Microsoft will retire Skype for Business Online by July 31, 2021. They intend to move all Skype customers over to Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is an online collaboration workspace application and service that includes chat, file-sharing, video conferencing and more.

There are several benefits for businesses using Microsoft Teams instead of Skype. The platform manages to bring together files, chats, and apps, all the while providing functionality that allows for faster and seamless collaboration. Thanks to these features, Teams is a better communication tool than Skype as the core communications client for Office 365.

Plus, it integrates across the entire productivity suite of Microsoft 365 apps and hundreds of third-party integrations, making it your one-stop shop for communication and collaboration.

The Phasing out and Move to Teams

Granted, there are numerous benefits of moving your communications from Skype to Teams, but this doesn't mean that migration won't require some time and effort. For this reason, Microsoft has taken several steps to ensure that the transition process will be as easy as possible.

  • Shorter Retention Periods - All new retention period options will allow customers to limit their chat retention periods to a minimum of one day. This will ensure that, when data is deleted, it will also be removed from all storage locations in the Teams service. This feature will be available in Teams by the end of 2019.
  • Dynamic E911 - Being a feature of Microsoft Teams Phone System, Dynamic E911 will automatically take the caller's location and route it to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) call center. This PSAP will be operated by the local government in their region. The E911 feature will be part of Teams in the United States by the end of 2019.
  • Compliance Recording and Contact Center Integration - In addition, Microsoft has been talking with its Teams and Skype for Business certified partners to enable Contact Center and Compliance Recording solutions. This will include, among others, Video, Chat conversations, Conference, PSTN, Remote Agent, Mobile or Federated Voice, Content Share, etc.

Download our Getting Starting with Teams Guide to help make your transition seamless!

How to Prepare for the Skype-To-Teams Migration?

A successful transition from Skype for Business Online to Microsoft Teams will require some degree of planning. Microsoft suggests that you start using Teams as soon as possible. This way, you will allow yourself ample time to complete the transition before Skype's retirement date. Keep in mind that after July 31, 2021, Skype for Business will no longer be accessible or supported.

In terms of actual planning, every organization will have to design their own transition journey, which is no small feat, especially for larger organizations with many users.

Why Microsoft Teams?

Let's see how Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business compare.

Both tools allow for individual and group chats, as well as turning chats into calls. However, while you can send emojis via both, only Teams allows for memes and gifs, which in a remote workforce can make staying connected easier. Plus, unlike Skype, Teams stores your conversation history so if you need to go back and reference something, you can easily scroll up or use the search function to find it.

Teams' biggest advantage is its file-sharing capabilities, making it more than just a communication platform. Now, users (both internally and externally, with the right permissions) can share files and collaborate on documents in real-time. Gone are the days of finding the most recent version of something - the latest and greatest will be up to date and synced in real-time in your Teams app.

When it comes to meetings, Teams also has some new and unique features, too. Just like Skype, you can schedule a meeting via Outlook and use the Scheduling Assistant to find the best time for all attendees. Where it differs, though, is that you can have persistent chat before, during and after the meeting. Meaning, you can continue to use that group chat as long as you see fit - this is especially beneficially for recurring meetings with multiple people. You can also tag people in the group meeting chat and 'like' messages to acknowledge you've seen them.  Lastly, you can add notes to your meetings and easily send them out afterwards for review, which also stay in the meeting history.

Overall, if you're feeling overwhelmed about the transition, try to get excited - there are so many cool and new things you are going to be able to do! And if you need help, Teams is kind of our thing.

Want a firsthand experience with Microsoft Teams? Then join us for Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience all around Teams.

We'll provide a fake environment so you can login and get a true to life experience guided by one of our Microsoft Certified CIE Facilitators - all free of charge. Learn more.

By Bryan Timm

While Skype is putting people in touch with their loved ones in a socially distant world; Skype for Business is saying goodbye to companies across the globe. It was announced last summer that Skype for Business Online would be retired on July 31, 2021. This leaves less than a year for companies still utilizing Skype for Business (SFBO) to transition to Microsoft Teams; the replacement product launched in 2017. It is much more than a replacement though, as Microsoft Teams brings together chat, meetings, calling, coloration, app integration, and file storage into a singular product; with an easy to navigate interface.

