Since the start of this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has prioritized the development of its core offerings for competitor platforms.
The goal is to help Microsoft better compete in a modern "mobile-first, cloud-first" world by broadening its user base. Even if they don't want a new Surface, or prefer Mac OS to Windows 10, customers will still be using Redmond's software on their Apple and Android products.
We have seen Nadella's vision come to life with the development of Microsoft Office for iOS and Android phones, the launch of Office 2016 for Mac, and productivity apps for Apple Watch and Android Wear. Microsoft's Cortana has launched on Android. It is expected to arrive on iOS as well.
[In other iOS news: The iPhone 6s is expected Sept. 9.]
Now we're seeing the pattern continue with Microsoft's new Skype for Business platform. Over the last few months, the team has released the Skype for Business client for Windows, Skype for Business Online in Office 365, Skype for Business Server, and Skype for Business app on Windows Phone.
If you're not on Windows Phone and wanted to try Skype for Business on mobile, you can now do so. Microsoft today rolled out a preview version of the service on iOS and Android smartphones.
The Skype for Business preview delivers a simple dashboard interface, which directs you to an updated contact search bar for browsing your global address list for first names, last names, email addresses, or phone numbers. iOS users will find their phone contacts are included in the search capabilities.
The Skype dashboard also provides access to upcoming appointments, recent phone calls and chats, and a "Quick Join" icon to quickly jump into meetings. Microsoft also redesigned the In-Call and In-Meeting experiences for simpler navigation -- with larger buttons, full-screen video, and the option to view content and the speaker's video side-by-side.
Customers running Lync 2013 on iOS and Android will receive an updated Skype for Business app later this year. The mobile Skype for Business apps will run for all customers using Skype for Business Server 2015, Skype for Business Online, or Lync Server 2013.
Microsoft is allowing IT admins to nominate up to eight participants (four on iOS, four on Android) within their organizations to participate in the preview. You have until this Friday, Aug. 14, to apply for acceptance in its first batch of testers.