Microsoft made the announcement recently that they’ve made the leap from the original Lync program (which actually used to be called the Star Trekish Microsoft Office Communicator) to Skype for Business; a separate interface from the widely-used Skype application that intends to make business calls and messaging even better than ever. This is good news, considering Facebook’s recent break-up with Skype in favor of its own technology to power video calls inside its Messenger app.skype_for_business.jpg!slider

But does Skype for Business live up to its hype?

When Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011, it didn’t waste any time integrating Skype’s features and technology into its other platforms, including Live Messenger and Xbox Live. But with all the good that the platform had to offer the corporate world, Microsoft Lync wasn’t going to be big enough to hold all that it could do. Besides, capitalizing on the more well-known name, Skype means that even everyday consumers will know the what and how of Skype for Business.

Right off the bat, one of the most popular features is certain to be the ability to use your desk phone for audio. It’s not required, of course, since that would defeat the purpose of having a separate app to make calls. You could just use the phone, right? But companies will find that having a Skype for Business account while still being able to take advantage of the phone handset for audio will mean increased call clarity while still saving a tremendous amount of money on a long-distance international calling plan for the office phones.

People who already use Skype for personal accounts are going to feel right at home in the Skype for Business dashboard, but newcomers will still be able to navigate quite easily after a few minutes’ use. The Quick Action buttons make the process very self-explanatory, offering up the options to make calls, use video, instant message, and more.

Skye users are probably familiar with sending a receiving files within the IM box, but Skype for Business now offers a preview box, so you don’t have to lose any connection speed while downloading the file. This preview lets you open it and navigate through the file right in the same window where you’re video chatting.

Of course, there’s no point in calling anything a business tool if you can’t set-up a multi-user meeting. Skype for Business has that covered too, and includes easy access buttons along the side view of the screen to make it all happen.

There are a host of other features and updates that will make veterans and first-timers alike take to the platform, all while keeping costs down and maintaining a level of connectivity that can benefit any type of business. And with the longevity of both Skype and Microsoft powering it, it’s a safe bet that the functionality won’t disappoint.