The Skype for Business Team announced April 26 as the start of the Public Preview of the Skype for Business Mac client, according to an Office Blogs site.

Individuals may sign up in their personal capacities or on behalf of their organizations to get a chance to test the pre-release version. The preview is initially open to IT administrators and IT pro testers with the goal of including everyone in the coming weeks.

The preview comes under a three-phase rollout until it is ready for public availability, scheduled for the third quarter of 2016.

Preview phase one, which is happening now, allows testers the ability to view Outlook calendar events at the Skype for Business. For instance, they can see what meetings are taking place on the current day based on their Outlook schedule. They can also join meetings in full screen video while being able to chat, invite others to the meetings, share content or simply view content.

Preview phase two will happen in early summer where instant messaging, contacts and presence will be added. The final phase, coming in late summer, will showcase telephony and related features.

The Skype Mac client runs on the latest Mac OS X El Capitan release, according to a Skype Mac client demonstration video. Users may continue to use Lync for Mac 2011 alongside the Mac client Preview to get continued access to voice and messaging features.

Microsoft has been convincing businesses to upgrade to a paid version of Skype for Business that can be integrated with Microsoft's Office suite and support a large number of online conference participants to up to 250, compared to only 20 people in the free version. Microsoft also claims that the paid version includes more security and account handling features, according to a Fortune report.

Apple has been pushing to land more of its computers into the enterprise, even forging partnerships with technology companies like IBM and Cisco. This has prompted Microsoft to make its products increasingly compatible with Apple's mobile devices, some observers note. In August 2015, the Redmond-based company also announced the iOS and Android versions of the business tool, which was eventually released later in the year.

Photo: Wesley Fryer | Flickr

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