Category: lync server 2010

Lync Usage Poll Results

Short post this week – We have a major site launch in the works, and another coming up right after it.

But I promised to return to the Lync usage poll I put up 2 weeks ago. So, here we are! I have some good results from the poll, and some reflection on your votes. Here are the poll results:

POLL – What type of Lync Server do you use?
Lync Server 2010 (On-Premise) – 7 votes
Lync Server 2013 (On-Premise) – 29 votes
Lync Server 2013 (Hosted) – 0 votes
Lync Online – 1 vote
OCS 2007 – 1 vote (write-in)

Thank you to everyone who did vote. I will leave the poll up here if you didn’t get a chance before.

Lync Server Usage: 2013 Most Popular, Some Surprises Between On-Premise and Online

That Lync Server 2013 (On-Premise) was #1 makes sense to me. It’s the latest version, with many more capabilities than the other choices.

I didn’t expect someone to write in OCS 2007 though. Lone reader/voter, I’d love to know why you’re still using it. Upgrade hassle? Does it fulfill a proprietary need? Please comment or email me!

I’m also a little surprised by the number of Lync Server 2010 users. I actually thought the numbers would be a little more even between 2010 on-premise and 2013 on-premise.

It’s one of those situations where I’m glad to be wrong! While Lync 2010 was a good system and had a lot of appeal, 2013 is much more powerful & flexible. The upgrade path isn’t as scary as some people have mentioned to me.

Zero votes for the Lync Server 2013 (Hosted) option makes me think I should have clarified that a bit more. By this I mean running a full-version Lync Server 2013 instance, in a hosted/cloud data center. You get the full power of Lync Server, but without installing extra servers on-site. We actually do this for a couple of customers now, via our Private Cloud Service.  Hope that didn’t confuse anyone!

Lastly, Lync Online. Only 1 voter for Microsoft’s Office 365 service. Given the rancor posted to NextHop about Lync Online’s service quality, this doesn’t surprise me either.

That said, I suppose now’s a good time to explain why we don’t recommend it to most businesses.

As I mentioned in “Lync Blogs are Disappearing,” on-premises Lync Server has more options & more power than Lync Online. Though we may see PSTN calling added to Lync Online soon, we don’t know when. And there are other capabilities Lync Server 2013 has which we may never see in Lync Online.

The same is true of Office 2013 overall vs. the Office 365 offerings. Many people will never use Word’s more advanced functions, but they’re there nonetheless.

I don’t blame anyone for wanting to save money up-front. In that respect, Office 365 seems appealing. However, its regular billing adds up over time. In the long term, you’re paying a lot for decreased capacity.

The only time I WOULD recommend Office 365/Lync Online is for a small-but-growing business who wants to temporarily test out the Lync communications system. In this case, Office 365 becomes a useful stepping stone into a full-version Lync Server implementation. Would it work for your business? Well, here’s a way to find out!

Again, thanks to everyone who voted. I will put up more polls in the future, so you can be heard more often. As always, the Lync Insider Blog welcomes feedback & questions!

Next time (provided I have enough time to make a solid post on it) we’ll discuss using Lync Server as an alternative to LogMeIn. Don’t forget to sign up for email reminders in the right column, so you won’t miss out!


How to Encourage Lync Users to Use More Than Just IM

The other day I was talking to some friends. The discussion turned to blogs. I mentioned this blog; one of my friends said her office used Lync (still on 2010 though).

I asked her what she liked about it, thinking there might be a good post or case study in the making here.

She said, “I don’t really use much of it. Just the IM.”

Questioning further, I found that her office used Lync Instant Messaging for most inter-department conversations. Presence was secondary in terms of use, and making phone calls out was a distant third. I’m not even sure if they knew Group Chat existed!

Naturally, this got me thinking. If Lync Server is set up with all these great communications tools, and nobody uses them, what good are they?

4 ways to encourage users toward using Lync for communication

If you’re a sysadmin or IT manager, it’s your job to make sure users are educated about what tools are available to them. Allow me to assist!

If you need to encourage further Lync adoption, here are 4 ideas to help. You can use any or all of these, depending on your office environment.

