Skype for Business Online features

If you are an admin, you can find detailed instructions for setting up Skype for Business Online features in Set up Skype for Business Online.

Clients for Skype for Business Online


The clients that are supported in Skype for Business Online are licensed separately.

To download the client for your mobile device, PC, or Mac, go to Download Skype for Business across all your devices.

Skype for Business provides support for the conference room devices listed here. For additional information, work with your account team or call Microsoft support. To get a local number, you can choose your locale from the drop-down list.

Instant messaging, presence, and contacts

Using Skype for Business, users can:

  • Display their presence status—for example, Available, Away, Do Not Disturb, or Offline—to let others know their availability. Skype for Business presence information is presented throughout the suite.

  • Send and receive text messages in real time over an Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as the internet, or an organization's corporate network. Instant messaging is available for both Skype-to-Skype and multiparty communication. IM text is encrypted for enhanced security.

  • Configure how their own Skype for Business contact card appears to other people.

You can read more about instant messaging, presence, and contacts in Send an IM in Skype for Business.

Skype-to-Skype audio, video, and media

Skype for Business Online users can make one-to-one computer-based audio and video calls to other Skype for Business users using a PC and a web camera. A Skype for Business Online user can initiate Skype-to-Skype audio and video calls with another user in the same Skype for Business Online organization (within or outside the corporate firewall), or with another Skype for Business user in a Skype for Business federated domain if the two Skype for Business domains are correctly configured, supported, and permitted for federation.

See Set audio device options in Skype for Business to find out how to set audio device options in Skype for Business.

Federation and public IM connectivity

Skype for Business external connectivity (federation) lets Skype for Business users connect with users in other organizations that use Skype for Business, as well as those that host their own Skype for Business Server on premises. Federated contacts can see presence, communicate by using IM, and make Skype-to-Skype audio and video calls. All federated communications are encrypted between the IM systems using access proxy servers. Microsoft does not control encryption after messages are passed to the federated partner's network (if the partner is federated with an on-premises Skype for Business Server or third-party network).

Skype for Business external connectivity requires the consent and correct configuration of both parties of the federation relationship. After the federation is set up by the administrators of both sides, users in each organization can see presence and communicate with users in the other organization. Federation is only supported between other Skype for Business environments, with appropriately configured Access Proxy or Edge servers. To learn more about Edge server configuration, see Components required for external user access in Lync Server 2013.

Security and archiving

Microsoft traffic (both signal and media traffic) is encrypted using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. Anyone who intercepts a communication sees only encrypted text. For example, if a user accesses Skype for Business Online IM, calls, and presentations while using a public Wi-Fi network, such as at an airport, the user's communications are encrypted to potential interception by network "sniffers."

Skype for Business provides archiving of peer-to-peer instant messages, multiparty instant messages, and content upload activities in meetings. The archiving capability requires Exchange and is controlled by the user's Exchange mailbox In-Place Hold attribute, which archives both email and Skype for Business contents.

All archiving in Skype for Business is considered "user-level archiving" because you enable or disable it for one or more specific users or groups of users by creating, configuring, and applying a user-level archiving policy for those users. There is no direct control of archiving settings from within the Skype for Business admin center.

Exchange and SharePoint interoperability

Skype for Business Online includes high definition pictures, presence status updates based on Exchange calendar information, unified contact store, archiving, out-of-office messages in Skype for Business, and presence status and click-to-communicate in Outlook. This interoperability requires running the Skype for Business client on the user's desktop.

In certain subscription plans, Skype for Business can integrate with Exchange Online Unified Messaging (UM) to:

  • Combine voice messaging and email messaging into a single messaging infrastructure that is available from the Skype for Business client. Exchange UM and Skype for Business work together to provide call answering, Outlook Voice Access, and auto attendant services.

  • Enable Outlook on the web to provide IM, presence, status updates based on Exchange calendar information, and Skype for Business Meeting scheduling.

Skype for Business interoperates with on-premises Microsoft SharePoint Server for presence and click-to-communicate in SharePoint sites. This interoperability requires running the Skype for Business client on the user's desktop.

Skype for Business Online administration and management

Although Microsoft directly controls all Skype for Business Online data centers and is responsible for overall system performance, it can control only a portion of the elements that combine to provide the total experience for users. Organizations themselves are responsible for the network connections to the data centers, the customer's wide area network (WAN), and the customer's local area networks (LANs). Additionally, they manage user devices and their configuration.  They are also responsible for maintaining the required licensing per user for any desired feature, including, but not limited to, the ability to manage these features, for as long as the user needs access to the feature.

Skype for Business Online therefore provides customer administrators with the following tools to manage several messaging-related tasks:

  • Microsoft Office 365 portal

  • Microsoft 365 admin center

  • Skype for Business admin center

  • Windows PowerShell

To see the latest Skype for Business Online Admin help topics and how-to articles, see Skype for Business Online - Admin Help.

Audio Conferencing in Office 365

Audio Conferencing is any conference in which at least one participant dials in to the audio portion by using a phone. The ability to use a phone to access a meeting is useful for individuals who are on the road or otherwise can't attend a meeting using a mobile device or PC. Using a phone also can be a better option in other scenarios, such as when internet connectivity is limited or when a meeting is audio only.

With Audio Conferencing, users in your organization can host or create meetings that contain dial-in phone numbers. Callers can then use those phone numbers to call into a meeting using their phones (users who are dialing into a meeting will only get audio, not instant messages, shared desktops, or files being shared in the meeting). You only need to set up dial-in conferencing for users who plan to schedule or lead meetings. Unless the organizer has locked the meeting, anyone who has the dial-in number and conference ID can join the meeting. For details, see Getting started with Audio Conferencing and Dial-in numbers available for Audio Conferencing.

You can enable dial-in conferencing either by using Microsoft as your dial-in conferencing provider, or by using a third-party dial-in conferencing provider (also called an audio conferencing provider, or ACP).

Audio Conferencing is not available in all countries or regions. For a list of the countries or regions in which you can purchase Audio Conferencing, see Where can you get Audio Conferencing?.

Calling Plans

Skype for Business includes calling capabilities found on the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Calling Plans are an add-on to the Phone System that allow you to search for, acquire, and assign phone numbers to users in your organization so that they can make calls to and receive calls from people inside and outside of the organization, directly from Office 365. Users who are assigned phone numbers can make voice calls across all Skype for Business devices, including VoIP phones, PCs, and mobile devices. They also can control their calls through mute/unmute, hold/resume, call transfers, and call forwarding features, and if necessary, make emergency calls.

For information about available Calling Plans, go to Calling Plans for Office 365. For more information and to set up a Calling Plan, see Which Calling Plan is right for you?

Phone System

The Phone System lets you use Skype for Business and either your organization's existing phone lines or the Phone System for inbound and outbound calls. With the Phone System in Office 365, your users can use Skype for Business to complete basic tasks such as placing, receiving, transferring, and muting or unmuting calls, from nearly anywhere that has internet access.

The Phone System allows you to replace your existing PBX system with a set of features that are directly delivered from Microsoft and tightly integrated into Microsoft's cloud productivity experience. You can choose a completely in-the-cloud experience, or a hybrid deployment that takes advantage of the Phone System while keeping some functionality on your premises.