Category: Lync Mobile

Update on the iOS “Missing Message” Bug

Last October I reviewed the Skype for Business iOS client. Three readers commented about a bug they experienced while using it.

“Whenever I miss a conversation (why is it missed?) I can see the first few words of the message I missed but when I click on it, I can’t see the rest. I can never see the full message. Where does it go?”

“Nearly every day, I will see that I had a message come in, and I will only see the first few words. “Hey, Liza! It’s really important that we—” and then when I tap into the conversation, it’s gone. Unrecoverable.”

“I have the same frustrating problem — I will miss a message, but when I go to open it I can only see the first few words followed by “…”, then I click on it and it brings me to a new message screen. I can never see my missed messages, which is the whole point of having this app in the first place.”

I promised to investigate, and so I did. Unfortunately, I don’t have many answers.

Three Parts Investigate, Only One Part Success

I took three paths to investigate the missing-message issue.

  1. Examine app reviews for other user impressions,
  2. Do some more support research, and
  3. Try to duplicate this in our office.

First up, review. How widespread is the issue? How many people does this affect? I checked reviews on the App Store and Microsoft-related forums, like this one: iOS Client for Skype for Business 2015 – SkypeFeedback.com

“Missed messages vanishing” is mentioned in both places. As are other sync issues such as voicemail. In fact the limitations are clearly wearing on iOS users. Makes me wonder how the new Mac client will turn out after the preview releases.

Research: From the bug description, it sounds like a failure of Server-Side Conversation History. Which informed my search. Is your Conversation History fully enabled? If you’re not sure, here’s how to check: Enable Server Side Conversation History – Martin Boam’s Microsoft UC Blog

I did find this note on an Office Support page:

“Note: Conversations that were accepted on other Skype for Business (Lync) clients but were missed on your mobile device don’t appear in the Chats tab.”

Might explain some instances of this happening. I’m sure it doesn’t explain all, though. It didn’t explain mine!

Duplication: I was logged into Skype4B on my iPhone, but answered a new message on my laptop. Sure enough, I saw a “Missed” conversation on my phone’s Chats tab. And it contained the message contents when I checked it 15 minutes later. Hmmm.

Skype for Business iOS Missed Message

In fact I could not duplicate the “missed message” issue no matter what. We tried two other iPhones, one 5 and two 6s in total. I even removed the Skype for Business client and reinstalled fresh.

We definitely have a bug here. But it’s not consistent.

Is the Bug Already Updated?

Skype for Business on iOS received updates recently – the latest of which came on May 2 (described as “general bug fixes”). My client automatically updated before I tested for the missing-message bug. So did the other iPhones I tried. This might be the reason why I didn’t have any trouble.

(By the way, I mentioned in the review that you couldn’t see a contact’s Contact Card in the iOS client. You can now–just tap a contact and tap their name. You’ll see a “See Contact Card” option drop down.)

iOS Contact with Contact Card

I know losing a message for any reason is frustrating. Right now, the best I can do is advise a safer practice:

  1. Use the iOS client for calls and meeting reminders. Unfortunately, this bug means it’s a bit unreliable when it comes to Instant Messaging. Still works, yes, but if you want to share important information with colleagues, use the Call button.
  2. Update your iOS client to the latest version, and keep it updated. Even general bug fixes can have a big help.

If you’ve updated your Skype for Business iOS client to the latest version, do you still see the “missing messages” bug? Please comment or email me your experience. If Microsoft fixed this bug, then we’re all a bit better off! If not, the bug needs reporting.

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A Refreshing Walk Through Lync 2013 for iPhone

Last week I said I’d do some reviews for Lync and Skype on mobile devices. Good way to know which features are available – and which we need in Skype for Business’ mobile apps.

I’ll start out with Lync 2013 for iPhone.

