Skype for Business is (finally) coming to Mac.
This week, Microsoft updated its timeline for the new Skype for Business Mac client. It has 3 previews coming up, with an RTM date in Q3. You’ll find the details at ZDNet: Microsoft closing in on Skype for Business for Mac public preview 1 – ZDNet.com
And on the Office.com Blog’s April 2016 update: New to Office 365 in April—Skype for Business Mac Preview, bringing collaboration to the forefront in Office and more – Office Blogs
Looks like they’re planning to build the Mac client out in stages.
Stage 1: Meetings. Starting with Meetings means Microsoft is tackling the service with the biggest bandwidth requirement first. Smart. Meetings have the most moving parts, which means the most bugs to hammer out.
Stage 2: Messaging, Contact Lists. 4-6 weeks after Preview 1. Messaging is relatively simple by comparison to Meetings. But it (and Contact Lists) are crucial components to iron out.
Stage 3: Voice. 8-12 weeks after Preview 1. The Mac users I know pride their machines on simplicity (and not without merit). For this client to work on Mac, voice MUST be easy to use. Otherwise the whole client is handicapped.
I borrowed this image from the Office Blog to point something out. If this is what we expect for Preview 1, then I note a couple of differences between Skype Meetings on Mac and on PC.
- No toolbar with Present options along the bottom
- Mac uses the Picture-in-Picture viewing mode
- Borderless Meeting display
Nice clean start. Which, according to Mary Jo at ZDNet, is the whole point. “Microsoft isn’t simply retrofitting the Lync for Mac product base, officials said. Instead the team has built the Skype for Business for Mac client from the ground up, they said.”
But Wait! The Preview has Arrived!
The ZDNet article updated only hours after publication. Microsoft has begun the preview!
Naturally I raced over to the preview site: https://www.skypepreview.com
I signing up for the following:
- iOS Mobile
- Skype 4 Business Mac Client Meetings Experience (a Mac meetings-only client)
(I wanted to sign up for the “New firmware for Polycom VVX Phones” too, but our new phones haven’t arrived yet…)
Hope to hear back very soon.
Why am I talking about this now? Because I’ve decided to conduct a little blog experiment.
When I’m accepted, I intend to document all my Mac testing in blog posts. Devices in use are my iPhone 6, one MacBooks, and one desktop Mac. I may even try Skype for Business out my personal iPad (an iPad 2 – older, but good for perspective).
Initial criteria are as follows.
- Meeting Functions (scheduling, voice, meet now, content sharing)
- Meeting Quality (is the video smooth, good voice quality, app responsiveness on each device)
As the next 2 previews come out, I plan to document the changes and how my devices react to them.
Great fodder for the blog, right? But I’d like to go even further. I want to hear from you!
Join Me in Testing – Preview Skype for Business on your Mac and Share Your Findings
If you sign up for any of the following at https://www.skypepreview.com:
- Cloud PBX
- PSTN Calling – Geo. Expansion
- Cloud Video Interoperability Service
- Skype Meeting Broadcast Enhancements
- Android Mobile
Please contact me. I’d like to interview you as the testing progresses. I can even help you out with your testing.
The point? Document everything here on the blog. Multiple user experiences of Skype for Business on Mac. Valuable information for potential Mac customers, and for Microsoft’s testing team.
My standard guest policy applies: First name only. Business name only published with your express permission. No personal and/or proprietary information is ever shared on this blog, or with any other party. I don’t even add you the Skype4B Insider mailing list (unless you ask me to!).
Join us back here next week! What will we have – another Skype4B for Mac update? A good how-to post? You never know until you click.