Educate your users with a visual display of Lync’s full capabilities. The key here is ‘visual.’ Hold a conference call and give a short presentation on Lync’s services. Send an email around once a month “highlighting” one Lync tool at a time. Maybe hold a contest to see who can use all the services in one day. Be creative!

Use them yourself to contact co-workers. I know, many of us prefer to do our day-to-day work via email (I’m guilty too!). Set an example (at least temporarily) by making use of other Lync tools. For instance, loop a manager and an employee into a conference call, and add in a whiteboard as a “creative space.” If talking with someone via IM, suggest opening a Group Chat/Persistent Chat so you can show the log to someone else later.

The more users are exposed to Lync tools this way, the more curious they’ll be.

Collect blog posts & reference guides, and give out the URLs anytime someone asks about Lync. If you’re stirring curiosity, people will ask questions. This way, you’ll have reading material for anyone asking questions about what Lync can do for them.

Here’s a modest sampling of links you can start with:

Make sure all mobile workers have Lync Mobile installed & working. You can always call them through Lync this way to build awareness. Plus they’ll have a new app on their phone – curiosity will get them eventually!

Successfully encouraged users into Lync? Tell us!

Have you successfully incorporated Lync communications tools into daily operations? Let’s hear about how you did it!

I’d like to showcase some administrators who rolled out successful adoptions. Please leave your stories in the comments, or email me.

(No last names will be shared, and your company will not be mentioned if you don’t want me to.)

Future Lync Insider posts will have whatever insights we have to share. Until then, see you next time!


Can You Change Lync's Incoming Call Popup?

A reader I’ll call “Mr. BV” emailed last week. He asked if there was a way to change the ‘Incoming Call’ popup Lync displays.

This popup is called the “Toast”.  Normally it displays basics: name, number, etc.  Mr. BV was interested in displaying some additional details about the caller in the Toast popup.

Hmmm, could we do this? I did some research to find out. But as far as I can tell, directly modifying the Toast popup is not permitted in Lync.

Why Can’t We Modify Toast?

This inability is a little puzzling. It’s all digital information, right? Calls come to Lync through VoIP, so the caller ID data IS available. Why not display full contact details by default, or at least allow for modification to add them in?

However, I can think of one good reason not to: Phone systems are not consistent.

Not all phones are VoIP. Varying systems & standards exist for voice communication throughout the world. There’s a lot of consistency built in, of course. Otherwise people couldn’t call a PBX from their cellphone, or make an overseas call from Lync.

But without some universal standard, picking contact details from an incoming call is not guaranteed to retrieve the same details every time.

What if Lync can determine an incoming caller’s name, but they don’t have the company name? What should the Lync Server do? Ignore the call? Fail to display the Toast popup due to insufficient data?

Any hesitation or failure to display could result in a missed or lost call. Thus defeating Lync’s purpose.

I think this is why the Lync SDK doesn’t allow direct modification of the Toast popup.

What CAN You Do? Two Options

That doesn’t meant there’s nothing you can do with Toast.

During research, I came across two possibilities for modifying Lync *around* call popups.

1. Create a second Popup. Using Lync’s SDK, you can create a secondary popup to activate whenever Toast pops up. THIS popup you can configure all you want, displaying whatever details are available. I’ve seen multiple comments saying this in Lync support forums. However none had specific directives on how to go about it. I looked, but came up dry.

I’m sure there’s an answer in the SDK documentation:
Lync 2010 SDK Documentation
Lync 2013 SDK Documentation

I will keep looking for more on this one. SDK-related posts are overdue on the Lync Insider.

2. Third-Party Add-ons. Matt Landis posted about a couple third-party Lync extenders, SuperToast and LyncPopper. I think I referenced SuperToast the other day; it’s an add-on that creates additional notifications if you miss a conversation. (Geared mostly toward IM.)

The SuperToast download page is:

Sadly, this means I must give Mr. BV some bad news. His query about changing the Toast popup’s contents when you receive a new call just won’t work. (Today at least; maybe in the future we’ll be able to modify it.) But there are ways to extend the popup if you really want to.

But at the same time: Lync is extremely open to modifications, through the Management Console, PowerShell and its SDK. Inability to modify one minor aspect does not take away from Lync’s overall utility.

Have you coded an addition to Lync’s Toast popup? Please share your ideas in a comment!