Now, full disclosure: I don’t use the Lync 2013 client on my iPhone often. I have my laptop for day-to-day work conversations. (It’s a Lenovo Ultrabook–instant Windows 8 tablet with a button-press.) Lync forwards after-hours calls to my phone. Worked so far.

So, this is a bit of a refresher for me too. Haven’t used Lync 2013 on an iPhone before? Join me in exploration!

Logging In

Important Note! This client is used for Lync Online and for Lync 2013 users. Since I’m the latter, I had to enter my username in the proper domain format. You’ll see a reminder of this in the client.
lyncphone-login

As always, your login username/password conventions may differ slightly.

Reviews on this Lync client vary widely. The App Store has plenty of good and bad in the Reviews section. While I go through the features, I’ll mention frequent complaints I found therein.

What Works

Ostensibly, Lync 2013 for iPhone can do everything the desktop version can do, with a few exceptions:

  • Managing contact groups
  • Share Desktop/Program
  • Use of meeting tools (the whiteboard, controlling PowerPoint, etc.)
  • Manage team calls & call Response Groups

(Full Mobile Client Comparison tables are here: Mobile Client Comparison Tables for Lync 2013)

But the main functions – calls, IM, meetings – are front and center. I tested them all and had no problems.

lyncphone-phone1

Lync calls went out, and were received, just fine. So does IM (in fact I may have annoyed a couple co-workers today). My Outlook calendar appointments also come up under the Meetings tab, nice and clear.

What’s Not Right

App Store reviews mention that cell calls will interrupt Lync calls. I asked a co-worker to call my cell from his while I spoke with another co-worker via Lync. It didn’t interrupt; the cell call went to voicemail. Could be our configuration, but I wanted to note that I didn’t duplicate the interruption reviewers mentioned.

However, other mentioned errors did turn up. A review from November mentioned that chats “randomly disappear” and “so do missed conversations.”

I found this to be true on my phone. Here’s my Chats screen:
lyncphone-chats1
Only one conversation, right? Wrong. I had another IM chat via this phone, less than 2 weeks ago. Where is it? Nowhere – not on my phone, not in my Conversation History in Outlook.

Two Conversation Histories – Laptop and Phone?

Then a curious thing happened. While logged into Lync on my phone, I received an IM. The client buzzed at me…but the IM window opened on my laptop. Where I was also logged into Lync 2013.

Why? Well, I was typing on my laptop at the time. Not in Lync, but on the same machine. Lync interpreted me as being active “here” and sent the IM to the respective client.

I wrote about this behavior 2 years ago: Doubling Up: Does Lync Allow Multiple Logins?
(Please do note Peter J.’s comment and my own response for all the details.)

This isn’t so much “not right” as “open for improvement”. Nothing wrong with funneling a conversation to the Lync client with the most-recently-active system!

However, this made me think of a would-be-nice for the Skype for Business iPhone client…access to full Conversation History within the client. I don’t know how many times I’ve consulted Conversation History for dates, numbers, etc. If I could do that on my phone & find conversations from my laptop? Major timesaver.

This is already noted as missing in Microsoft’s documentation:

“The conversation history on Lync for iPhone is not synced with Microsoft Exchange. This means that conversations that occur on your Lync mobile device will only be displayed on that device’s conversation history and nowhere else. Also, when you delete a conversation on your mobile device, that conversation is permanently deleted.”

Limitations Aside, Lync 2013 is Good to Have on the iPhone

Are there issues with Lync 2013 for iPhone? It appears so. I did not experience an app crash, as several reviewers reported, but I don’t doubt they did have Lync crash on them.

That said, having a Lync 2013 app is an overall benefit to users. As I review other mobile clients, I’ll see how they stack up to Lync 2013 for iPhone.

Hmmm, maybe I should “borrow” my co-worker’s Android phone next…

What do you think? Would full Conversation History access on your phone help your work? Please comment or email your thoughts. And check back next week for more reviews!

