Skype for Business End of Life Is Here: Here’s What Happens Next

Sreeraj Vasukuttan

Skype for Business Online goes end of life on July 31, 2021. In our last blog about Skype end of life, we talked extensively about the need for moving users to Teams sooner rather than later. However, if you haven’t moved your users yet, it’s not the end of the world. We can help you plan your last-minute move. And if you have Skype for Business Server—which will not retire on July 31, 2021—we will discuss the implication of the Skype for Business Online retirement on your hybrid environment. We’ll also show you the benefits of moving your Skype for Business Server users to Teams sooner. 

What Will Happen On July 31, 2021, and the Day After?

Skype Business Online (SfB Online) will be fully functional until July 31, 2021. After that, your SfB Online environment will be in a state of transition, waiting for Microsoft’s Assisted Upgrade program to move users to Teams.

Remember, the day after Skype for Business Online goes end of life, the services that integrate with it also will go end of support. This includes: third-party audio conferencing providers (ACP), Skype for Business Online Cloud Connector Edition(CCE), hybrid voice configurations, and Skype Meeting Broadcast. 

The assisted upgrade provided by Microsoft will begin in August 2021. According to Microsoft, “the duration of each customer’s upgrade will vary by volume of users and characteristics of their deployment, but generally users within a tenant will be upgraded within 24 hours from the start of the upgrade. During this time, users will still be able to access Skype for Business Online. Once the upgrade has completed and users log out of Skype for Business Online, they will only be able to use Teams to initiate and receive messages and calls as well as to schedule and host meetings.”

You will receive Assisted Update notifications from Microsoft in Teams admin center and Microsoft 365 Message Center as early as 90 days prior to the end-of-life day. 

As Microsoft MVP Tom Arbuthnot has reported on his blog, you can now also request a service extension for your expiring SfB Online account beyond July 31, 2021 through Teams Admin Center. The requests are subject to Microsoft’s approval though. In his blog he mentions that the third-party Audio Conferencing and the other services (mentioned above) will not get an extension. 

The Implications of Skype for Business Server Not Going End of Life

Microsoft allows you to run Skype for Business Server and Teams side-by-side. But keep in mind, if you have a hybrid setup of Skype for Business Server and Skype for Business Online with users homed in Skype for Business Online, you must transfer them to Teams Only mode before July 31, 2021. 

Skype for Business Server is not retiring on July 31, 2021. Skype for Business 2015 mainstream end date was October 13, 2020. However, the extended support is available until October 14, 2025. This means you will have to pay for technical support, and Microsoft will provide free security updates—but not quality updates—until October 14, 2025. The latest on-prem version of Skype for Business Server, Skype for Business Server 2019, is still going on mainstream support. The extended support of SfB Server 2019 will also end on October 14, 2025.

From a technical point of view, you need to manage the Skype for Business Infrastructure and you will pay extra if you decide to be on either SfB Server 2015 or 2019. Maybe you still want to keep Sfb Server for specific requirements. If so, consider a hybrid approach with Skype for Business Server and Teams to allow interoperability. 

Even with interoperability, there could be communication breakdowns between your Skype and Teams users. With a Teams-only mode, your Teams users can receive calls, chats, or attend a meeting originated in the on-prem Skype. But the Teams users are not allowed to do those activities in Skype. The other coexistence modes—Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration and Meetings—do not give your users the full experience of Teams. After all, your users are counting on the modern meeting calling and collaboration experience in Teams. 

We Are Here for You If You Need More Help

Please reach out to us if you need more help. Our Teams Rapid Readiness team can help you quickly assess your Skype for Business Server environment, determine your overall readiness, provide a roadmap, business and technical requirements, meeting and calling device strategies, deployment best practices, and design considerations. Furthermore, our Professional Services team can migrate users, transfer you from Enterprise Voice to Teams Phone System, or direct routing, and bring Skype for Business Server calling/meeting devices to Teams.

Sreeraj Vasukuttan is a Technical Marketing Manager at Connection with a passion for technology and marketing. He enjoys writing about cloud, security, and end-user compute. In his free time, he loves watching films, cooking, and traveling with his family.