A Forrester Consulting survey done in 2019 shows us that utilizing Teams has so many benefits including:

  1. “Information workers save 4 hours per week from improved collaboration and information sharing.”
  2. “Companies reported reduced web conferencing, long-distance, mobile phone, and on-premises telephony solutions costs”
  3. “Decision makers improve their time-to-decision by 17.7%.”

What are some of the main advantages of using Microsoft Teams to Skype for Business?

  1. Chat history – Skype for business allowed real-time chat, but with no easily accessible history of the conversation
  2. Team Features – The ability to have private teams built out to have spaces to share, chat, and collaborate together
  3. Meetings – Live captions, whiteboard masking, and easy to access recordings all set Teams apart from its predecessor
  4. Integrations – Choose from hundreds of apps that integrate directly into Microsoft Teams, such as Confluence, Asana, Evernote, SurveyMonkey, and Github.
  5. Guest Access – Need to invite someone outside of the organization? Give them one-time guest access to your meetings or events with Microsoft Teams
  6. Storage – Files used in teams while create a SharePoint site, giving ease of access to a shared storage solution

The countdown has begun to start thinking about your business’ shift to Microsoft Teams. A true Teams deployment is more than just downloading the application, however. You’ll need to review your current configuration, and ensure that all appropriate pieces are moved over to Microsoft Teams. And if you need help, you can rely on technical experts like us!

One of the biggest questions asked: What’s the difference between Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams? Microsoft breaks this down:

What is the best feature of Microsoft Teams?


Channels allow your departments, teams, or sometimes your whole organization a single place to communicate, store files, and integrate apps; without cluttering up the view of other departments or teams who do not necessarily need it (ie: the Marketing team vs the Finance team).

You'll still be able to communicate 1:1 or in any sized group with chats as well. You can A Forrester Consulting survey done in 2019 and take the conversation wherever you go!

What are some Microsoft Teams use cases?

Microsoft Teams is in use at one of the most recognizable names in the sky, Air France. Prior to utilizing Teams, frontline employees struggled to communicate effectively with each other. After its implementation, it allowed them to utilize Teams to collaborate in real-time on a OneNote; to share a summary of daily activities, schedules, and notes that are shared effectively through the cloud.

CenturyLink, a telecommunications company, is going through a strategic growth into a technology leader. Microsoft Teams is helping the company fit it’s new vision “One Company, One Culture” by helping employees stay connected. Cristi Robb, Manager of Information Technology, states that everyone now “works together on one platform to solve corporate problems and achieve our goal to serve customers better”.

Li & Fung, a global supply chain orchestrator, has leveraged Microsoft products & services, including Microsoft Teams, to help serve as a communication platform for their digital product development (DPD) solution. This DPD has helped saved them thousands of dollars and weeks of design time; keeping their business efficient and lean.

What are the main differences between Skype and Microsoft Teams?

Download our Getting Started with Teams Guide to learn more.

How can Microsoft Teams help my team stay connected while working remotely?

Here at Managed Solution, we use Microsoft Teams for nearly everything. It allows us to call and stay connected through 1:1 calls, group calls, meetings, and Live Events; as well as serving as a document management solution that is accessible by only members of that Channel. Our team is located across North America and by utilizing Microsoft Teams we stay connected to each other 24/7 (when we aren’t out volunteering our time in the community).

What are some of the most frequently asked questions about upgrading from Skype to Teams?

  1. Is there a deadline to upgrade for Skype for Business Online customers? Yes. Skype for business online will be retired on July 31, 2021; at which point it will no longer be accessible or supported.
  2. How long does it take to upgrade? That depends on your wants and needs; but it is typically is a 4-6 week process.
  3. My organization is running both; can I just disable Skype for Business? No. You will want to switch to Teams only mode to complete the upgrade.
  4. Will Skype for Business continue to receive upgrades until retirement? No. There will be no more updates to the application before it’s retirement on July 31, 2021.
  5. What does this mean from a licensing perspective? Microsoft Teams is included with Microsoft/Office 365 suites (including the E# products).
  6. Will this work as my phone system? Microsoft 365 provides features to run a 100% cloud-based PBX system. No need for physical devices or on-site equipment!

