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Skype for Business vanishes after Office 2016 upgrade

Customers who recently upgraded to Office 2016 were in for an unpleasant surprise after Skype for Business was uninstalled from their machines.

After upgrading to Office 2016 in September 2015, some end users reported Skype for Business was no longer on their computers. Those who tried to reinstall the program received an error message stating it was incompatible with the new version of Microsoft's Office suite.

Many Office 2016 users who were unable to install Skype for Business -- formerly Lync -- took to Twitter to voice their complaints. Some were initially happy with the upgrade, but frustrated that Skype for Business wasn't immediately compatible with Office 2016. End users also sent tweets to Microsoft Office and Skype Twitter accounts directly to ask about the issue.

Tom Petrocelli, a research director for enterprise social, mobile and cloud applications at IT market research and consulting company Neuralytix Inc., reported that he received an incompatibility error message and that others had received the same message.

Jemma Roxburgh, an IT technical consultant from London was also unable to install Skype for Business after upgrading to Office 2016.

Keith Baldwin, an IT consultant based in Dallas, reported that the versions of Skype for Business available for download in the Office 365 administration portal were incompatible with Office 2016. The Office 365 admin portal is where administrators manage users' accounts and settings, as well as download the latest version of Office.

The Office 365 team offered two scenarios in which the bug would delete Skype for Business or prevent it from being installed: the user either has a standalone version of Skype for Business installed on their computer, or Office 365 Business Premium with Office 2016.

The issue occurs because download links for the Skype for Business client in the Office 365 admin center refer to Office 2013, not Office 2016, the Office 365 team added.

Microsoft reported it was aware of the issue and offered a workaround for customers who were unable to install Skype for Business after the upgrade: Download a standalone or 64-bit client from a location-based website.

Karen C., an answer desk technician for Office, confirmed that customers who upgraded from Office 2013 to Office 2016 can downgrade to install Skype for Business. According to Karen C., the best course of action for customers who installed Office 2016 would be to receive a refund from the retailer or from Microsoft and download Office 2013.

"If [a customer] installed Office 2016, I'm afraid there is no option to downgrade to a lower version because what they have in the first place is Office 2016," she said. "We do have resolutions in place to fix this issue, but it depends on the scenario."

While the number of customers affected by the compatibility problem was likely in the several thousands, it went relatively unnoticed because home users don't use Skype for Business, noted Mark Vale, a UC consultant at risual, an IT services organization based in the UK. Enterprises will update on their own schedules, as they tend to be more conservative when it comes to upgrades because of security and compliance concerns.

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