Microsoft have recently announced that after July 1st 2019, organisations will no longer be able to purchase Skype for Business Online Plan 2 as a standalone license and customers actively using it will not be able to renew it once their renewal time occurs. Customers who have access to Skype for Business Plan 2 on one of the Office 365 suites (Office 365 E3 for example) will not be affected by this change as its still included.
Oh Sh*t – what are my options?
As I said above, those who have access to Skype for Business Plan 2 on one of the Microsoft 365 or Office 365 suites will not be affected by this change.
Advice from Microsoft is that organisations that are currently using Skype for Business Online Plan 2 standalone should consider moving these users to Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscription which will provide access to Skype for Business Online Plan 2, but also of course Microsoft Teams, their primary (and now preferred) client for messaging, meeting and calls in Office 365.
But I still need Skype for Business Online!
Any organisation that wants/needs to continue using Skype for Business Plan 2, (i.e., they are not using Teams) can do so by moving to one the following subscriptions:
- Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 Business Premium
- Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3 and E5
- Microsoft 365 Enterprise E1, E3, E5
Since Microsoft Teams is included in these subscriptions, organisations using Skype for Business Online standalone today will have the ability to also use Microsoft Teams with no additonal license.
What about my Meeting Rooms?
Many organisation have been using Skype for Business Online Plan 2 (along with other standalone licenses such as Exchange Online) to licence their room systems (in order to add the Microsoft Phone System License) to which they can attach Conference and Calling Plans), rather than buying a the “more expensive” Office 365 E3 or E5 licence which includes features not needed by a room system.
Microsoft now have a specific Microsoft Meeting Room licence for room systems which is available for around £11.50 per room per month.
What about common area phones?
Yep – the Common Area Phone License will give you the Skype for Business/Teams capabilities and Phone System licenses, so this is for a basic phone like a Polycom VVX in a common area (like a conference room). This is available for around £6.00 per phone per month.
Worth nothing that with the Meeting Room license however you do you get more stuff: Teams, Skype for Business, Phone System, Audio Conferencing and Intune (so you can manage your rooms systems). You also get the ability to set-up a room mailbox without the need to buy an Exchange License where as you of course dont need this for just a common area phone.
Longer term, we expect Microsoft to completely retire Skype for Business Online as it becomes and is replaced by Microsoft Teams.