What are some of the steps involved in setting up Microsoft Teams? 

  1. Identify the teams you will be utilizing in Microsoft Teams (Sales, Admin, Finance, IT, etc). Teams can be rolled out to a single group or department for testing and early adoption. This is best to plan ahead.
  2. Build out the Channels based on the identified teams, projects, or other subsets of your organization. Then set the appropriate permissions for channel admins and end users.
  3. (Optional) Integrate phone system into Microsoft Teams.
  4. Disable Skype for Business on end user machines.
  5. Schedule training with end users throughout the organization for Microsoft Teams

The most important question is: Are you ready for Teams?




Here’s what’s new in the latest update to Skype on Windows 10

By Vicky Gkiza as written on
Today, we’re excited to roll out an update to the Skype app on Windows 10 which makes it easier for you to stay in touch with friends from your Windows 10 devices.
With the new update, you can easily share your files to Skype, react to messages, and get to your calls and conversations faster than ever. Let’s take a look at what’s new in this update:

Get to your calls and conversations faster

Get to your calls and conversations faster

In the first in a set of updates we’ll be making, the new look helps you get to your calls and conversations faster – you can now start new conversations, see your profile and visit the dial pad from the top of your recent conversations.

Share photos, videos and more directly to Skype

Share photos, videos and more directly to Skype

Now you can easily share files, videos, photos, links and more directly to Skype from your Windows 10 PC – just click on the Windows share charm, and select Skype.

New message reactions

New message reactions

By simply tapping on the reaction icon next to any message or video call, you can now easily express how you feel at any time.
We’re excited to share these new features to make it easier than ever for you to stay in touch with friends from your Windows 10 devices. To learn more about the new Skype, check out the Skype blog!

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Introducing the next generation of Skype

As written on
Life is busy and filled with too many options. Staying connected, with all this noise, can sometimes be challenging. And in a world of choice, having a familiar place to share with the people who are closest to you, can go a long way. Today, we are introducing the next generation of Skype to make experiencing life together, every day, simpler.
Rebuilt from the ground up, the new Skype vastly improves the ways you can connect with your favorite people and, of course, chatting is front and center. We’ve made group chats more lively, expressive, and—most importantly—personalized, so you can chat the way you want. With the new Skype, you’ll have countless ways to share life’s moments together, every day. Wherever life takes you, Skype allows you to seamlessly create, play, share, and do more with the people you care about most.

Skype Group ChatYour everyday place for personal connections

We want to help you deepen connections within your personal network. There’s only one of you in this world, so now you can show-off your personal style by customizing Skype with your favorite colors. When in a conversation, you should always make sure your voice is heard, or more specifically, your emoticon is seen! By simply tapping on the reaction icon next to any message or video call, you can now easily express how you feel at any time.
And the next time you’re on an adventure exploring the world (or relaxing poolside on a deserved break), share your experience with Skype’s new feature: Highlights. Highlights lets you create a highlight reel of your day with photos and videos, so you can share everyday moments. To post a Highlight, swipe to access your camera, take a photo or video, then post it to your Highlights or send it directly to your contacts or groups. Once you post a Highlight, your friends and family can react to it with emoticons or by jumping into a conversation. The new Skype is your canvas, and now you’re free to share in more expressive ways with your closest friends, family and groups.

Skype Highlights

Your one place to share, chat, and explore

Of course, relationships go beyond simple conversations. With the new Skype, it’s even easier to turn talk into action with group conversations, add-ins, and bots*. The new “Find” panel takes center stage, and makes Skype infinitely searchable. Looking for seats to a big game? Pull ticket pricing and seating options directly into the chat with the StubHub bot. Trying to find the perfect recipe for the brunch you’re hosting? Discover the latest trends with the BigOven add-in and learn the many ways you can make that avocado toast. Planning a weekend getaway with old friends? Chat with the Expedia bot to check flight times and pricing. And that’s just the start. New add-ins and bots will continue to be added, making your Skype experience even more rich and robust. With the ability to connect to your favorite businesses and brands from within the app, the simplest conversations can pave the way to lasting memories.

