Office 365
Skype for Business

Applies to: Everyone
Skype Logo

Skype for Business is a lot like the Skype you've probably used for personal communication: it's one-to-one instant messaging, group chat, and voice or video calls. Skype for Business extends these basic features by including things like C of I user lookup and presence. Skype for Business also allows you to communicate with regular Skype users so you'll no longer have to have a separate Skype account to chat with friends or conduct interviews.

Skype for Business is integrated into Office 365 and Outlook. You can chat directly from the web, a computer you regularly use, or an app on your device. In Outlook (on the web or your desktop) you can see if the user you're emailing is available, away, or in a meeting. Once you know you might decide to send them a Skype message instead of a full email. Or, from within Skype you might see that someone is busy and decide an email is better than an instant message.

System Requirements

Skype for Business requires that you have Office 2016, use the web client through Outlook on the Web, or have the mobile app. All campus computers will receive Office 2016 this summer but you can request an early upgrade by submitting an IT work order. If you've installed Office on your personal device then you should already have Office 2016. Not sure? Check to see what version is reported on the splash screen when you open an Office program like Word or Excel.

If you plan to make audio calls you'll need some sort of speakers and microphone. If you plan to make video calls you'll also need a webcam. All of this is built-on on College-issued laptops and can be added to select desktops.

For the highest quality calls from a computer we recommend using a headset, like the Logitech H390. At a minimum you should use a pair of headphones or earbuds. This eliminates Skype's echo-cancellation feature and significantly improves a call's audio quality.

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Finding Users

From the Skype for Business window you can use the "Find someone" field ("Search in the company directory" in the mobile app) to search for any Skype-enabled user at the College. We recommend searching by name for speed and you'll see the list automatically filter as you type. To add someone as a Favorite contact you can search for their name, right-click on the result, and choose "Add to Favorites." If your contact is outside the organization you can search by email address or Skype username. Make sure to choose the "Skype Directory" tab after searching.

User Presence

Skype and Outlook will show whether a user is available, away, busy, or offline, a feature called "presence." Skype displays this with a small colored icon in the lower-right of the user's picture. Outlook displays it with a colored bar to the left of the user's picture. Detailed information is available next to the Skype icon or by hovering over the user's name in Outlook.

Possible statues include:

  • Available - Green Check - The user is signed in and actively using their computer or is probably nearby.
  • Away - Yellow Clock - The user has been idle for a while so they're probably not around.
  • Busy - Red Circle - The user has an appointment scheduled on their Outlook calendar and they most likely can't be interrupted.
  • Offline - Empty Circle - The user is signed out or appearing offline. Messaging is unavailable.

Starting a Chat

You'll need to either search for a user or have them in your favorites list. Once that's done just double-click on them to start a conversation. If you're in Outlook hover over their name and click the IM icon.

Making an Audio or Video Call

From the Skype window you can click a user's picture and open a menu with an IM, phone, and camera icon. This same menu appears if you hover over them in Outlook. From the menu choose the phone for a voice call and the camera for a video call. During a call you can switch formats by clicking the appropriate icon.

Hosting an Online Meeting

Skype for Business allows anyone to host an online meeting with voice, video, and presentation sharing. The easiest way to create a meeting is to use an Outlook calendar meeting invitation. You can start a new meeting invite in Outlook or open an existing meeting appointment. Once in the edit screen just click the Skype Meeting button on the toolbar. A link will be inserted directly into the message body. Send the invite or save your changes and attendees will receive the link. When it's time for the meeting all they have to do is click to join.

IMPORTANT: Skype meetings can only be joined online. At this time we don't have a bridge to connect users joining via telephone. Users do not have to use Skype but they must at least have a compatible web browser. We do have a telephone conferencing system available through ShoreTel. Please contact us if you'd like to learn more about combined telephone-web conference options.

Connecting with Skype Users

We've enabled Skype for Business to connect to regular Skype. This means that anyone with a personal Skype account can contact and communicate with you through Skype for Business. It's great for new students, guest lecturers, and interviews. Simply give your C of I email address to the other person and have them add you as a contact, or get their Skype name and add them instead. They'll use the same Skype client they already know.

Got a question? Let us know so that we can fill out this section! Visit the Get Help menu and choose Contact Us.

Need a fast way to remember the common features of Skype for Business? Get the Quick Start Guides.

There are even more basics to know, so go and Discover Skype for Business.