Microsoft's announcement of Teams for consumers due later this year has some people wondering about the future of Skype as a standalone app. As it is, the calling and video feature for Microsoft Teams is effectively Skype, making the two apps and services perhaps slightly redundant.
The good news is Microsoft has told us that the standalone apps for Skype will continue. The report makes sense, as those that do use Skype (including the recently announced 40 million daily active users) may not need all that Microsoft Teams functionality.
Microsoft Teams for consumers is the same Teams app those in enterprise and schools use today. The difference will be the ability to switch to a more consumer-friendly set of features within the app. Those who use Teams professionally can switch to a "family" version with a click. Those who never use Teams for business can use Teams for consumers through Microsoft 365 with all the new features.
Microsoft Teams, however, is a superset of features compared to Skype. Group chats, calendar, direct tie-ins to OneDrive, SharePoint, Office, and third-party services make Microsoft Teams ideal for companies or families who want an all-in-one communication repository.
Although Skype is being challenged recently by companies like Zoom, WhatsApp calling, and Google Hangouts, its popularity is still high. Skype is the de facto video calling app for TV and media, as anyone who has recently watched the news may have noticed.
Because of those reasons, it makes sense for the Skype standalone apps to continue to exist (even if recent betas suggest Microsoft is still not done tinkering with the app platform, unfortunately).
At least for now, Skype's increasing importance and legacy will keep it around for the foreseeable future. Microsoft Teams for consumers, however, may become a more common tool for groups, schools, families, and businesses going forward. At the least, it's safe to say that Microsoft sees Teams as the future and its recent surge only confirms that.
For more information about the consumer Microsoft 365 program you can read our coverage here.
Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.
Someone needs to get Jason Ward spun up on this! It's like once he got invited to the Surface Neo/Duo event, he's all but disappeared. I'm a little disappointed that today's announcement is so forward looking and doesn't have stuff available "starting today"... This article kind of gives the impression that MSFT doesn't really have a roadmap for moving everyone over to Teams, which I think is wise. But, it would be nice to see some interoperability between Teams and Skype (ability to call/message across both systems). Also, I'm hoping that inter-system messaging/communication with Slack makes it to this new flavor of Teams as well.
I think a lot of the Office stuff is here today/rolling out, but yeah, Teams for consumers is still "later this year", which is unfortunate. Would have been nice if they had it ready today.
That being said, Microsoft didn't plan to have COVID-19 affecting their roadmap so they just have to stick to Q3 2020 with the release (around the same time as Surface Neo devices).
Hey Daniel. Do you think Teams, Skype or SMS organizer will be the default messaging app for the surface duo?
No, everything we hear is Google Messages, but that could change between now and release.
I get it, but an odd choice given it integrates with Google Duo for video calls... hmm keep us updated?
I always use skype, the calls quality are awesome and with the office 365 (now microsoft 365) subscription you recive a 50 minutes for a phones calls. Right Now i can't see Microsoft Teams like a home alternative because we have hards rivals like whatsapp or fb messenger.
Microsoft Teams for consumers is basically the People Hub as found on Windows Phone 7 and WP8 devices
In my hands Teams is much better on less than optimal networks and has far better Office integration. I think it is a mistake to delay the consumer version and to keep Skype. Both moves delay the move to a far better application.
Makes sense to keep both, but I do worry about that they call the foreseeable future.
I use Skype now and again, even if the software is rubbish these days, but it still works and I know people who still use it, teams will offer far more than we would ever use, so no point., also Skype works with Alexa, which is very useful.
One thing we have to keep in mind, is MSFT Teams woks best in a Microsoft centric ecosystem. On the enterprise level most companies are still heavily immersed in the Windows/Office environment. The issue is when you transition to the consumer, that changes. There are areas in the world where you cannot use FaceTime, so for iPhone users, Skye was the easy alternative. If MSFT were to end Skype as it's own application I think you run the risk of losing those who while utilizing other productivity applications, still will use Skype simply out of familiarity.
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