The Many Versions of Skype for Business
There are many versions of Skype for Business. Whenever I tell a person on the phone to look for Skype for Business download on the Web, it seems for some reason they seem to struggle to find what they are looking for. To avoid confusion, I figured I will write an article that includes some useful information about Skype for Business. If you are not sure which version to download or you may not have access to Office 365, you can download the free version of Skype for Business Basic.
What is Skype for Business Basic?
Microsoft Skype for Business Basic includes online meetings, instant messaging (IM), audio and video calls, availability (presence) information, and sharing capabilities. It’s similar to GoToMeeting and WebEx but is much more flexible in many ways. This is the stand-alone version of Skype for Business. You can download the 64-bit version of Skype for Business Basic from Microsoft. So far I haven’t seen a download for a 32-bit version.
The following system requirements apply to the Skype for Business Basic.
- Operating Systems: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7
- RAM: 2 GB
- Browser: Windows Internet Explorer (IE) 10/9/8/7 or Mozilla Firefox Web browser.
NOTE: At the time of writing, Google Chrome is not on the list of supported browsers.
Different Versions of Skype
There are a lot of ways to install Skype on your computer and that’s where it gets confusing because Microsoft doesn’t offer a single page where all different flavors of Skype can be downloaded. To make matters worse, the names of the products are often changed (e.g. SkyDrive -> OneDrive, SkyDrive Pro -> OneDrive for Business, Lync -> Skype, Lync -> Skype for Business). Each name change requires millions of businesses around the world to change their documentation, update Web sites, flyers, brochures, PowerPoint slide decks, etc. In addition, there are several versions of Skype for Business. Here are the ones that I am aware of.
- Skype for Business Basic is the stand-alone version of Skype.
- Skype for Business also comes with Microsoft Office.
- Skype for Business is also included with some Office 365 subscriptions.
- A consumer version of Skype, which is simply called Skype. Sometimes Microsoft refers to it as the “non-business” version. Other names that you may read include “Skype for consumers” and “Skype for home users.”
So you can see when you tell someone to install Skype you have to be specific as to which version. At the end of this article you will find instructions on how to install the various versions of Skype for Business.
NOTE: If you install Microsoft Office, you will normally be installing the 32-bit version and the Skype for Business included with Office will be 32-bit.
Best Practice: Always install 32-bit version of Office and do not install products from two different versions of Office, such as Office 2013 and Office 2016, on one computer. Microsoft encourages you to use 32-bit Office on all 32-bit and 64-bit computers because there are extremely rare cases where you will actually need a 64-bit version of Office.
The Difference Between Skype and Skype for Business Icons
The consumer version of Microsoft Skype has a different icon than Skype for Business. The consumer version has a white S on a blue background, while the business version has a blue S on a white background, as shown below. This makes it easier to identify them if you use both of them, one for business and one for personal use.
The Difference Between Skype for Business Basic 20xx and Skype for Business 20xx in Office 365
Now, here’s another confusing thing about Skype for Business in Office 365. If you click on the Settings wheel in the upper right hand corner in Office 365, you will see a section called Your app settings. Click the Office 365 hyperlink to go to the Settings page. This is where a user can download and install client software by clicking on the Software hyperlink. You will see two versions listed in Office 365. In Office 365 E1 subscription, you will see Skype for Business Basic 2015 and Skype for Business 2015. There is no explanation as to why there are two clients listed and which one you should select. You just have to guess.
My understanding is that the “Basic” version includes fewer features (and hence it’s called Basic). The other version is not called Basic and is really the “Full” version, but is not called Full version. It’s just called Skype for Business 2015 or Skype for Business 2016. If you are confused, you are not alone. There are so many versions of Skype out there. There is a consumer version, a business version, a standard version, an enterprise version, a basic version, a full version, and within each version, let’s say Skype for Business, there are more versions, such as a Standard version and an Enterprise version. And then there is a Skype for Business for each year, e.g., Skype for Business 2015, Skype for Business 2016, etc. In addition to all the versions I’ve listed above, there are the Office 365 versions. I am not even going to go there because they are in a world of their own. They are the “online” versions of Skype and supposedly map to some versions of Office, but it’s not always clear as to which version.
The good news is that Microsoft has a TechNet article that offers client comparison tables for Skype for Business. These tables compare the various features of all Skype for Business clients going back to the old Lync clients. Lync is the former name of Skype. This article was last updated on January 13, 2017, only a couple of weeks before I last updated this article on January 30, 2017. Check it out: Client comparison tables for Skype for Business Server 2015.
You may find the following links from Microsoft helpful. They include the Quick Start Guides and the instructions for installing Skype for Business.
- Skype for Business Quick Start Guides (Download)
- Instructions for Office 365 for business customers
- Instructions for Skype for Business Online Plan customers
- Instructions for Mac customers
- Instructions for Office 365 ProPlus customers
- Instructions for installing Skype for Business on your phones and tablets
- How to uninstall Skype for Business
- Skype for Home Users (Consumer version of Skype)
- Most client comparison tables for Skype for Business
- Client comparison tables for Skype for Business Server 2015
Last Updated: January 30, 2017
Included the section The Difference Between Skype for Business Basic 20xx and Skype for Business 20xx in Office 365.
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