Exchange Online Unified Messaging Gone in 2020

February 11, 2019   //   Microsoft Unified Communications

Microsoft recently announced that they will be retiring Unified Messaging (UM) in Exchange Online –a move that is expected to affect many organizations.

What does this mean?

If you’re using Microsoft Lync 2013 or Skype for Business Server as your phone platform, and your users have their voicemail in Exchange Online, you have until February 2020 at the latest to transition to Cloud Voicemail. If you’re using Lync 2010, you’ll need to upgrade to a newer version of the server if you wish to keep voicemail. Some transitions may take effect as soon as next month, but if you receive the email and are not ready, you will have the option to postpone.

What do I have to do?

If you’re only using voicemail, Microsoft promises the transition should be relatively transparent provided you’re not using features that are not included in the new platform. No patching or changes to your system is required. If you have Automated Attendants in Exchange Online, you will need to rebuild these as Cloud Automated Attendants. Features required to reach parity with Unified Messaging Automated Attendants are coming shortly.

What new features will I get?

The largest benefit to this is that you’ll be using the new cloud voicemail workload, rather than the decade-plus old UM code that’s been ported to Exchange Online. With this, you’ll see continued enhancements, better support, and improved voice transcription. These features will only get better over time.

What existing features will I lose?

Some of the largest features that will go missing are the ability to dial in via a phone number to listen to your voicemail, the ability to record your greeting from a desk phone, and having voicemail call you back to play your voicemail. Additionally, if you’ve configured rules to play different greetings for different callers or have a personal menu system offering options, these will no longer be available.

When should I start planning this?

Now! If you’re unsure of where to start, reach out to SWC and we can assist you in your transition.