There’s a major gap between Meet Now in Teams and Skype which means you’ll want to keep both. Also two other features in Skype but not Meet Now plus another reason that Microsoft doesn’t like talking about.
Meet Now is Microsoft’s newer computer-to-computer calling and virtual conferencing service. It’s linked to Teams but Microsoft is pushing it hard with buttons in Outlook (online and Windows). Windows 11 will likely include a ‘Meet Now’ button.
Both Teams and Meet Now are being targeted at both business and personal users. There’s already a Teams for Home, Teams is now for families and ‘real’ people
The rise of Meet Now has led to speculation that Skype is going to be dropped by Microsoft. Certainly, Meet Now has features not available in Skype, especially screen sharing and PowerPoint presentations.
But Meet Now is missing one important option that’s in Skype and special relevance to Microsoft 365/Office 365 customers. Skype can call regular phones (landline or mobile) with Microsoft 365 customers getting an hour of ‘free’ calls.
Skype also has SMS and translation features not possible (yet) in Meet Now.
Skype calls to regular phone numbers
Skype can call regular phone numbers from your computer or smartphone. This has been a Skype feature for a long time and very handy it can be.
Skype can call almost any regular number, anywhere in the world. Landline or mobile, though the rates vary. The receiver just answers their phone as usual and doesn’t know you’re calling from a computer.
The calls are cheap, though regular phone plans have made the Skype savings less than they once were. The main advantage of Skype calling is for international calls.
Skype calls to phones work over the Internet or mobile broadband from a smartphone. That means you can make overseas phone calls from your smartphone without paying the high international rates demanded by most mobile phone providers. Use either wifi or mobile data.
Calling to phones from Skype is a handy fallback or emergency option. If you’re travelling and have to call home (say your bank to fix a credit card problem) or airline. Skype can call from locations that have wifi but are in a mobile coverage blindspot.
It also lets you keep in touch with people who either don’t have a computer or not comfortable with online calls.
Skype calls to phones requires at least one of three things:
- Subscription plan – good for regular callers.
- Pay as you go credit – for occasional need.
- Microsoft 365 subscription. Family and Personal plans come with 60 minutes of calls to many global phone numbers.
The Skype ’60 minutes of calls to phones’ is available to all Microsoft 365 Family or Personal users except plans sold in Algeria, Bahrain, China, Egypt, India, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, Taiwan, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.
Not all numbers are covered by the Microsoft 365, Skype minutes deal.
Landlines in all accepted countries are covered by the Microsoft 365 plan. Calls to mobile phones are available in some countries such as USA, Canada, Hong Kong, China, Guam, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and Thailand (i.e. places where there’s no cost difference between calls to landlines or mobiles).
The mobile phone and 60 minute monthly limit means it’s a good idea to add a small credit to your Skype account. That will cover calls not covered by the Microsoft 365 deal.
Send SMS too
Skype also lets you send (not receive) SMS text messages. The messages appear to come from your Skype linked phone number.
SMS has been largely replaced by messaging (Signal or WhatsApp) but still has a place. Like phone calls, Skype SMS to international numbers is usually cheaper than texting using the regular phone system.
Voice translation is available between English (UK or US), Chinese (Simplified or Traditional, , French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish.
Text translation of text messaging is possible between over 60 languages.
Meet Now will get translation features, but not yet.
People are used to Skype
For many personal users, they are accustomed to Skype and maybe Zoom. Moving to other software is a major hassle and worry for less confident people.
Anyone who has tried to get an elderly or tech-phobe person into using Skype knows the problem. It’s easier to stick with the ‘devil you know’ even when the new alternative is better.
The migration problem is something Microsoft is (willfully?) blind to. Not everyone is happy to jump into the latest thing.