Skype for Business: Overview
Skype for Business at Washington State University
Skype for Business (SfB) is a communication tool that allows for instant messaging, persistent chat, audio, video, and dial-in conferencing. Conferencing includes features like application sharing, desktop sharing, white boarding, polls, PowerPoint presentation, and file transfers from a variety of platforms. WSU has established a SfB service for university employees. There is no charge for using this service. Note: This service includes telephone dial-in conferencing, and is the replacement for our MeetingPlace service. The MeetingPlace service will be decommissioned in 2016.
SfB software and apps are available for Windows, Mac OS, Apple iOS devices, Windows Phone, and Android. Meetings can be easily scheduled via Outlook calendaring. Note that the exact layout and placement of icons and controls differ slightly between devices types and systems.
For the WSU SfB system, hosts and organizers must have an active WSU network ID and be part of the main WSU Exchange E-Mail system, but invitations can be sent to anyone, and attendees can participate from anywhere via SfB software, web application, or telephone.
Users are able to maintain a list of Contacts and Groups for meetings and instant messaging. Presence status and availability information can also be determined for Contacts and others who are part of the WSU system (see the link on our informational web page).
Meetings can be recorded by Presenters with the recording saved to their local computer for later playback. Recordings will capture audio, video, instant messaging (IM), screen (desktop) sharing, application sharing (such as PowerPoint slides, other applications), whiteboard activity, audience polling, and Q&A sessions.
Skype for Business allows up to 250 attendees per meeting.
Different Worlds: Skype versus Skype for Business:
While there are similar features and functions between the general internet-oriented Skype application and the SfB (formerly known as Lync) system, and both applications have a somewhat similar look and feel, they operate in different worlds. Generally, Skype users can communicate with other Skype users, and SfB users communicate with other SfB users. Currently, Skype users cannot call SfB users nor can SfB users call Skype users. That isn’t to say that non-WSU people cannot participate in SfB meetings hosted by WSU; they need either to obtain the SfB application, or use the SfB web app that allows them to join SfB meetings, or dial in by telephone (see pdf for non-users on our information web page).
Generally, the differences between the Skype and Skype for Business boil down to this:
- SfB can host a much larger number of meeting participants. It also can support very large broadcast events (although we may not be supporting Broadcast initially).
- Skype uses the host’s computer and network bandwidth to support multiple people in a call. SfB uses servers and the university’s high-speed network to support the larger number of participants, relieving the host’s computer from having to bear the burden of accepting and re-transmitting all traffic from all participants as is done with Skype.
- SfB Meetings can be scheduled using Outlook/Calendar with a control that adds the meeting information to the meeting invitation.
- SfB can integrate easily with Office 365 applications, and is also integrated with WSU’s Active Directory.
- The WSU SfB system supports telephone dial-in users, so they can participate in a conference by dialing in from on-campus or off.
Skype for Business Software
SfB software is free and is available for the following devices and operating system:
- Windows (Windows 7, 8, and 10)
- Mac OS (latest version currently in Preview (for Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan or later); can also use Mac 2011 Lync apps)
- Apple iPhone and iPad (iOS) iOS 8.0 or later
- Android (OS version 4.0 or later)
- Windows Phone (version 8.1 or later)
Note that the app software for Windows, Mac OS, and Apple iPhone/iPad allows for scheduling of SfB meetings using Outlook/Calendar. However, the Android app currently does not support scheduling of meetings (but Android apps can attend meetings). For WSU users, authentication for sign-in to SfB uses their WSU Network ID (NID) and password.
Skype for Business Web App (for non-WSU users)
Outside participants who are invited to meetings may not have the SfB app installed on their device. If their device has Internet Explorer, Edges Firefox, Chrome or Safari they can use the SfB web app. (The SfB web plugin is not supported on Windows RT, Linux and Chromebooks.) When they join a meeting by clicking on the Join Skype Meeting link in the invitation (or by using a direct URL link in an E-Mail like https://meet.wsu.edu/hostid/4QP2RZR9) they may see a web page pop up with link to Join Using SfB Web App instead. Clicking on that link they will see:
To join the meeting using the SfB Web App:
1. Download and install the SfB Web App plug-in (see ‘non-user’ instructions pdf on our information web page)
2. After installation, click on Join the meeting…
3. SfB Web App will open in a new window
(There is also an option to join using SfB software or Lync software, which will invoke the full app if it is installed.)
This Web App is a plug-in that allows users to participate in a meeting without having to install the full SfB App. The SfB Web App provides HD video conferencing, IM/Chat in meetings, high-fidelity desktop, application, and presentation viewing, desktop sharing, whiteboard, lobby, and presenter access controls. In addition, SfB Web App includes PC-based audio and video. However, it does not offer some other SfB features, such as presence or contact information.
Skype for Business System Requirements – Audio and Video
There are certain system requirements for using the various SfB app software, based on Operating System Version, RAM Memory, Disk Space, Network Connection Speeds. Beyond this, system should have some level of Audio support (speakers, microphone, headsets). A headset / microphone that is certified for use with Lync/Skype/SfB would be a good investment (good echo cancellation is a factor in making the purchase decision). A video camera is optional but is a good idea; we are seeing some value in video calls.
Keeping Skype for Business App Software Up-to-Date
Microsoft releases updated versions of the app software on a regular basis. Make it a habit to periodically check for and install new updates
Skype for Business Software Windows / Panels
While different SfB present slightly differently, for the most part you will be dealing with two types of windows or panels when you run the app software.
The first is the SfB main screen or panel. This is the control center for your SfB app access, and is what appears when you sign in. This can show your contacts, upcoming meetings, list of recent conversations, and other information not bound up with a particular active meeting or conversation.
