If you’ve read almost anything about Skype for Business, you’ve run into a moment of confusion.
You read a certain paragraph, and suddenly think, “Wait, was he referring to Skype for Business, or regular Skype?”
Despite the “for Business,” many blog posts, news articles & so on are referring to the new Skype for Business as just “Skype”. This breeds an immediate and (in my mind) serious confusion.
That’s why I’m using today’s post to call for a new naming convention for consumer-grade Skype.
From now on, let’s differentiate between the two products like this.
1. Skype (Consumer Version) is henceforth referred to as “SkypeC“.
Simple and clear. SkypeC = “Skype Consumer”. That’s too many syllables for a quick reference though, so abbreviating it down to “SkypeC” keeps it fast.
Amazingly, this does already exist as a Twitter hashtag – #SkypeC. However, it hasn’t been in regular use for a couple years now. It’s time to resume use. I’ll do so when posting to Twitter from now on. You are welcome to do the same, of course!
2. Skype for Business, if abbreviated, is referred to as “Skype4B“.
This is already used as a Twitter hashtag: Hashtag #Skype4B
I’ve used the abbreviation myself for weeks now. You can even refer to this blog as “The Skype4B Insider”.
Why would we need this though? Why not just stick with “Skype”? As I’ll clarify below, confusion is brewing…there’s a need for clarity.
The Need for Better Naming Convention
Skype. Skype for Business. Similar names, similar features, similar interfaces.
While one is intended for consumer & one for business, that line has blurred for years. How many of us used consumer-grade Skype in the office at one point or another? Thousands have over the past 5 years. I sure did.
Now Skype for Business presents a clearly business-focused product. Will everyone switch? No. So we’ll still have both consumer Skype (SkypeC) and Skype for Business in use around offices. Simultaneously.
This presents not only an adoption roadblock, but a more disruptive concern.
The Concern: Version Confusion
Let’s say you’re in the office one day, and a colleague requests a Skype call. You have Skype for Business, but they don’t. Maybe that department is slow on upgrades, or this person is just comfortable with SkypeC.
Now, these two should communicate just fine, if set up properly. IMs, calls, and even video should work.
But they don’t use the same codecs. They have different security requirements. They have different feature sets. If a Skype for Business user tries to add a whiteboard or invite more people into an Online Meeting, well, you’re in trouble.
The GetApp Lab Blog has a good write-up on differences between Skype and Skype for Business: Skype vs Skype for Business: What’s the Difference? – GetApp Lab
Examples of SkypeC/Skype4B Confusion
While the SkypeC/Skype for Business confusion has gone on for most of 2015, what really spurred me on this idea was the recent announcement of Office 2016.
One of Office 2016’s new features is having Skype for Business bundled in. All the flagship apps – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – will access Skype for Business natively. Reading articles about this though, you’d almost swear they don’t mean Skype for Business. They mean consumer-grade Skype.
Why? Because they don’t clarify the version.
Here’s two examples of said confusion:
Five reasons Microsoft Office 2016 is better than Google Docs, and three reasons it isn’t – CNET
“Microsoft also added integrations with its search engine Bing and messaging and video-calling app Skype.”
At a glance you’d think this means consumer-grade Skype, not Skype for Business. But it doesn’t.
Microsoft Office 2016 Adds Built-In Skype, Collaboration Tools – BloombergBusiness
“Microsoft Corp.’s new Office software will incorporate Internet-connected features such as Skype and the Cortana digital assistant in both its cloud and packaged versions…”
Again, just labeling it as ‘Skype’ and not clarifying.
I’m not criticizing the authors of these pieces. They’re doing what they need to, with the tools they have. I’m only referencing the articles as evidence of the need for clarity.
What Do You Think? Start Calling Consumer Skype “SkypeC”?
I didn’t create the #Skype4B Twitter hashtag. It came into being by consensus as an easy-to-understand abbreviation. That’s why I like using it.
I think “SkypeC” works as another easy-to-understand abbreviation. With 1 letter we instantly know which version we’re talking about. Both in the written word and when speaking.
Maybe in the future, SkypeC and Skype4B will merge to a greater degree. Maybe we won’t need to differentiate between versions then. For now though, I think differentiating adds needed clarity.
Do you think SkypeC is useful? Is it necessary or unnecessary? Please comment or email your thoughts. I really want to hear some feedback on this one!