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Microsoft Skype For Business & Cloud PBX

For years, Microsoft has fought to find a role within the office telephony realm. Currently, the main contenders in office telephony are Cisco, Avaya, NEC, Mitel, and ShoreTel, with Ring Central, 3CX, Vonage, Ooma, and Grasshopper leading the online-only alternatives. Despite building a strong supporting role in most businesses, Microsoft is looking to make a larger impact with the introduction of Skype For Business Server and  Cloud PBX service.

Few large enterprises have switched to these Microsoft solutions. Some are taking the slow route, with others moving at a faster pace of adoption. Still, there are others who are hesitant to make the leap at all. Some improvements on Microsoft’s end are necessary, however, the lower cost is enticing to many.

A strong point for Cloud PBX is that it includes an option to Office 365 subscriptions. The Cloud PBX release coincided with Office 365 E5 option, which provides the Skype for Business client and the ability to make and receive domestic phone calls, as well as international dialing for an additional fee.

For those looking to house the server within the main office, but still allow remote access, the on-premise and cloud versions may work together in a hybrid environment.  Also, headsets can be connected to PCs or to Skype For Business compatible phones from different manufacturers. And now, both Skype for Business and Cloud PBX have a connector to existing PBX systems for those who want to use their existing phones.

Expanding Skype For Business
What is lacking in the Cloud PBX service is the auto-attendant feature, which allows for automated call routing. While it is not currently offered, its release is slated for later this year.

Microsoft is also working with Logitech and Polycom on Project Rigel. This project will expand the scope of the Surface Hub video conferencing system. A promise to extend public switched telephone network (PSTN) access beyond the U.S. is also in the works.

Microsoft is also working on its management tools, a common complaint about these services. The Office 365 Administration Center is getting new technology and upgrades to improve the management and monitoring system. Once these issues are addressed, it is likely that more companies will take another look at Microsoft’s office telephone solutions.

Lower Cost
Thanks to a lower cost than in recent years, many more are considering the switch. While the cost has come down significantly, they are still in the higher ballpark range for services. But overall, with a lower cost and an improved learning curve, Microsoft is headed in the right direction.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s approach to office telephony solutions? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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Microsoft Skype For Business & Cloud PBX
With Skype For Business, Cloud PBX service, and Office 365, can Microsoft become a main contender in the office telephony industry?

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