Category: Skype for Business Mobile

Skype for Business Q&A on Customization

Do you enjoy customizing everything about your desk? Your phone screen, posters, funny desktop gadgets…

Why not the same with your software? Judging by our search traffic, many of you would like to see more about customization for Skype for Business. I collected a whole group of search queries about customizing the Skype for Business client. So that’s what this post is about.

Again, these questions came from this blog’s Google Search Console data. Which means you – yes, you right there – may have submitted the question. Thanks!

Now, you’re no doubt curious. Let’s get to the answering part.

Group Post 2: Customization Questions & Answers

“How to Change Skype for Business Ringtone”
Some of us are OK with a phone’s default ringtone. Others will change it the second they can. For those of you in the latter crowd, it’s very easy to change your Skype for Business call ringtone.

In the Skype for Business client (I’m using the desktop version here), open up the Options window by clicking the gear at top right. Click “Ringtones and Sounds” in the window’s left-side menu.

Ringtone Choices in Skype for Business

You have four options for ringtone changes in the list: Your work number (the main line), your team/group calls, delegate calls, and Response Group calls. Chances are you’re just looking to change your work number’s ringtone. Click that line, and you’ll receive several choices. Click each one to hear it. If one of those sounds good to you, click OK at the bottom.

What if you don’t like any of them? Can you use a custom ringtone? You sure can. To set a custom ringtone (must be a .WAV file), click the “Sound Settings” button in this window. The Windows Sounds window will open.

Scroll down in the Sound’s “Program Events” box until you see the Skype for Business section. Click “Incoming Call” (see screenshot, in blue). With that selected, open the dropdown menu below it (in red).

Sounds Options for Skype for Business Client

These are available sounds within Windows. If you have your own sound file, click the “Browse” button to select it. Make sure it’s in a location where it won’t go anywhere, and that’s it in .WAV format. Click OK, and you have a custom ringtone!

(Note: This will only change the ringtone for you, on this one device.)

Mobile Skype for Business users – You can change your phone’s overall ringtone in your Settings app. The Skype for Business app should take its ringtone from there.

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“How to Change Skype for Business Theme”
Do the normal white-on-gray app layouts hurt your eyes? Some of us have visual impairments that make normal layout colors uncomfortable. Or perhaps you just like the ‘dark theme’ option (right there with you). Either way, a darker theme would appease your eyes & make work easier.

Unfortunately, Skype for Business doesn’t have a theme selector available in its clients. We’re stuck on this one. But what you can do is voice your opinion. Here’s a suggestion thread on SkypeFeedback.com, requesting a ‘dark mode’ theme for Skype for Business clients.

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“How to test Skype for Business connectivity”
If you’ve ever been in a webinar, then you know about the “Test Your Connection” process. Just before you join the webinar, you can click on a link to run a quick test of your speakers, microphone, video…and Internet connection.

Most of the time your connection’s fine. On the rare occasions it’s not though, you’re glad for the tester!

What if you want to do that for an on-prem Skype for Business Server? There are two easy ways to do that:

    1. Use one of the connectivity testers at https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com/.
      • The most relevant one is the Skype for Business Server Remote Connectivity Test. Enter your Skype4B account login, domain/username, and password. Verify your request and click “Perform Test.” That’s it.
Connectivity Test Skype for Business

Hmm, this customer needs a little support.

 

  • Start up a Skype Meeting – with yourself!
    Since the Skype Meeting’s communicating with the server to & from your client, it gives you a basic idea of connectivity. You can also rope a co-worker or two in. Bonus if said co-workers are in different offices.

 

This way you’re illustrating the ‘actual’ Meeting experience, without bothering customers. If you have a connectivity issue, it appears as you converse. Before any customers see it and think, “Well, this Skype thing’s not too stable…”

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“Where do Skype for Business recordings go?”
It’s possible to record your video calls and Skype Meetings directly within Skype for Business! Useful for webinar recordings, documentation, and preservation of communications (e.g. for regulatory compliance).

To activate a recording in a Skype Meeting:

  • Launch the Skype Meeting.
  • In the lower right corner, click the More Options button (the one with three dots).
  • Click “Start Recording.”
  • When you’re done with the meeting, return to More Options and click “Stop Recording.”
  • Wait a moment. Depending on how long the meeting went, it may take Skype for Business a minute or two to save the recording file.

To activate a recording in a video call: Follow the same steps as above. Both recording types will save in MP4 format.

You can always refer to past recordings via the Recording Manager. This is under “Tools” in the main Skype for Business client.

The default location for storing these recordings is the user’s Videos > Lync Recordings folder. You can change this location, as well as the recording quality. See the next answer for steps.

