If you’ve signed up for Office 365 after October 2018, then you may be surprised to find that Skype for Business Online doesn’t appear to be included. This change, for new Office 365 subscriptions with less than 500 users can easily catch larger organizations that also sign up for a trial subscription when getting started.
If you’ve been surprised to find Skype for Business Online isn’t in your tenant, then read on. We’ll explain where it’s gone and how to enable it.
Consider going with it – Teams is ready
Before doing anything else, consider using Microsoft Teams instead of Skype for Business Online. Microsoft Teams is the replacement for Skype for Business Online and comes with the next generation of instant messaging, voice and video calling and meetings, along with group chat and collaboration tools.
In its default settings in your new Office 365 tenant, it’s capable of using Federation capabilities to allow you to IM and call users of Skype for Business in other organizations, and you can still use the Skype for
Of course, there are valid reasons why you might need to enable some or all users for Skype for Business. These might include:
- You’ve bought meeting room devices that work with Skype for Business Online, but are still awaiting updates for Microsoft Teams
- You are deploying in a Virtual Desktop (VDI) environment, and require vendor support for their audio/video plug-ins
- You have currently deployed Skype for Business Server on-premises, and need to transition to Online gradually, before moving users to Teams.
If you are sure you do need Skype for Business Online, then read on.
Enabling Skype for Business using the admin center
At the time of writing (November
To perform either of these actions, first navigate to the Microsoft 365 admin center, and select Teams & Skype from the navigation menu:
Within the Microsoft Teams Admin Center, we can either enable Skype for the
To enable Skype for Business for the whole organization, navigate to Org-Wide Settings>Teams Upgrade. We’ll now change the Co-existence mode from the drop-down list.
We can either choose Islands Mode or Skype for Business Only. In Skype for Business only mode, we’ll expect that users won’t use Teams yet. However, in Islands mode we will allow users to access Teams and perform IM, chat
Upon selecting one of the modes, you won’t be able to switch back to the default mode – Teams Only – from the user interface. Don’t worry though – we’ll explain how to do this via PowerShell later.
If you only need to change some users to use Skype for Business, you can do this on a per-user basis. Navigate to Users and select the user you wish to update and choose Edit. Then, scroll down to Teams Upgrade. You can choose Islands or Skype for Business Only or revert to the organization-wide setting.
Enabling via PowerShell or switching back to Teams-Only mode
If you are planning to enable Skype for Business for multiple users, then you may prefer to use PowerShell. If you need to move back to Teams-Only mode, then you will need to use PowerShell to accomplish this.
Management of the Microsoft Teams service (rather than individual Teams) is performed using the Skype for Business Online PowerShell Module. Follow our guide to install it, and then connect to a new session using an Admin account.
$Session = New-CsOnlineSession
After connection, we’ll use the Grant-CsTeamsUpgradePolicy cmdlet to change the policy. There’s a range of policies available (as described in the cmdlet documentation), but to enable Skype for Business, we’ll use the Islands or SfBOnly policies (which correspond to the policies shown in the user interface above). We can use the -PolicyName parameter on its own to set the organization-wide policy, or specify the -Identity parameter to set the policy for a user:
Grant-CsTeamsUpgradePolicy -PolicyName Islands
Grant-CsTeamsUpgradePolicy -PolicyName SfBOnly -Identity email@example.com
Finally, if you wish to move back to Teams Only – and revert to the default settings of a new Office 365 subscription, set the UpgradeToTeams policy:
Grant-CsTeamsUpgradePolicy -PolicyName UpgradeToTeams
New Office 365 subscriptions for organizations with 500 or fewer users now use Teams only by default. You can
At some point, Skype for Business Online will be replaced by Microsoft Teams. If you’re not yet using Teams, but want to get started ‘How to get your team ‘on Teams’ explores a practical approach to adoption and Teams management. For best practices on settings and protocols to keep your organization’s Microsoft Teams secure, check out Microsoft Teams Security: A Primer on How to Secure Microsoft Teams.