Available everywhere, so you can go anywhere

We’re really excited to share this new Skype with you. We think it’s the best Skype we’ve ever built—inside and out—and it’s been designed to make it easier for you to use for your everyday communications. Now, Skype can be with you for all life’s moments, no matter where the world takes you—on your favorite devices, to smart speakers, and beyond.
Skype has been a part of your life since 2003. Yet, our promise to you has always stayed the same: to help you create meaningful connections, regardless of the distance, in new, simple and intuitive ways. And with the new Skype we’re closer than ever to bringing your world together.

Skype group video calling

Today, we begin rolling out the new Skype worldwide, coming first to mobile and then to desktop. It will be available first on Android devices, releasing gradually over the coming weeks, followed by the new version for iPhone. Versions for Windows and Mac will be released over the next few months.
Visit the new feature page to learn more and check out the new features in the videos below. For questions, please visit the FAQs. We look forward to hearing your feedback in our Community!

*Availability of add-ins varies by market. Some add-ins mentioned here will be coming soon.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Skype at Build 2017

Skype brings developers and consumers closer together at Build 2017

As written on
At last year’s Microsoft Build conference, Satya Nadella announced Skype’s leap into the world of conversational computing, officially opening up the Skype platform with the debut of Skype chat bots—intelligent helpers you can add directly into your chats to make life more productive and fun.
We’ve learned a lot in the past year, and have been taking feedback from our great bot partners, hackathons, and online communities to make Skype the best possible experience for both consumers and developers.
This year at Microsoft Build 2017, we are thrilled to take things even further, evolving Skype as a platform for bots to a fully extensible and open platform for developers to integrate their technologies in order to build great conversational experiences.

What’s New

Evolve – Skype Bots are evolving: This time last year, we announced the first preview chat and calling bots available on Skype. Since then, the capabilities and intelligent APIs have evolved tremendously to enable a blend of natural language and rich GUI interactions. Bots can chat in both 1:1 and group conversations, and can use video and audio cards with quick actions to guide the conversation. And today we announced our real-time video SDK preview for enabling interactive video experiences.
Expand – Talking video bots: These new bots can now be a direct participant in 1:1 or group Skype video calls using the real-time media platform for bots being released in preview. This platform provides real-time, voice and video streams of a Skype call which allows developers to build personal, immersive communications experiences with services and brands. Developers can now use their creative talents to create engaging, entertainment, and educational assistance bots with rich and interactive media content built into the experience.
Extend – You can now build your service directly into Skype: In the next few months we’ll be rolling out Skype Add-ins, a new feature to make it easier for developers to integrate their applications into 1:1 and group conversations. Developers can build on their existing web investments and provide consumers unique ways of bringing experiences into their Skype conversations without leaving the app.
Embed – Bring Skype chat to any website: Another new feature, Skype Web Control, lets developers bring the Skype chat canvas onto any website with only two lines of code. Web Control works with both bots and real Skype accounts, meaning you can easily chat with a bot, business, or individual from any web-control enabled website without needing to sign into Skype. And if you are a business owner or independent developer, you can easily use web control to plug your relevant Skype chat window into Bing to maximize exposure.
Monetize – Bot Payments: Now, as a developer, you can easily enable payments in your bot through the Microsoft Bot Framework, allowing consumers to make purchases directly in a Skype Bot chat, with the security of Microsoft Checkout, giving consumers the power to purchase directly through a bot without switching apps.
Grow – More surfaces for Skype: We’re also happy to share that Skype calling will be available on the Harmon Kardon Invoke, with voice activated commands that enable users to call individual contacts, businesses, or even communicate directly with talking bots, meaning your Skype experience can extend further than ever before. Stay tuned for more to come in this space in the near future!
This past year has been a fantastic learning experience for all of us as Skype and we strive to enable the best conversational experiences that help people be more connected to the things they care about, and more productive in their daily lives. We’re excited to continue to evolve the Skype platform into the best canvas for communication powered experiences. In addition to building more intelligent bots, developers can now also extend the power of the Skype canvas with Add-ins and even embed Skype directly on their website. Whatever your scenario, we want to help developers create the optimal experience across the entirety of a conversations, empowering them to surprise and delight consumers in the process.

