Microsoft Releases Skype for Business Mac Client

The long wait is over. Mac users finally have a Skype for Business (formerly Lync) experience that's comparable to the one provided by the Windows client.

Microsoft Skype for Business, Macs

Businesses clinging to Lync for Mac 2011 can finally start letting go.

Today, Microsoft released the official Skype for Business Mac client, allowing customers to fully transition their users to the new software. Windows users got a native client last year during Office 2016 launch. This year, the company released preview versions for the Mac, but Microsoft recommended that users hang on to their copies of Lync for Mac 2011 if they intended to make full use of the enterprise communications platform's voice calling and messaging capabilities.

"The Mac client offers edge-to-edge video and full immersive content sharing and viewing," wrote Microsoft staffers Paul Cannon and Praveen Maloo in a blog post. "The result is a great first class experience for Mac users."

On the mobile front, both the Android and iOS apps gain the ability to conduct PowerPoint presentations during Skype meetings directly within the app. Users can simply select a PowerPoint file from a cloud location (and/or onboard storage on Android) and use swipe gestures to advance through the deck. Presentations shared in this manner also appear as PowerPoint files in a meeting content bin.

Skype for Business on Android and iOS also now supports Video-based Screen Sharing (VbSS) technology, a less resource-intensive method of streaming video content. "The initial setup is much faster, the experience more reliable, while also consuming network bandwidth efficiently. It provides a seamless viewing experience, especially if you are sharing animated content such as CAD models," added Cannon and Maloo.

In a preview of what's to come, the pair also said that Microsoft is working on CallKit integration for Skype for Business on iOS. Already enabled in the consumer Skype app, CallKit support allows Skype calls to show up like regular calls on the iPhone. CallKit is one of several new updates released by Apple for iOS 10, just ahead of the iPhone 7's launch last month.

Microsoft also previewed some upcoming changes to the consumer Skype mobile apps for iOS and Android.

For instance, the Call Phones tab is being simply relabeled Calls. From there, users get one-tap access to all Skype calling types (voice, video and traditional landline and cellular phones). Group calls will now continue uninterrupted when the person who starts the call leaves, allowing discussions to continue more smoothly as participants drop in and out of calls.

Noticing a decline in the use of traditional voicemail, Microsoft is making a push toward video voicemails. Users can still access their traditional voicemail inboxes, but some features are being discontinued.

"If you love using Skype's traditional voicemail delivery, or simply can’t live without it, fear not. We'll continue to support the ability to receive voicemail (with settings controllable in the Skype account portal), however custom voicemail greetings, email notifications and SMS transcription will no longer be available," stated the Skype team in an Oct. 25 blog post.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...