The other is the conversation/meeting window, which shows the active meeting or conversation details. During a meeting you will be mostly focused on and interacting with the conversation screen.
SfB Control Window
File Menu Options
You can Sign Out, Close or Exit
You can change your Status
Generates Pop Up Window for Meeting Audio – once you select your Audio option the Conversation window will become active
Tools Menu Options
You can configure Audio, Video and other settings
If Options is selected, navigate through list of options on left pane
Show Menu to Right (Down arrow next to Options icon)
(Use to turn on or off the Menu Bar)
Skype for Business Conversation Window
When you are in a meeting, this window is used to control the in-meeting functionality
Within the Conversation/Meeting window, various controls can be used:
Upper Right Portion of Window
Invite More People to the meeting
Network Connection Speed/Quality and Time in Call
Upper Left Portion of Window
Open Participant List
Lower Left Portion of Window
IM (Instant Message /Chat)
Lower Middle Portion of Window
Hang Up (Exit Meeting) – does not END the meeting, just exits you from the meeting
Lower Right Portion of Window
Top Right of Window
Layout Selection and Full Screen View
Top Right of Full Screen View
Exit Full Screen View
Within Conversation Window
Pop Out the Video Gallery to separate window
Top Right of Pop-Out Gallery View
Pop In the Video Gallery
Scheduling a Meeting with Outlook
To schedule a meeting, you must have an active WSU Network ID and use the main WSU Exchange system. If you have the SfB application on your computer, you can use Outlook or Calendar (depending on system you use) to schedule a meeting. In Calendar view, click on either New Skype Meeting button from the top of your main Calendar screen, or from within the Meeting Request window click the Skype Meeting button to add the Skype meeting details to the invitations. These Invitation E-Mails will look like the following example – please note the embedded Conference ID that will be unique for each meeting.
Join Skype Meeting
This is an online meeting for SfB, the professional meetings and communications client formerly known as Lync.
Join by phone
509-335-2277 (Pullman) English (United States)
Find a local number
Conference ID: 79999 Note: this number will be unique for each meeting; enter as 79999#
Forgot your dial-in PIN? |Help
In some SfB Control Windows, there is also a Meet Now feature, which will immediately start a new meeting to which you can invite others. Once you start a meeting, you can to find out the Meeting Link URL and Conference ID that was assigned by clicking on the More Options button and selecting Meeting Entry Info.
When you schedule a meeting with Outlook, on the calendar invitation screen you can click on the Skype Meeting Options button to manage Permissions for things like: direct admittance to meeting (or wait in Meeting Lobby), who will be presenters, disabling IM/Chat during meeting, Mute All Attendees, Block Attendees video. This will set the initial options for the meeting start-up. During the meeting you can change these settings (see Managing Participant Actions below).
Attending a Meeting
Once you have received an invitation to a Meeting, you can join simply by clicking on the Join Skype Meeting link in the E-Mail or Calendar entry. Or you can use a direct URL link from an E-Mail like https://meet.wsu.edu/hostid/4QP2RZR9. You can also attend by telephone, dial the access number and enter the conference ID included in the invitation.
Meetings can be simple audio-only meetings, or richer, more in-depth meetings involving video, presentations, content sharing, etc.
For users with a SfB app installed, a conversation window will appear when you enter the meeting. For those users that don’t have a SfB app installed, the system may bring up a Web Browser window so that the user can run the SfB Web App.
Some meetings will initially admit attendees to a Meeting Lobby, where you will wait until the host/organizer/presenter admits attendees to the meeting.
Presenting in a Meeting
You can allow everyone to be presenters or you can specify who are presenters for a particular meeting. Presenters can share their:
- Entire desktop (with ability to select all monitors or a particular Monitor)
- A particular running application window
- A PowerPoint file
- A OneNote notebook
- Send attachments that participants can download.
- Open up a whiteboard
- Create a poll for attendees to answer a question and tabulate results
- Create a Q&A (chat-like) window that allows attendees to pose questions and have presenters answer for all attendees to see.
These features and controls are available using the Presentation icon
Also, under the Presentation icon, attendees will see if there are attachments to download, and presenters can manage Presentable Content as far as whether the content should be presented, permissions for who can download the contents, removing the content from the presentation, and whether the content should be viewed privately by the presenter (i.e. putting together a whiteboard before presenting it to the attendees).
Presenters can record meetings. The recording is saved to the presenter’s local hard drive for later playback. Recordings can capture audio, video, instant messaging (IM), screen (desktop) sharing, application sharing, PowerPoint slides, OneNote sharing, whiteboard activity, audience polling, and Q&A sessions.
Presenters can Start, Pause, Resume, and Stop recording by clicking on the More Options button and selecting the appropriate entry. When recording is turned on and off, an announcement will be made to participants advising that recording is in effect or has been turned off.
Recording can be started, paused, resumed, and stopped by presenters. When finished, the system will need time to render the recording for playback. Recordings of meetings can be managed using the SfB recording manager. The recordings are MP4 files that can be played back using Windows Media Player or other MP4 players.
Exiting a Meeting
There are multiple ways to exit a meeting:
- If you are using one of the various SfB apps, to exit a Meeting click on the Red Hang-Up Button (This does not end the meeting, you are just removed from it.)
- If you are using a Telephone, to exit a Meeting simply hang up.
Ending a Meeting – Don’t Just Exit
Hosts and organizers can exit a meeting without causing the meeting to end. To completely end a meeting, click on the More Options button and select End Meeting.
When you are done using Skype for Business
When you are finished using your SfB app, you can use three options to minimize it or stop it from continuing to run:
- Close the SfB window
- Sign out of your session
- Exit from the program
SfB running afterwards?
Can others see your status?