Upgrading from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams

As you might have heard, Microsoft will be retiring Skype for Business Online on July 31, 2021. When that happens, Skype for Business Online will cease to be accessible to Microsoft 365 users. Microsoft is encouraging its Microsoft 365 customers who use Skype for Business to upgrade to Microsoft Teams. In this article, I will show you how it’s done.

Before I begin

Before I get started, there are two important things that I need to tell you. First, even though the actual upgrade process is relatively easy, a substantial amount of planning is required before an upgrade to not lose functionality. This article is intended primarily to familiarize you with the upgrade process, and it does not go into the planning process.

The other thing that you need to know is that upgrading is a one-way operation. If you perform the upgrade and then later decide that you need to revert to a previous state, you will have no choice but to contact Microsoft support.

Two methods to upgrade from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams

The first step in the upgrade process is to ensure that your Microsoft 365 account is actually ready for a Teams upgrade. To do so, open the Teams admin center and then take a look at the Dashboard workspace. You should see a message indicating that your Teams upgrade status is available, as shown in the figure below. If the upgrade is not currently listed as available, you can always use the Refresh Status button to see if the status changes. Otherwise, you may have to wait for the upgrade to become available.

Skype Microsoft Teams
Assuming that the upgrade is available, you will have a choice to make. You can either upgrade your entire organization at once, or you can upgrade users in batches. The batch approach is best suited for pilot deployments or for organizations that have users who still heavily depend on Skype for Business. In this article, I will show you both upgrade methods.

Upgrading users in batches

Let’s begin by taking a look at how to upgrade users in batches. For this article, I will assume that you have already figured out which users you want to upgrade first. However, it is worth noting that this method limits you to upgrading 20 users at a time.

To get started, select the Users workspace within the Microsoft Teams admin center. Next, select the checkboxes for the users whose accounts you want to upgrade. Remember, you can select only 20 users. With the checkboxes selected, click the Edit settings icon, shown near the top of the image below.

When the Edit settings pane opens, scroll down to the bottom. There you will find a Teams upgrade section. This is where you perform the account upgrade. As you can see in the figure below, however, there is a warning message being displayed, and this warning indicates that settings have been set by Microsoft and can’t be changed. This happens if the Teams upgrade has already been completed.

When the selected users have been upgraded, you can move forward with upgrading other users as your needs dictate. Simply repeat the process until everyone’s account has been upgraded.

Upgrading everyone at once from Skype to Microsoft Teams

Now that I have shown you how to upgrade selected users to Microsoft Teams, let’s take a look at how to upgrade the entire organization all at once.

The first thing you should probably do when performing an organization-wide upgrade is to notify users of the impending upgrade. To do so, go to the Org-Wide Settings workspace within the Microsoft Teams admin center. From there, select the Teams Upgrade option, which you can see in the figure below. Now, set the Notify Skype for Business Users that an Upgrade to Teams is Available option to on.

Skype Microsoft Teams

When you are ready to perform the actual upgrade, set the coexistence mode to Teams only. It is worth noting that notifying the Skype for Business users and switching the coexistence modes must be performed as two separate operations. If you enable the option to notify your users and then set the coexistence mode to Teams only, the notifications will be disabled.

There are several different coexistence modes available, and you can see these coexistence modes in the figure below.

Skype Microsoft Teams
The first of these coexistence modes is Islands. This is the default coexistence mode. When this mode is enabled, users are free to use both Teams and Skype for Business.

The second available coexistence mode is Skype for Business only. As its name implies, this mode forces users to use Skype for Business for chats and calls.

The third coexistence mode is Skype for Business with Teams collaboration. In this mode, users will still receive chats and calls in Skype for Business and will continue using Skype for Business to schedule meetings. However, they will use Teams for group collaborations.

The fourth option that is available is Skype for Business with Teams collaboration and meetings. This mode is similar to the Skype for Business with Teams Collaboration mode in that users receive chats and calls in Skype for Business. However, Teams is used for both group collaboration and for scheduling meetings.

The fifth mode, as you have probably already guessed, is Teams Only. This mode makes it so that users use Teams exclusively.

Skype to Microsoft Teams: It’s easy, but plan ahead

As you can see, upgrading to Teams is relatively easy to do. However, it is important to plan for such an upgrade in advance to not disrupt users’ ability to communicate.

Featured images: Shutterstock / Wikimedia

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