Good news ... and bad news for Skype-using Apple fans and small biz

iOS app now offers native support for Office. End of the road for Managed Accounts

Microsoft is pulling Apple-leaning Skype users deeper into its lair.

Well, some of them. There's good news for iPhone and iPad owners, and bad news for some Mac users.

The good news: Office docs via Skype on iThings

The free voice and chat service now includes native support for Microsoft Office products in its iOS apps. In short, you'll be able to send and view Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents through Skype on your Apple phone.

According to Skype, it will be as simple as a single tap and then, thanks to new integration at the other end – where Skype's voice and messaging has been pulled into Office Online – you will be able to call whoever sent you the doc with another tap.

Combined with the recent news that Microsoft will finally be adding group video chat to its mobile apps (three years after Google Hangouts), it means that Skype is a more attractive option for business use.

Due to its head start on the market, Skype maintains a majority market share but it is being squeezed on two fronts: first, services like Citrix's GoToMeeting and Cisco's WebEx being used for business meetings; and second with people using apps they have socially for business – a prime example being Apple's Facetime.

In order to offer social-media type appeal, Skype has also announced the ability to easily share video messages with friends and family. Basically, it allows you to add messages left on Skype to your phone's photo roll, from where your phone's features can be used to send and share it.

As with almost everything Microsoft does, it's not sexy but it is useful.

The bad news: Mac-powered businesses relying on Skype are in for a rough ride

Skype Managed Accounts – useful for small businesses – are being phased out. From March 29, Managed Accounts will be converted into normal consumer accounts. If you want to continue using some of the biz-friendly features of Managed Accounts – such as administrating multiple accounts at once – you'll need to set up a Skype for Business account.

That's all well and good if you're on Windows. Unfortunately, there is no OS X app for Skype for Business yet; it's not due out until at least the summer. It will, we're told, be made available as a technical preview in the second quarter of 2016. In the meantime, Mac-powered businesses will have to make do with Lync for Mac 2011, which is rather old and not terribly well-liked by OS X users.

So if you're a Mac shop using Skype Managed Accounts, you'll have to put up with manually juggling separate consumer Skype accounts, or battle with Lync to manage them centrally, until the second half of the year. ®

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