsoft Teams Free and 1TB per user in paid versions.

Microsoft Teams OneDrive file storage
Image: Microsoft Support

Microsoft Teams vs Skype for Business future

If you have decided to migrate now, or are planning to soon, you’ll want to know what’s coming for both apps.

1 – Skype for Business Online

Skype for Business Online is set to go end of life on 31st July 2021.

Whilst Microsoft Teams is not a direct replacement for Skype for Business Online, it is where Microsoft is moving to – which means customers must too.

Laptop with Skype for Business open

2 – Skype for Business Server

Microsoft has committed to Skype for Business Server for years to come.

SFB server is the software that provides the infrastructure for enterprise messaging, presence, VoIP, ad hoc and structured conferences, and PSTN connectivity.

Skype for Business Server 2019 continues to see enhancements on a regular basis. New features added in February include:

  • Cloud Voicemail
  • Call Data Connector
  • Side-by-side migration

However, the below features were announced end of life in Skype for Business Server in November

  • XMPP Gateways for Skype for Business Server
  • Persistent Chat for Skype for Business Server (functionality available in Teams)
  • SQL Mirroring for Skype for Business Server
  • In-place upgrades
  • Mobility Service (Mcx)

3 – Microsoft Teams roadmap

During Enterprise Connect, Microsoft announced some new features aimed to enhance productivity and tie up the meeting and collaboration experience.

  • Secure private channels
  • Information barriers
  • Calendar app
  • Live captions
  • Customized backgrounds
  • Content cameras and intelligent capture
  • Microsoft whiteboard
  • Enhancements to the Chrome browser meeting experience
  • Live events in Microsoft 365
  • Meetings first
  • New meeting devices
  • New supported handsets

The public Microsoft 365 roadmap is available here. At the time of writing, there are 86 in-development items that Microsoft is working on bringing to Teams.

You can also view items that are currently being rolled out and that have been recently launched.

For an in-depth rundown of the best Microsoft Teams features you could be utilizing, we’ve also put together a Microsoft Teams feature guide.

Microsoft Teams vs anything else?

If you are using your Skype for Business upgrade to shop around or consolidate other messaging apps, you may not need to.

It is often thought that moving to one app means you have to move all users to this app. This is no longer the case.

If you use Skype for Business as your primary chat tool, and are moving to Microsoft Teams, you can keep your internal Slack or Webex users too.

With Mio’s enterprise tool, you can achieve messaging interoperability so users on each platform are forever in sync.

Teams users can stay in Teams.

Google Chat users can stay in Google Chat.

Learn more at

Posted in:
Related stories
Collaboration Leaders
Managing Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 Coexistence: A Discussion with Jorge Arias and Tom Hadfield
Industry News
Mio enables cross-platform collaboration through partnership with Google Workspace and SADA
Unified Communications
Long-term Coexistence: Bridging Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 for Sustainable Collaboration

Get the latest news from Mio in your inbox.

Join over 4,000 people who get collaboration tips once a month.