Deadlines! No Post Today

We’ve been really busy lately. Which is great – new sites to build, new Lync systems to architect, and more besides.

Unfortunately, this means I’m head-down on a few projects, and my loyal Lync Insider readers will have to wait a bit longer for the next post. Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day, you have good work to do, and you’ll be back here next time!


Persistent Chat: What it Is and How You Use It (Part 1 of 2)

While talking with our Lync team about training subjects to cover, I realized I hadn’t blogged about Chat in a while. And I should! It’s a very useful part of Lync Server (especially in 2013).

So, this will be the first of a double-post on Persistent Chat. The first post will go over what persistent chat is, and what’s been changed from Group Chat in Lync Server 2010. The second post will cover how to use Persistent Chat’s chat rooms, as well as some potential roles these chat rooms can play in your organization.

Ready? Open up Lync and let’s go!

Persistent Chat: Group Chat’s Stronger Successor

Last year I posted a ‘Group Chat 101’, saying Group Chat “provides text-based chat rooms where chats are recorded and searchable.”

Persistent Chat for Lync Server 2013 is still centered around this idea of recorded chat rooms. But it’s received some upgrades from the 2010 version.

Persistent Chat lets you create Chat Rooms within the Lync client. These Chat Rooms are spaces where you and other Lync users can share information. This information is archived in the Chat Room log. In the future, if you or someone else needs to refer to that information, they can look up the Chat Room log. And if necessary, update it with new information. Which is again archived for future reference.

Okay, so how is Persistent Chat different from Group Chat then?

The upgrades came in the form of integration. Group Chat was a separate download from Lync Server 2010. You had to use a separate client for chatting, too. Within the client you created a Chat Room, which users joined like they would a multiparty IM. Except Group Chat logs were accessible to everyone (who had proper permissions).

For those of you who used IRC (Internet Relay Chat), Group Chat was almost identical. But that same functionality also meant Group Chat was a less flexible, less dynamic communication tool than Lync’s Instant Messaging.

With Persistent Chat, a lot changed. Persistent Chat is now an included server role in Lync Server 2013. Install it via Topology Builder during Lync setup. (For a how-to, visit Matt Landis’ blog: Step by Step Installing Lync Server 2013 Persistent Chat Collocated on Standard Edition Front End – Windows PBX & UC Blog)

Chat Room functionality is also built into the Lync 2013 desktop client. You can access chat rooms as easily as you do IM.
Lync Nav Bar-Chat Rooms

See? It’s right there on Lync’s top nav bar, between Contacts and Conversation History.

Create a chat room in Lync, or access existing rooms (those you have permission to access, of course!). I’ll cover specifics on how to use chat rooms in the next post.

Right now, you may be wondering something.

“Why would we use Persistent Chat in the first place? It sounds a lot like IM already!”

Both are text-based conversations, yes. Both allow for multiple users to chat, share links or files, and so on. But Instant Message and Persistent Chat aren’t quite the same. And it’s their differences that make Persistent Chat valuable.

See, IM is a LIVE conversation. If someone’s offline, you can’t talk with them. Also, IM logs are stored locally, in your own Conversation History. If you want to review a conversation someone else had, you’ll have to ask them to send you the log. You can’t access it on your own.

IM conversations are, essentially, private. Persistent Chat conversations are not.

How are non-private chat logs valuable? Because Persistent Chat logs turn a business conversation into an information asset for everyone. Think of a chat log like notes from a meeting – valuable insight from those events, captured for everyone’s future reference.

Sounds pretty valuable to me!

Next post, I’ll show you how to use Persistent Chat in Lync, and list some potential uses you can derive from it. See you then!

Do you currently use Persistent Chat or Group Chat? What do you use it for the most?


Can you IM 5 people at once – without Using Multiparty IM?

I admit to being stumped. Not only regarding a solution to today’s question, but I’m also stumped as to why it’s necessary.

The other day I received an email from a consultant. They were asked to create a means by which a Lync user could IM multiple people at once. WITHOUT starting a conference or using Multiparty IM.

Did I know of a way to do this?

Multiparty IM without the Multiparty? Why?

