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Microsoft Teams, consumer Skype interoperability now available

Users of Microsoft Teams and consumer Skype can now message and call one another -- with some limitations.

Microsoft this month enabled communication between Microsoft Teams and the consumer version of Skype. The release came months later than initially planned and years after users first requested the feature.

The integration lets users of Teams and Skype message and call one another. The feature's absence had frustrated businesses that had grown accustomed to the same level of interoperability between Skype for Business and consumer Skype.

Some businesses told Microsoft they were waiting to migrate from Skype for Business to Teams until the vendor added interoperability with Skype. Others had to use both Teams and Skype to keep in touch with contacts.

John Gwinner recently served as the CIO of a California-based supply chain firm that used Teams but needed Skype to stay in touch with suppliers around the world. "Most of the users kept Skype open on their desktop so that they could still receive incoming calls," he said.

The newly launched integration between Teams and Skype comes with limitations, however. It does not support group chats or presence. Also, Teams users cannot search for Skype users using a Skype ID or phone number; they can only find contacts using an email address.

Microsoft previously scheduled interoperability with Skype to launch in January. The company later updated its roadmap to say it would release the feature by the end of March.

Microsoft declined to comment on what prompted the delay until June. However, the vendor has been under pressure in recent months to add video conferencing features to keep pace with Zoom.

Nearly 4,000 people have endorsed a request for the feature on the Microsoft user feedback website. At one point, the company said interoperability would launch in 2018, but later backtracked because of "a priority shift."

External collaboration is a weak spot for Teams relative to rival Slack. Teams supports one-on-one chats with external Teams users. But the platform lacks a feature akin to Slack's shared channels, which let multiple organizations link their Slack domains.

Teams users are also still waiting on several other highly demanded features, including improvements to the calendar and group video display. Other feature requests include the ability to archive channels and to use multiple Teams accounts simultaneously.

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