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Microsoft Makes Skype for Business More Businesslike

March 27, 2017, 7:01 PM UTC

Microsoft just added a few more business-focused features to its Skype for Business phone and web conferencing service.

First up is Auto Attendant, a fairly standard feature in traditional business phone systems in which an automated voice answers and routes in-coming calls.

Second is Call Queues, which directs calls to the next-available attendant in the order received. Yes, you have heard variations of those words many times while on hold.

Microsoft (MSFT) is adding new services to Skype for Business to entice companies to start using its entire portfolio. It is bundled into higher end versions of Office 365, the cloud version of Microsoft’s email and desktop applications, for example.

The idea here is for companies to replace their current land-line systems with Skype for Business. But there is no shortage of competitors fighting for this business. They include Cisco’s (CSCO) Spark as well as Google (GOOG) Hangouts, which Google is retooling to attract business users. And Amazon (AMZN) Web Services Chime is the new kid on the block.

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Microsoft bought Skype six years ago for $8.5 billion. It subsequently introduced Lync, business-focused calling service, and rebranded that as Skype for Business in 2014.

While Microsoft uses the “Skype” label on both business and personal Internet calling products, you can’t assume you can reach Skype users from a Skype for Business account without doing some workarounds.