DSC_0021Working Abroad

Creating the Perfect Remote Workspace

Working remotely is a great experience, but having your own workspace can be difficult to keep up with.  Follow these helpful hints for making your home office feel less like a place to work and more like a place to create.

Staying organized

Cluttered desk = cluttered mind.  Before you start getting to work, clean up your desk space to help you set a productive tone.  Plus you won't be tempted to take a work-break to clean up your space so you can stay on-task all day.

Go paperless - OneNote

One of the best ways to de-clutter is by going (at least mostly) paperless.  By using OneNote to jot down notes and Planner to organize your tasks, you can skip all the notebooks and to-do list post-it notes.  Plus, you'll be doing your part to be a little more eco-friendly!


When you're traveling, one of the hardest things is being away from your home and loved ones.  Keep pictures of them around your desk to make you feel a little less far away.  For more decorative inspiration, try decorating with memoribelia from your travels. I try to collect a map from each place I go to hang as a collage on my wall instead of a typical Pink Floyd poster.


Having your office in the same room as your bed can make it harder to stop your work and destress before going to sleep.  Keep your office space relaxed by adding some Zen - I love lighting some candles and I have a piece of bamboo to add a little life into the room (for a lot less money than fresh flowers).

Motivational music

Without all the hustle and bustle of working in an office, sitting at your home desk can seem pretty quiet. Find a good playlist that keeps you upbeat and motivated throughout the day to make remote work a little less lonely.


Even with crazy time differences, it is always possible to find a time to Skype your colleagues. Skype for Business makes you feel like you're a part of the team. Plus it's free of international charges that come with phone calls. Always make sure your voice is still heard.
Can't stay productive at home? Find a local coffee shop or library to study in! I found this one the other day that made me excited to come back and get to work:



A teacher’s journey with Skype in the Classroom

By Iro Stefopoulou as written on

The start of an inspiring adventure

In August 2013, while all my friends were enjoying the sea and the sun in Greece, I was spending the summer holidays in my new apartment getting ready for the next school year, trying to find new resources and ideas that would attract my students’ interest and motivate them. It was that summer that I discovered Skype in the Classroom. I immediately knew that I had struck gold and that this community would be life changing for my students and me as a teacher.

I started exploring the possibilities and was like a kid on Christmas day: Skype lessons, guest speakers, virtual field trips to places around the world and classroom projects and collaborations. What would that mean for my learners? How would it influence their learning experience? Could it transform the way students perceive the world? Would my students feel that they are part of a global learning community?

Going back to school that year, I was super excited about my new discovery that could virtually break down the walls of my classroom. I had searched the Skype in the Classroom lessons for days to decide where to begin, and settled on the Night Zookeeper’s lesson. I scheduled a Skype call to meet the person who would deliver the lesson and chatted with him for a while. I now feel really proud to call Paul Hutson the Night Zookeeper my friend as what he did for me and my students was unique, unforgettable and the stepping stone for what followed next.

During the rest of 2013, I used Skype every week. I started participating in global projects with my classes, making use of Skype in the Classroom to create a global environment for my students. At the end of that school year it was clear that my students had started thinking beyond the walls of our classroom and every connection or project they participated in was turning them into thinkers, leaders and doers. The borders of our small town seemed non-existent as we communicated in real time with schoolchildren from all over the world, doing various activities and projects together. Not only did my pupils practice their English (Greek is our first language), they also became citizens of the world, and learn about facts and problems concerning other communities, the natural world, traditions, customs and so much more.