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Lync on Linux: How to Access Lync Services from Linux Computers

In my post on MindLink Anywhere last week, I mentioned that one big value-add from the software was its ability to work on Linux. Options for accessing Lync services on Linux are limited. Though in the past couple years they’ve improved a lot, both in number and quality.

What else is available for “Lync on Linux”? Let’s take a look and see what’s out there.

Running Lync Server 2013 on a Linux Server? No. But you can access it from Linux computers.

Unless you install Windows Server in a VM, this isn’t happening. Lync Server 2013 is intended for Windows Servers. Which makes sense, honestly – Unified Communications hooks into Exchange and SharePoint, also Windows-platform servers. If Lync ran on Linux, it would do so in an underperforming state, users unable to take full advantage of its capabilities.

Fortunately, this does not mean Linux users are completely in the cold! There are ways to access Lync’s services on Linux desktops and mobile devices.

Linux Lync Clients

Sadly, there is no native Lync client for the Linux desktop. You must use third-party products to connect with Lync. Only a couple of them exist as yet.

Judging from my research, the most popular choice is Pidgin. Makes sense – one of the most reliable, full-featured IM platforms on Linux. Adding Lync to Pidgin? Just one more service.

Choose from any of the following blog posts to install Lync into Pidgin:

  1. Microsoft Lync on Linux – GeekySchmidt.com
  2. Configuring Pidgin to work with Lync server in Arch Linux – I Fix Therefore I Am
  3. Add a Lync/Office Communicator Account to Pidgin/Ubuntu – ITSwapShop.com
  4. Setting Pidgin Up for Lync 2013 – AskUbuntu.comWync-Logo

No matter the method, you may have to deal with limitations when using Lync through Pidgin. Commenters have claimed everything from having to manually add contacts, to voice and video chat not working.

Another third-party client usable for Lync on Linux is Wync, made by Fisil. Wync is actually designed to work with Lync, and Fisil does offer support. Most functions work – Voice, IM/Chat, Screen Sharing and File Transfer.

I was only able to test it out briefly, but Wync was stable and made clear calls. (Tested on Ubuntu 32-bit desktop.) It’s great to see an actual Lync client available on Linux systems!

Lync Web App

Works, but only for attending Lync Meetings by default. No voice, video or IM.

Important distinction here: If you’re running Lync Server 2010, you will need Silverlight to run the Lync Web App. Silverlight is Windows-only. But there is a Linux version of Silverlight, called Moonlight.

Here’s an AskUbuntu discussion to help you work out Lync 2010 Web App with Moonlight. You should find Moonlight in your repository of choice…but if it’s not there, try these direct downloads: Moonlight for Chrome & Firefox.

If you’re running Lync Server 2013, Lync Web App does not require Silverlight. However, expect a very limited experience on a Linux desktop (if it works at all).

Android

I’ve heard people say that the #1 operating system in the world is actually Android–a Linux distribution. If so, Microsoft really should spend more effort on its Lync Mobile client for Android. The reviews are full of problem reports!

That said, I’m glad the client at least exists and is supported directly by Microsoft. Android isn’t poised to go anywhere but up, and I want a good solid version of Lync available to its users.

Lync Online on Linux?

Using Lync Online? You’ll still face the same problems as above. Fortunately, the same solutions also work. If you use Lync Online in a Linux environment, I’d say try Wync first, and then Pidgin. See which one works better for your day-to-day.

Here’s a blog post on how to get Pidgin working with Lync, specifically focused on using Office 365: Configuring Pidgin Instant Messenger for Office 365 LYNC – VincentPassaro.com

What About Skype?

There is a version of Skype available for Linux, so at least our Skype brothers & sisters are OK. A little better off than Lync users…at least for now.

If anything, this could be a positive sign for future versions. Depending on the upgrade path Microsoft takes for Lync & Skype integration, we may have ourselves a Lync client (or at least a Lync-friendly client) on Linux soon.

