In 2003, when video chatting was primarily something we did at home when we wanted to connect with our distant friends and family more personably than with a simple phone call, many of us clicked on Skype. It became a verb– "When you get home, let's Skype"– and was synonymous with all video calls.

Over the first decade of its existence, Skype was used in boardrooms and the home offices of remote workers. Then, in 2015 it got a promotion and Skype for Business was born.

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In today's increasingly crowded online meeting field, what makes Skype for Business stand out from the rest? When you choose any new software for your company, your final decision will likely come down to accessibility and security.

Skype for Business Accessibility

Skype for Business can be downloaded to and accessed from any device you currently own, no matter the manufacturer. Additionally, you don't even need a smartphone to call in and access Skype for Business meetings, making it one of the most attainable and user-friendly choices for your online meetings. Whether you're setting up your monthly meeting with your satellite office across the pond or receiving project updates from your remote team members, Skype for Business will keep you connected.

Skype for Business Security

When Microsoft, one of the most trusted security corporations in the world, is overseeing your Skype for Business activity, you can sleep soundly knowing your data is in trusted hands. Microsoft guarantees all users, calls, and accounts are made secure with strong encryption and authentication. Plus, the platform allows managers and team leaders the ability to control which accounts can attend meetings and who can access different features throughout the call, leaving the power in your hands.

What's the difference between Skype and Skype for Business?

Simply put, in April 2015, Microsoft rebranded its office communication tool, Lync, to Skype for Business. I know what you're thinking, "What's the difference"? Or maybe, "Do I really need two forms of Skype"? In a word: Yes. In a convincing sentence: Yes you do, and you won't regret it! Skype for Business and Skype are vastly different even though they share a common name. They are both communication tools, they have a similar logo and same color scheme, but that is where their similarities end.

Skype Features

Skype allows you to communicate with any other Skype users for free via IM, voice, video and screen sharing, and conference calls for up to 25 people. Skype itself can be used for business, but it is best used for personal reasons or small organizations. For example, you could integrate Skype use into the workings of your small organization and have seamless communication throughout your team for free, while also being able to communicate from any location on any device. Skype is a well-connected system, just take it from them, "Try Skype today and start adding your friends, family, and colleagues. They won't be hard to find; hundreds of millions of people are already using Skype to do all sorts of things together".

Skype for Business Features

Skype is a useful tool, but it doesn't have all the functionality of an online meeting platform, which is where Skype for Business comes in. Skype for Business offers the same features as Skype and more. First, Skype for Business allows for advanced call routing and handling that most businesses require. You can set up hunt groups (a group of people designated to take incoming calls), delegates, advanced forwarding options, and auto attendants, most of which are needed in a large enterprise setting, according to Microsoft themselves.

Additionally, with Skype for Business, meetings can be broadcast in high-definition video and audio, delivering your team the best quality access no matter their location. The classic Skype instant messaging, now repurposed, allows each team member to contribute in real-time, and users can revisit messages sent during the meeting and time-stamped notes even after the meeting has ended for optimum accessibility.

How to Use Skype for Business for Video Conferencing

Starting a video group call in the office, or joining one from your remote location is easy. Even during an impromptu meeting through Skype for Business, you will have access to shared PowerPoint slides, whiteboard collaboration, and desktop sharing. Follow along with Microsoft's guide and you'll be in your next virtual meeting in no time.

Start a conference call.

Make sure your contacts are available by checking their present status first. Then follow the steps below to invite them to the conference call.

  1. In the Skype for Business main window, in your Contacts list, hold down the Ctrl key and click the names of your contacts to select them for your meeting.
  2. Right-click the selection, and click Start a Conference Call.
  3. Click Skype Call.

Your contacts then receive a notification and can accept or decline your request for the conference call.

Add more people to the video conference call.

If you need to add more people to your video conference call, you can drag their names into the meeting from your Contacts list. Or add them by using the people menu:

  1. In the conversation window, in the Participants pane, click Invite More People.
  2. Select someone from the list, and then click OK. Skype for Business calls the person for you and adds them to the meeting.

Video conferencing is an enhanced meeting experience, giving participants the opportunity to catch visual cues, body language, and be an equal part of creative brainstorms or important company decisions. Owl Labs' Meeting Owl Pro is compatible with both Skype and Skype for Business, empowering you to get face to face with coworkers at the click of a button.

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