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Microsoft announced yesterday the long-awaited release of the technical preview of new Skype for Business services in Office 365. In case you missed the hype, these new capabilities will enhance the existing Skype for Business experience, and allow Microsoft to offer a complete, enterprise-grade communications solution at global scale as part of Office 365.
The technical preview is available to customers with Office 365 E3 or E4 plans, and includes:
Skype Meeting Broadcast, available to eligible Office 365 customers worldwide, enables broadcast of a Skype for Business meeting on the Internet to up to 10,000 people, who can attend in a browser on nearly any device. Skype Meeting Broadcast makes it easy to host large virtual meetings like internal “Town Hall” style meetings and public webinars. The preview includes integration with Bing Pulse, for real-time polling and sentiment tracking, and Yammer, to enable attendee dialogue during the broadcast.
PSTN Conferencing, available in preview to Office 365 customers in the U.S., allows people invited to a Skype for Business meeting in Office 365 to join the meeting by dialing in using a landline or mobile phone. This traditional dial-in capability is in addition to simple, single touch join options on PC, smartphone and browser, and allows people to join an online meeting even in places with no Internet access. PSTN Conferencing in Office 365 will also allow people to add others to a meeting by dialing out.
Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling, also available in preview to Office 365 customers in the U.S., provides people the ability to make and receive traditional phone calls in their Skype for Business client, and manage these calls with features like hold, resume, forward and transfer. This preview is built on the proven enterprise voice technology available in Lync Server and Skype for Business Server. Later this year, Microsoft will ship Cloud PBX for customers worldwide, with a configuration option for customers to use existing on-premises phone lines for inbound and outbound calling. During the preview, outbound calls are free of charge and local numbers are available in a number of cities across the U.S..
Microsoft have stated that because this is a pre-release program, they will not be able to accept all applications into the program, however their goal is to allow as many people as possible to try the new features before General Availability.
To sign-up for any of the previews, visit https://www.skypepreview.com/. To see a demonstration of the Skype Meeting Broadcast experience and learn more about how it works, watch this Office Mechanics video: