Teams and Skype Interop Feature Limitations & Workarounds

With more organizations adopting Microsoft teams and upgrading from Skype for Business, there are more users in those organizations that have a mix of Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business usage.

The experience of one user using Microsoft Teams, and another user using Skype for Business largely depends on what coexistence mode each user is in.  The coexistence mode is set in a Teams Upgrade policy which applies to the user account. There is a global Teams Upgrade policy defined at the tenant level which takes precedent if there is no Teams Upgrade policy applied to the user.

I often get questions from a Skype for Business user when they get the notification shown below in their client (which occurs when they are trying to communicate with another user who is using Teams and is in the “Teams Only” coexistence mode).

What is happening in this scenario is that the Skype for Business (SfB) user is chatting with a Team user.  The Sfb user is in Skype for Business only coexistence mode, and the other user is in the Teams Only mode.  Both users are in the same organization, and this scenario is not as native interop (interoperability).

In this scenario are there are a few feature limitations, and this is what the notification is warning the SfB user about.  But what are these feature limitations?  The limitations are documented deep in this Microsoft docs article:    Understand Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business coexistence and interoperability.

Teams and SfB interop is evolving all the time, so be sure to check back regularly if you have a question about a specific feature.  Currently (October 2019) here the two most significant limitations I see end-users experiencing, and how to work around them.

No Screen Sharing (Use a Meeting)

This is arguably one of the biggest current limitations.  However, users can share their screen in a Teams meeting.  Users in Teams will see the “Start sharing your screen” icon, they will be prompted to start an ad-hoc meeting with that user as shown here.

The Skype for Business user will receive an invite to join the meeting.

If the Skype for Business user wants to share their desktop they will be notified to start a meeting and walked through the steps to do so as shown here in the SfB client:

No File Transfer (Use a Meeting)

Currently users in an interop scenario cannot drop files and share them in a two-way or multi-party chat.  This is true both ways regardless of which client initiates the file transfer.

Like the screen sharing limitation, the work around is to have one of the users escalate the chat session to a meeting.  Creating a meeting will allow for file sharing between all of the participants.

“Interop Escalation”

As you can see, creating a meeting is a key workaround for these limitations right now.  This is known as “interop escalation”.  The experience of doing this for both the Teams and SfB users is well documented here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/teams-and-skypeforbusiness-coexistence-and-interoperability#interoperability-of-teams-and-skype-for-business.   It provides more information on the experience in each client and what pre-requisites are necessary.

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