Modality Systems Blog

Communications & collaboration insights from our team of award-winning Microsoft productivity experts.

Skype for Business vs Microsoft Teams the six user modes explained

Subscribe to Our Blog

Skype for Business vs Microsoft Teams - the six user modes explained

Written by Modality Newsroom on 17, January 2019


Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams are leading enterprise communication and collaboration tools for large businesses with dispersed workforces. Teams has become Microsoft's fastest growing application of all time, with 329,000 companies using it worldwide (including 87 of the Fortune 100), making it impossible for enterprises on a ‘digital transformation’ journey to ignore. In this blog, find out the main differences between Skype for Business and Teams alongside the six deployment or ‘user modes’, explained by Principal Solutions Architect Tom Arbuthnot.

Whilst some organisations will have strong advocates and programmes for migrating fully to Teams, others may prefer a more cautious approach for various technology and business-related reasons. There is no universal right or wrong approach, and there are arguments for the two platforms to coexist; however, understanding which path is right for your organisation can be difficult.


Why migrate your communications to Microsoft Teams?

In short, the answer very much depends on understanding the requirements of your organisation and identifying the specific use cases. Microsoft Teams is a comprehensive collaboration application that incorporates much of the functionality available in Skype for Business (chat, calling and conferencing), with the added benefits of enhanced collaboration capabilities, including file and calendar sharing, integrated applications and the ability to work from anywhere with a user-friendly mobile version.

At Modality Systems, we have found Teams invaluable for project management and are gradually migrating all departments on a use case basis. Whilst some teams, such as marketing and software development, are fully immersed in Teams for their day-to-day tasks, Skype for Business remains a fundamental platform for a small group of employees who require certain features.


Skype for Business Vs Microsoft Teams


The adoption of Teams is a personal journey which should be more about the business value rather than the technology. The value of Teams as a collaborative, productivity enhancing tool is reasonably well known, but plotting the course for how and where you adopt it is bespoke to each organisation.


Is it ok to use Skype for Business alongside Microsoft Teams?

Yes, this is not a problem, as long as you have established clear use cases for both. For instance, you might prefer to continue using Skype for Business for chat and calls and use Teams for sharing and collaborating on files. (Learn more about this ‘mixed approach’ in the final three user modes below.)


The six user modes for Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams:


1. Islands or evaluation mode

In this mode, all capabilities in Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams are enabled. This can cause a lot of confusion for users over which platform to use, so it is recommended that this mode is selected for testing purposes only.


2. Skype for Business only

Remain solely with Skype for Business with Teams switched off. This could be the result of requiring specific functionality or for specific business types such as customer service desks, for example.


 3. Microsoft Teams only

Migrate fully to Microsoft Teams and switch off Skype for Business. Collaborative businesses with a cloud-based strategy are prime candidates for this model.




 Watch: Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams user modes explained with Tom Arbuthnot


The final 3 modes are “mixed mode” deployments dependent on your specific circumstances. These can be adopted as either temporary modes to support a gradual migration process or have a longer term life span:


4. Teams collaboration mode

This means using Teams for chat and file-centric collaboration for projects, whilst Skype for Business is used for audio/video calls and conference calls.


5. Teams collaboration and meetings mode

In this mode, Teams is the central place for working on projects, files and chats as well as calls. Skype for Business remains the default for your general telephony but you can use Teams’ advanced video capabilities to schedule and host meetings.


6. Meetings first

This is a relatively new mode, announced at Microsoft Ignite, specifically for Skype for Business Server customers who aren’t ready to move to Teams for calling yet but want to mix and match Teams meetings with Skype for Business. Similar to the mode above, this means users can still use Skype for Business for their telephony alongside Teams’ meetings capabilities.


Modality Systems is currently working fully in Teams with a select group of ‘island’ users that still need access to Skype for Business for software testing and customer support purposes. We have identified the value and use cases for Teams throughout our departments but as with any change programme, it needs to be continuously managed. You can track our progress by subscribing to our YouTube channelwhere we have been documenting our Teams journey.

For more information, Microsoft recently released updated guidance for upgrading from Skype for Business to Teams. If you have any questions,  get in touch with us.



Planning your migration from Skype for Business to Teams? Watch our webinar on demand, hosted by Peter Vasey, for insights on: 

- Migration options and models.

- Considerations to help you make the right decisions for your users and business.

- Best practices for success.

Webinar on demand: Moving from Skype to Teams




Topics: Teams Insights

OneMeeting free trial


Drive adoption, best practices and efficient collaboration with deep insights to your Microsoft O365 investment with Teamwork Analytics. See it in action today!

Teamwork Analytics-ON DEMAND

Send a Message