Davidoff777 - Fotolia
Microsoft will add support for SIP phones to Teams next year, significantly increasing the phone options for customers with voice over IP systems.
Microsoft announced this week that it would launch session initiation protocol (SIP) phone support within its 365 collaboration application in the first half of next year. Also, the company extended Teams support for Skype for Business phones beyond the 2023 deadline. Microsoft did not say for how long customers could continue using Skype phones with Teams.
Microsoft has been broadening phone support within Teams since early 2019, when hardware certified for the cloud-based software first hit the market. The latest announcement will add support for SIP phones from Cisco, Yealink and Polycom. Teams will also support other manufacturers, Microsoft said.
Having support for SIP phones is helpful to Microsoft customers because many of them already use the devices. SIP support will make it "much easier and cheaper" to move to Teams, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research.
"They will no longer have to replace handsets," he said.
SIP phones are popular because many companies subscribe to SIP trunking services from communication service providers (CSPs). CSPs use the protocol to provision voice over IP connectivity between an on-premises phone system and the public switched telephone network.
Extended Skype for Business support
Microsoft's decision to extend support for Skype for Business phones will help companies with the on-premises version of the software that Microsoft will eventually replace with Teams.
Skype phones are known as third-party IP (3PIP) devices. Microsoft provides a gateway for connecting the phones to Teams. However, Teams does not support many features in 3PIP telephones, such as touchscreen displays that let users join meetings, view calendars and read voicemail transcripts.
Nevertheless, the extended support will help organizations that need to continue using the on-premises version of Skype for Business. Cloud-based phone systems do not have all the features required by large enterprises. Therefore, many of them prefer in-house phone systems. Microsoft has said it will continue supporting on-premises Skype through at least 2025.
Microsoft's latest Teams update also included the introduction of a line of Teams phones with physical push buttons and core calling features. Manufacturers, including AudioCodes, Polycom and Yealink, will release the phones in early 2021 for use in common office areas.
Microsoft also made improvements to the Teams service. The company raised the number of people who can join a Teams meeting to 20,000. However, Microsoft caps the number of people who can interact in the gathering at 1,000. The rest are in view-only mode.