Skype for Business arrives on Windows Phone, but lacking a key feature for Office 365

The good news: The new app arrives on Windows Phone before iOS and Android. The other news: Syncing's not quite ready.

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Although Microsoft has now brought Skype for Business to Windows Phone, its own business customers—those who subscribe to Office 365—may be disappointed to learn that one key feature hasn’t yet been implemented: conversation syncing.

Skype for Business has already replaced Lync on desktop PCs and the Web, and Windows Phone 8.1 phones will automatically download the new Skype for Business app to replace Lync 2013. (Windows Phone 8.0 users can continue using Lync 2013 or Lync 2010; those phones won’t be able to update to the new app.) 

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Given the fact that a phone has limited space with which to work, one change that Microsoft has made to the app is to “wall off” extraneous conversations. If a new message arrives on your phone, you’ll have the option to answer it without other clients' grabbing the conversation, Microsoft said. Microsoft has also encrypted your conversation and voice mail history by default.

One of the complaints Skype users have had, however, is that conversations that roam between various platforms don’t sync appropriately, meaning that you might end up with notifications being sent to your PC some time before they arrive on your phone. Microsoft apparently solved that problem, provided you’re running the latest server software—just not for Office 365 users. That capability will be coming soon, the company said.

Otherwise, the new Skype for Business app for Windows Phone features the Skype UI and 100 new emoticons, to give it a bit of extra punch.

Last week the Skype for Business team previewed a “broadcast” feature that will allow meetings to be shown to up to 10,000 participants. The app now also works with traditional telephones, so that users can simply dial in to conference calls.

Why this matters: To its credit, Microsoft has launched Skype for Business on Windows Phone, ahead of iOS and Android—not always the case, to be sure. Still, I suspect that some IT admins wish that Microsoft would get its ducks in a row before releasing the Windows Phone app. Not knowing where you are in a business conversation can give the appearance that you’re unprofessional—and it’s also just plain annoying.

This story, "Skype for Business arrives on Windows Phone, but lacking a key feature for Office 365" was originally published by PCWorld.