Becoming a Skype Master Teacher

Throughout that first school year of using Skype in my classroom, I met countless teachers who have become friends and mentors. One of them, Dyane Smorokowski encouraged me to apply to become a Skype Master Teacher. I had no idea what it meant at the time but I decided to apply because I had a passion for global learning and the vision for providing my classroom with more opportunities.

Becoming a Skype Master Teacher, and joining this amazing group of innovative and game-changing educator pioneers, has allowed me to develop as a person and as an educator. It gave me to opportunity to collaborate with teachers from around the globe on several global projects that had a great impact on my students’ lives and changed their perspective and understanding of the world. I also started sharing best practices with other educators at conferences and delivering online professional development courses through Skype.

After joining this program, in addition to feeling excited and proud to be part of this amazing group of teachers from all around the globe, I felt that I belonged to a family. I can proudly say that I belong to a family of like-minded educators with whom I can share ideas, best practices, collaborate on projects and help each other when needed.

Join the Skype Master Teacher Program

We are really excited to announce that the Skype Master Teacher Program is opening its doors to even more teachers. Teachers who have been selected as Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts (MIEEs) can complete their self-nomination to join this program. MIE Experts are teachers work closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education. They advocate and share their thoughts on the effective use of technology in education with peers and policy makers, provide insight for Microsoft on new products and tools for education, and exchange best practices as they work together to promote innovation in teaching and learning. The self-nominations are open until September 15th.

What other Skype Master Teachers say about the SMT Program

“The Skype Master Teacher Program is special to me because it is about people who empower and impassion me. If I have an idea that I want to try or a project that I’m experimenting with, I know I can count on my SMT tribe to give me input or jump in with me. They are the risk-takers and change makers who make me a better teacher, and help me grow stronger as an educator.” – Gina Ruffcorn, MIEE, Skype Master Teacher, Iowa, USA

“I love being part of the SMT Program because it connects me with an amazing group of passionate educators who inspire me constantly.” – Steve Auslander, MIEE, Skype Master Teacher, Indianapolis, USA

“Being a part of the Skype Master Teacher Program has definitely made me a better teacher. This is a group of inspiring, innovative and supportive educators who are doing game-changing things for kids. Skype Master Teachers dream big for kids, and support each other to make dreams and ideas, big or small, a reality.” – Stacey Ryan, MIEE, Skype Master Teacher, Kansas, USA


Climbing 50 Peaks in 50 Days, Powered by Microsoft Technology

Melissa Arnot returns from record Everest climb to help protégé tackle 50 Peaks Challenge


By Vanessa Ho as written on
In May, Melissa Arnot became the first American woman to successfully climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. A month earlier, her good friend and business manager in Seattle, Christine Hass, had a baby.
After such life-changing feats, you might think the two of them would want a leisurely summer. Maybe hang out at the pool and do a little less after summiting 29,028 feet in brutal conditions on dangerously thin mountain air, or caring for a newborn day and night after giving birth.
But you’d be wrong. Instead, the women are now helping Arnot’s climbing protégé, Maddie Miller, tackle a new adventure called the 50 Peaks Challenge, which involves climbing the highest point in all 50 U.S. states in 50 days.


With Microsoft Band, Skype, Office and Surface empowering their journey, Arnot and Miller are now on a cross-country race against the clock in a camper van named “Tiffany,” with Hass providing support from her home office in Seattle. The epic road trip and expedition kicked off on June 27 when Miller summited 20,308-foot Denali in Alaska. She then flew to Florida to join Arnot, who sustained a cold-related foot injury on Everest and skipped Denali to recover and finalize logistics.
After quickly reworking their plans – part of their nimble nature in the business — the pair is now heading north and west, before flying to Hawaii for a final hike up Mauna Kea in Hawaii. If they’re successful, Miller will be the first woman to complete the challenge.