The only way I can think to IM multiple people outside of a group conversation, is to just IM each person separately. That would take a little time, sending one IM after one IM. But it’s doable without any programming.

I don’t think Lync would respond well to multiparty IM, without the multiparty. Even with good coding. The Lync client depends on your IM conversations grouping, as this makes it easy for any user to add extra services (audio, video, app sharing).

I was curious though…if you could code a Lync process to IM multiple people at once, what form would it take?

The only thing I can think of, would be to code a PowerShell script to auto-open separate IM windows for users you select.

(Except you can do this now, without PowerShell. Just double-click on each user in your contacts list. Lync Server 2013 will load each IM into a separate tab in its Conversation Window. To send each person a message, just type it into their IM window.)

Coding Privacy into Private IM Conversations – Much Ado About Nothing?

The reason given for this was stated as security. In theory, excluding other Lync users from seeing a particular Instant Message would act like BCC in email.

Don’t get me wrong. Security IS important, especially during communications. But the thing is, an ordinary IM conversation between two people is already private! There’s no inherent need for extra separation.

I’m NOT passing judgment on the person who contacted me. They were asked to create this functionality, and came up dry on possible methods. Why they were asked, I’m not sure…but it’s not their fault!

Perhaps someone has a need to separate IMs for compliance with an internal process. Or they want to IM multiple people at once, to use for announcement purposes.

Either way, I’m baffled.

So I’m opening this post up to the Lync community. Have you ever encountered a desire for multiple simultaneous Instant Messages, without creating a multiparty IM conversation?

If so, how would you code a solution?


Upgrading the Polycom CX700 Phone to Lync Phone Edition CU7

The Polycom CX700 phone ships with version 7577.4100 of the Lync Phone Edition operating system. It’s an older version, from OCS days.

You can still use this phone with Lync Server 2010 and 2013, by installing the latest version of Lync Phone Edition.

However, attempting to upgrade it via the direct route fails. Turns out there’s an error in its upgrade path.

We encountered this error, and after some online research plus talking to Microsoft, came to the solution. Here it is, for your future reference!

The Problem: CX700 Won’t Allow Upgrades OR Login

Like all Polycom phones, the CX700’s OS is upgradeable. We found out about the latest version of Lync Phone Edition, Cumulative Update 7 (CU7). Hey, new version! Let’s upgrade!

Except we couldn’t. We tried logging into the phone for upgrading…and failed. The phone stalled, eventually giving us a Certificate Authentication Error.

Why would the phone resist upgrading? Were we missing a setting? Did we have the wrong process?

Time to find out. To the Internet!

The Solution: CX700 Requires CU5 Before CU7

Thanks to a call to Microsoft and one of Jeff Schertz’s excellent blog posts, we discovered the problem. It’s an error between version upgrades of Lync Phone Edition. Microsoft has not listed this error on their websites, but they will confirm the error exists if asked.

In order to upgrade to CU7, you must first install a prior update, Cumulative Update (CU5). Once CU5 is installed, the CX700 will recognize CU7 as a valid upgrade path for its OS, and the install will go through.

Jeff Schertz, a Lync Server MVP and blogger at http://Blog.Schertz.Name, has posted an explanation and workaround for the CU5-to-CU7 upgrade issue:
Lync Phone Edition CU6 Upgrade Issues – Jeff Schertz’s Blog

(His post discusses upgrading to CU6. The same process can be used for CU7.)

You must manually install CU5 to the phone, and verify its certificate, before attempting to install CU7. The steps for doing are listed in “Workaround” on the above-linked blog post.

(Using this process, you can even skip upgrading to CU6 and use CU7 instead.)

CU5 Not Available for Download at Microsoft; Download the Update File Below

Lync Phone Edition CU7 is available from Microsoft Support. However, Microsoft does not have CU5 posted on their Downloads site anymore! If you search for it, you will find a CU5 KB page. But clicking Download will give you a copy of CU7 instead.

Unfortunately, this is standard Microsoft practice. But it leaves all of us in the lurch on these phones!

Jeff Schertz again came to the rescue. He posted the CU5 download file (in .cab format) on his blog. In order to continue the goodwill, we’re offering the same file for download here:


So there you have it. Download Lync Phone Edition CU5, install it on your CX700s following the Schertz procedure, and THEN you can upgrade the phones to CU7. It’s a workaround, yes. But for now, it does accomplish the goal.