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“Can you change where Skype for Business recordings go?”
Of course! It’s an option you can set in your client. Go to Tools > Options, and click the Recordings options in the left-side menu. Click the “Browse” button next to the current folder, and navigate to the folder you want to use. I set mine to my Downloads folder.

The Skype4B administrator may change the default for all users, and/or disable users’ ability to change the default recordings location.

Skype for Business is OK on Customization

Customization isn’t as high of a priority for Skype for Business as privacy. Which does make sense; the content of your messages needs protection. If that means less attention paid to style, so be it.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything with it. Hopefully these answers provide a little more “fun” to your daily chats & meetings.

(I didn’t talk about emojis for one reason – you already know where those are!)

Do you have a question on Skype for Business to which you’ve never found an answer? Send it in! Let’s see what we can find out for you.

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How the Reverse Proxy Fits into Skype for Business

You asked for more “How It Fits” posts last year, and I’m happy to oblige. Today we’re discussing…the Reverse Proxy server!

Reverse Proxy is also part of the Skype for Business perimeter network, like Edge Server. The two act in concert, in fact, which made it an easy second choice for this series.

Now, one important thing: Reverse Proxy is NOT an official Skype for Business Server Role. You’ll need another device/appliance to serve as your Reverse Proxy. Fortunately, many good options exist; Microsoft has provided a list of reverse proxy servers to help. We’ve tried the MS Web Application Proxy and F5’s BIG-IP. Both worked very well for our purposes.

The Reverse Proxy’s Primary Role

A Reverse Proxy server facilitates external user access to some Skype4B tools. Like the Edge Server, it aids users outside the internal network: mobile users, federated users (e.g. partners, vendors), and customers.

How? It works by publishing some Skype for Business services to the public Internet, and regulating access to them from outside the perimeter network. I’ve listed which services in the next section.

Main Functions of a Reverse Proxy Server

Here’s the list of Reverse Proxy functions in a Skype for Business Server deployment. You’ll see that they all deal with external users, be they permanently remote or a standard user out of the office.

  • Connect to meetings or dial-in conferences using simple URLs (e.g., “meet.yourdomain.com”).
  • Download meeting content.
  • Expand distribution groups.
  • Get user-based certificates for client certificate based authentication. In other words, authorize some mobile clients to access the Skype for Business Server.
  • Download files from the Address Book Server, or to submit queries to the Address Book Web Query service.
  • Obtain updates to client and device software.
  • Allows mobile devices to automatically discover the Front End Servers offering mobility services (e.g., “lyncdiscover.yourdomain.com”).
  • Enables push notifications from Office 365 to mobile devices.

Some IT admins would argue that a Reverse Proxy’s final function is to frustrate them! That’s because it handles switching between ports on the same IP address, when traffic moves from the public Internet to the internal network. Here’s an example image.

Reverse Proxy Diagram

Image courtesy of Perficient Blogs.

You see the Reverse Proxy translating from TCP port 80 facing external, to TCP port 8080 facing internal. Same IP, different ports. Helps with security…but it’s a pain on a certification exam!

Other Servers Reverse Proxy Communicates With

Front End Server/Front End Pool. The Reverse Proxy communicates primarily with your Front End Server. It is publishing some of the Front End’s services out to the public Internet, and funneling in requests from external users to use those services.

Director/Director Pool. If your Skype for Business topology has a Director, the Reverse Proxy will publish its external Web services (e.g. Autodiscover) as well.

mobile user photo

Someone got locked out while outside the network!
Photo by GirlieMac

Edge Server. The Reverse Proxy also sits in the perimeter network, between the external and internal DMZs. It and the Edge Server have distinct roles, but the two must act in concert.

Without the Edge Server authenticating some external users, the Reverse Proxy could accidentally provide a Skype4B mobile service to the wrong user (or not at all!).

Load Balancer. Depending on where you use load balancing, the Reverse Proxy may need to talk to yours. Otherwise it could deprive some external users of the access they need. I’ll address this in the Load Balancers post.

Firewall. Since the Reverse Proxy uses two sets of ports matched to IP addresses, your firewall needs to play nice with it. Otherwise you’ll have some very locked-out (and upset) users outside the office!

Is One Reverse Proxy Server Enough?

In most cases, one Reverse Proxy per Skype for Business topology is enough. I checked with a co-worker regarding one hybrid deployment we did early last year. This customer has satellite offices and job site trailers…their external users easily outnumber internal users about 4 to 1. Yet they only have one Reverse Proxy, and report no bandwidth issues or delays.

That said, I can think of two situations where two or more Reverse Proxies may make sense:

  1. A high-availability global on-prem deployment.
  2. More than one perimeter network exists in your organization.

Reverse Proxy is What Makes Skype Meetings Happen Anywhere

Since the Reverse Proxy is not a Skype4B Server Role, I’m not sure what will happen to it with the Teams merger. It could continue to provide the same external publishing & regulation function as it does now. Teams would certainly need such services for guest users and remote workers. I’ll keep it in mind as we hear more about Teams.