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For the trio, 50 Peaks is less about mountaineering and more about a powerful team working together to achieve goals, share a joy for adventure, and inspire others to accomplish great things. It’s a chance for Arnot, a renowned professional climbing guide, to mentor a younger athlete and share her vast mountaineering experience, which began at 19. She had quit an ad-writing job in Iowa, drove west and lived out of her truck to climb mountains.
“This year is really a year of mentorship, and it’s pretty special. It’s the most responsibility I’ve ever had in terms of teaching and caring for people,” says Arnot, who started her climbing business seven years ago. Earning success in a male-dominated industry, Arnot has summited Everest six times, led expeditions on three continents and climbed to the top of Mount Rainier more than a hundred times.
She has also supported others. This year, she guided a 13-year-old girl on climbs in Nepal for six weeks. She worked on her non-profit organization, The Juniper Fund, which helps families of Sherpas killed on Everest. And she’s been preparing Miller for 50 Peaks, on everything from gear to workouts to mental stamina. The two met in 2013, when Arnot guided Miller on a climb up Rainier as part of Miller’s high school graduation gift from her dad.

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“It’s been teaching her the skills to be technically ready, but also the skills to have the confidence in herself that she can do this,” Arnot says of 50 Peaks, which includes technical climbs, shorter hikes and six summits in a single day.
For Miller, the challenge is an opportunity to learn mountaineering and life skills from a thriving entrepreneur and world-class climber.
“Melissa is a really important person in my life, not just for guiding me up mountains,” says Miller, a 21-year-old Colorado College senior majoring in mathematical economics. “She’s taught me that women can achieve so much, and do so much, and there’s no limitation.”

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The essential, behind-the-scenes glue and magic of Arnot’s business, Infinity Expeditions, belongs to Hass, the group’s go-to, get-it-done executor. As an efficiency expert and administrative director of another company that specializes in wilderness medical care, Hass manages details and logistics. She deals with sponsors, clients, insurance, flights, budgets, media and Arnot’s many speaking engagements. She’s the doer to Arnot’s thinker and climber; when Arnot suggests a raffle to sell the van after 50 Peaks, Hass is thinking of three ways to accomplish it.
“I love being able to support [Arnot] and find success in making the business successful,” says Hass. “It is efficiency, the making things happen, the completion of a project.”
The pair has developed a winning formula for running a business, with Microsoft technology playing a major role. To train for Everest and other climbs — and encourage clients on their workouts — Arnot uses Microsoft Band, which tracks heart rate, mileage and elevation.


Because she works remotely much of the time, she and Hass need seamless tools to keep in touch, scale the business and collaborate efficiently from different parts of the world. For that, they turned to Microsoft’s cloud and Skype for Business, which enables dial-in access (handy for calling in from a big mountain). They save, share and edit emergency plans, the 50 Peaks schedule and other important content in OneNote. And they use Office Lens to scan receipts and avoid the end-of-trip headache of paper piles.
The team includes Melissa Arnot (center) and her best friend plus business manager Christine Hass (right), who is also a new mom. Arnot is coaching Maddie Miller (left), who has taken time from college to complete the 50 peaks adventure.
Everything is done on the light-weight, high-performance Surface Pro 4 — particularly useful when Arnot is 17,600 feet in the air at Everest’s base camp, where every ounce counts.
“Using a lot of different pieces of technology to keep us all connected is probably one of the biggest things that’s helpful for me,” Hass says of 50 Peaks.
The adventure is the latest in a series of expeditions marked by both elation and tragedy, including the 2010 death of one of Arnot’s climbing partners, the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal and two years of deadly avalanches on Everest.
Through it all, the women have supported each other in an extreme sport that’s often nomadic, isolating and tough on friendships. After the deaths, Arnot returned to the U.S. each time to grieve in Hass’ home. After Hass became a new mom this year, she Skyped Arnot in Nepal to introduce her newborn daughter. They’ve been able to bridge distance and time zones through technology.
“When we were both 20-something-years-old and started this friendship and business together, I never could have imagined that this would be our lives,” says Arnot. As she reviewed her itinerary and massive amounts of gear with Hass in the final days before 50 Peaks, she was grateful for the support.
“Getting ready for this huge challenge of climbing 50 peaks in 50 days, I know that there’s no way I could have done that without Christine,” Arnot says. “We’re stronger together.”


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