Have you upgraded your Lync-enabled phones? How’d it go?


Cloud Connect 2013 – Report from the Expo Hall

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Cloud Connect event in Santa Clara. They hold an Expo for 2 days (basic registration is free), workshops & conferences.Cloud Connect 2013

Now wait a second. Why would a Lync expert go to a Cloud Computing expo?

  • I like to learn about the latest cloud services. Since Lync can run entirely on virtualized servers, hosting it in the cloud is a great way for companies to start using Lync without paying for lots of on-site hardware. (We’re already doing this via our own Private Cloud Service!) So it makes sense to be aware of the major players (and the upstarts) in the cloud arena. What they’re offering now, and what’s coming.
  • Networking. Always good to meet up with fellow IT pros. Hear some stories, discuss trends. Sometimes I meet good partners for us, or I can point people in a useful direction (like here!).
  • Prizes! Last year I won an iPad 2 from the OpSource booth (now Dimension Data). I figure that increases my odds of winning something this year too!

Results of Wandering in the Cloud (Connect)

Expos like Cloud Connect are prime example of sharing information via ALL channels. Lot of people are on twitter while moving through the expo (hashtag #cloudconnect). Networking took place in the lobby & the halls as well as the expo hall. There’s printed datasheets and transferred files aplenty.

This year, they had more discussion about PaaS and IaaS. Cloud providers have solidified their offerings in replacing on-site servers. With just a few of the exhibitors’ solutions, you could build an entire business network from email to desktop.

I went in with two main questions to answer:
“Where is Cloud going?” and
“How is the Lync Server awareness among the cloud crowd?”

These are the answers I came away with.

Where is cloud going?
Cloud is expanding its presence like crazy. The number of major players – Rackspace, VMWare, Citrix, OnApp – is only growing. What’s more, cloud providers are sharpening their focus. No longer is it just, “We host a cloud.”

Now it’s, “This is how our clouds are built, with your chosen elements in place. These options are customizable, we can host software in a hybrid deployment, and here’s some examples of how it’s done.”

Some of the exhibits had very specific software: Racemi, for example, offered software to automate migrations of server software into the cloud.

How was the general Lync Server awareness?
Actually quite low. Many of the exhibitors offered solutions for higher (OS, network routing) or lower (data storage) IT systems. Many of the solutions will accommodate Lync Server nicely – smart infrastructure management hardware from OpenGear, carrier-neutral data centers run by TelecityGroup in Europe.

The biggest issue was that many of these cloud providers didn’t support the necessary Microsoft software to host Lync!

In a way, I like that. It means many of these big cloud players are catering to one area of demand – non-Microsoft systems. Less competition for us! And there’s still plenty of solid development for cloud overall.

Big thanks to all the exhibitors with whom I spoke, and to Cloud Connect for putting this event on! Hmmm, wonder what I’ll win this year…
That’s all for this week, folks! Check back next time for more Lync how-to. I have a few write-ups in the works on issues with VoIP phones and Web App Server.

Did you go to Cloud Connect? What did you want to see there?


Doubling Up: Does Lync Allow Multiple Logins?

My first reader email of 2013 contained a question about receiving Instant Messages. Specifically, he asked if he could use Lync IM on his iPhone and his laptop at the same time.

He was asking if multiple simultaneous logins are possible for Lync – signing in with your account on more than 1 computer. And receiving IMs to both locations.

I told him that Lync Server 2010 does not support multiple logins. But I would check to see if Lync Server 2013 can support this. Here’s what I found.

Why would you want multiple logins in Lync?

Unless you have a mysterious power to be in two places at once, multiple logins for communications software like Lync Server seems unnecessary. Lync treats your latest login as the ‘active’ one, whether that’s on your phone on your desktop. Since, presumably, that’s where you are!

However, I can think of one *good* reason to want multiple logins:  Conversation History. In case one client isn’t recording IM conversations properly, or you want multiple copies of a conversation.

(If one of your devices isn’t recording your IM conversations properly, this is a setup issue. Tell your systems administrator.)