Linux Alternatives to Lync Server

What’s that? You only use Linux on your company’s servers? Well, I’m afraid it could be a while before you can enjoy Lync Server’s capabilities (if ever). But fear not! Alternatives do exist. None are quite the same as Lync, but they can give you the necessary communications tools.

Here are 3 popular Linux/open-source alternatives:

  • Avaya: Avaya has the Aura Platform for a VoIP, chat & video offering.
  • Twilio: Twilio is a cloud-based voice and text product suite that’s quite highly reviewed. Useful on the phone side, though not as full-featured as Lync.
  • Asterisk: Asterisk is a framework for building powerful communications systems. As I understand it, several enterprises have used Asterisk to build their own custom phone systems.

Of these, if I had to recommend a Lync Server alternative to a Linux-using business, I’d recommend Asterisk. Then Avaya.e00cb7b29fc9f70724e906d87e4e4dbf-tux-penguin-clip-art

Lync is Making its Way Onto Linux

While PlanetMagpie is a Microsoft shop and supports all Microsoft servers (not just Lync Server), sometimes I like to see how Linux is doing in comparison. It’s encouraging that there’s this much development regarding Lync. More is sure to come, both within the Linux community and from official channels. (Okay, mostly from the Linux community.)

Does your office use Linux and Lync? How do you make it work for you? I’d like to hear your experiences.

Next week, more reader inquiries! Join us then.

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External Lync 2013 Users Need a 2013 Edge Server to Use Mobility Services

A Lync Insider reader emailed me the other day, asking about Mobility Services. His external users couldn’t log in using Lync Mobile, and he wasn’t sure why.

After reviewing what he said, I thought it sounded similar to a problem we encountered during the Moving to Lync Server 2013 process.

The Problem: Everything’s Working, Except Mobility Services for External Users

The reader (let’s call him Bob) runs Lync Server 2010 Standard Edition. A 2010 Front End pool and a 2010 Edge Server, in place and properly configured. Voice, video, chat, mobility services, and federation all work fine.

Bob introduces a Lync Server 2013 Front End server in a new pool, in co-existence mode. Following configuration, Bob finds that just about everything is–still working fine!

Except for one thing. A Lync 2013 user, when signing in externally with Lync Mobile, experiences an error. Can’t Connect to Server. It may be busy or unavailable.

What’s going on here? Bob checks his Edge Server. DNS and push settings are configured. Internal Lync users on both Lync 2010 and Lync 2013 have no issues. External users can use voice and video.

It’s just Mobility Services which aren’t working on the Lync 2013 server. Why not?

The Solution: A 2013 Edge Server is Needed

In Part 7 of the Moving to Lync Server 2013 series, I mentioned a change we made after implementing the 2013 Edge Server:

“Larry also pointed the 2010 topology to the 2013 Edge server. External DNS must point to new Edge only. The new Edge Server (provided DNS is updated) will work for both 2013 and 2010 users.”

Here is the solution for Bob’s problem.

You do need a 2013 Edge Server to fully use Mobility Services. The new Mobility Services in 2013 is designed to take tablets into account; Lync 2010 didn’t have that functionality native. (Cumulative Updates did allow for tablet support, but it’s better-supported in Lync Server 2013.)

We encountered a Lync Mobile error similar to Bob’s while troubleshooting the 2013 Edge. Even though most of our users still used Lync 2010 clients, we moved all users from the 2010 Edge Server to the new 2013 Edge Server.

Everyone’s Lync clients worked without a hitch, irrespective of platform, after that. Including Lync Mobile.

Bob thought he’d just missed a settings tweak. He didn’t; in fact, he’d done a very thorough job on his topology. What he was missing was an additional Edge Server. With that in place, Mobility Services for Lync 2013 works!

If you’re planning to use Co-Existence Mode to transition from Lync Server 2010 to Lync Server 2013, take note. A 2013 Edge Server is critical to begin transitioning Lync users. Not to mention mobile access.

Have you encountered a mobility error like this? Let’s discuss!

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