Multiple Login Workarounds for Lync Server 2010

Sadly, I must repeat: Lync Server 2010 does NOT support multiple logins for one user. The reason is simple: each user can only have a single SIP address.

However, some workarounds DO exist to facilitate multiple connections.

While looking for reference links to show my reader, I came across this TechNet Forum thread: Lync Multiple & Simultaneous Account Login

Here we find a response from Matt Landis (if you’ve been reading Lync Insider, you know I’ve pointed Matt out as an excellent Lync specialist in the past!). He lists out some workaround solutions–and cautions that not all of them are supported by Microsoft!

What about multiple logins in Lync Server 2013?

We still have to wonder if Lync Server 2013 would support multiple logins. Many aspects of user management were updated in this version. Maybe an improvement to SIP addressing allows for multiple simultaneous logins?

After checking in TechNet and reviewing some fellow Microsoft bloggers, I have to say…no. Multiple logins is still a no-go for Lync 2013.

However, many of the workarounds Matt listed on the forum thread will work for 2013 as well. Personally, I think the best choice would be: Run a virtualized (second) copy of Lync on your desktop.
This would let you use a mobile client at the same time. And still be on Lync at your desktop. In terms of capabilities available, this seems the most promising.

Lync User QuickTip #4: Running Lync Twice on the Same PC – Matt Landis

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a supported solution by Microsoft! You take your chances. (And do a backup first!)

Lync knows where you are…in one spot

I always hate giving readers bad news…especially when they take the time to email in! But, “one login at a time” is just how Lync was made. It does make sense, considering Presence is intended to track where you are and what you’re doing.

We’ll just have to see what updates & modifications 2013 will bring.

Would you like to modify how Lync handles user access? In what way?


EDIT:  Please read the comments below if you’re confused.  I referred to simultaneous login activity with this post, not just signing in on more than one client!


Messenger Users Moved to Skype By March. Lync Users are NOT Next.

Like many of you, I received an announcement from Microsoft yesterday. They’re shuttering Messenger and moving accounts to Skype by March 15.

A few people on Twitter this morning asked the same question I had: “Does this mean Skype will replace Lync?”

First off, no. I don’t think it does. Lync isn’t going anywhere – we have a brand-new version to play with right now! So don’t worry too much. Instead, let’s consider where this move leads.

Merging Messenger’s contacts & functions into Skype suggests finality. It suggests that that’s what they plan to use for consumer-level IM from now on. Which is an overall good thing – easier to support one app across platforms. Especially one like Skype, with its huge user base and wide feature set.

But where does that leave Lync users? Is their app under threat?

Again, not really. If Microsoft follows the streamlining pattern, there are 4 possible courses they could take with Lync and Skype:

1. Skype replaces Lync.

Dumb move. Microsoft won’t do this. It would ruin their Lync base among larger businesses.

2. Lync absorbs Skype.

Possible, but unlikely. And that’s because of the move from Messenger to Skype. It would mean users have to move apps twice!
Microsoft is already having trouble with migrating contacts on THIS move. The comments on this Engadget article testify to it: Microsoft retiring Messenger on March 15th, wants you to use Skype instead – Engadget

3. A new Lync-Skype hybrid app replaces both platforms.

Ideally, a hybrid app would adapt itself to the user (Lync or Skype) and the platform (desktop, mobile, tablet). Technically, this is possible…but in terms of user base, it’s only possible way down the line, around 2016 or later. Right now, the business of streamlining user bases and application platforms won’t allow it.

4. Lync and Skype stay separate, but interoperate.

The most likely course. MS has too much invested in building Lync Server as a business communications platform to abandon its desktop app. This approach also allows Skype to keep growing among consumer-level platforms.
I’m supported here by “Lync Bridge“, my name for the coming Lync app for Windows 8 and Windows RT.
It will federate with Skype…but it’s still Lync. And both will work on mobile.

Merging Messenger users into Skype makes more sense than the other way around. Plus it means that Skype will continue to evolve as part of the Microsoft software family.

In the meantime, Lync users have Lync 2013 to play with. And Lync Bridge (Lync for Windows 8/RT) to look forward to.  So let’s not worry ourselves.

Do any of our readers use Skype AND Lync? Please leave a comment or email me. I’d like to ask a couple questions.