Additional Reverse Proxy Resources:
Reverse Proxy 101 – Perficient Blogs
Edge Server System Requirements in Skype for Business Server 2015 – TechNet
Plan for Mobility for Skype for Business Server 2015 – TechNet

In the next “How it Fits” post I’ll address Load Balancers. What Skype for Business/Teams tool should I do after that? Please comment your choice!

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The State of the Skype for Business Ecosystem

Back in May of 2015, we did a post on which Skype for Business version businesses should use.

Since then, Microsoft has launched several major enhancements to Skype for Business, changed its focus from Server to Online, and beefed up its cloud capacity.

While I think the 2015 post is still accurate in terms of its comparisons, the whole ecosystem has changed. The “scope,” as it were, has broadened. Now we have numerous clients, platforms, and capabilities to choose from…as well as multiple competitors trying to reach the same customers.

Accordingly, I think it’s wise to start 2017 off with a snapshot of Skype for Business’ current state. What do we have available, what should admins know about, what’s the competition like, etc.

(Note: I will update this post semi-regularly going forward. If you see something we’re missing here, please email it to me so I can include it!)

The Skype for Business Ecosystem (as of January 2017)

Platforms:

  1. Skype for Business Server
  2. Skype for Business Online
    1. Subscriptions include Cloud PBX, PSTN Calling, and PSTN Conferencing.
  3. Skype Meetings
  4. Skype Teams
  5. Skype Room Systems & Microsoft Surface Hub
Skype Meetings Settings

Wow, lots of Skype for Business tools!

 

Quick Reference: What’s the difference between Skype, Skype Meetings, and Skype for Business?

 

Clients:
Windows Client
Mac Client
iOS App
Android App (Google Play)
Windows Phone App
Skype Meetings (Web Tool)

Skype for Business Competitors

First, a caveat: This will not be a comprehensive list!

Since Skype for Business contains many different tools, competitors stack up for each. Some competitors target one type of tool (video conferencing), while others go for a more comprehensive communications platform (like Skype4B itself).

 

Targeted Tools:Office 365 Services
Google Hangouts
GoToMeeting
Join.Me
WebEx

 

Comprehensive Communications Platform:
Slack
Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CallManager)
HipChat
WhatsApp (Getting more full-featured all the time, it seems…)

 

We’ve done some “competitor comparisons” on the blog, for your reference:

 

Looking at the Skype for Business ecosystem going forward

Image credit: Veronika Balasyuk

Potential for More Major Changes Coming This Year

This is where the Skype for Business ecosystem is, as of January 2017. What changes the year will bring, we cannot fully say. But we’ll blog about them all year long! (So don’t forget to subscribe. Top right.)

We do know some of Microsoft’s goals for the year. Skype for Business Advanced Analytics for one. Skype Room Systems – formerly Project Rigel – for another. (I have seen some of the products; they’re impressive!) And international expansions of Skype for Business capabilities as well.

Adoption level, competitor movements? We’ll see, won’t we?

 

What Skype for Business does your business have for 2017? Please comment or email.

Join us here next week for our first guest post of 2017!

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Skype for Business iOS Evaluation: Testing Results

Last month I mentioned that I hadn’t received a download for the Skype for Business iOS Mobile Evaluation client. When I did, I’d test it out like I did for the Mac Preview Meetings client.

I received the download link two days after posting. Onto my phone went the iOS evaluation client, and testing began!

I quickly discovered something important though. The Mac Preview client is meant for staged development releases. Allowing users to test one set of features, before adding another. The iOS evaluation client is different.

Client Setup

I installed the evaluation client according to the instructions. You must use the TestFlight app to download the evaluation client.
 
TestFlight app, Skype for Business

(I had the existing Skype4B iOS client already installed on this phone. I was able to keep it, and even run it when the evaluation client wasn’t signed in.)

You must enter your Skype number on sign-in. I saw an error window after doing this – “Saving phone number disabled due to the server policy.”

 

Saving Phone Number Issue

However, the client did save my number, and we have no server policy in place to block number saves on phones. Hmm, an issue appears!

Features & Similarities to Standard Client

The standard Skype for Business mobile features are available:

  • View Meetings
  • Make calls
  • Hear Voicemails
  • IM Contacts
  • Add Video to Conversations
  • Join Meetings

The evaluation client UI is near-identical to the standard iOS client. So much so that at first I thought the only difference was Conversation History. On the login screen of the Standard Skype4B iOS client, you get recent phone-based Conversation History.

I thought at first that the evaluation client would either not have Conversation History at all, or it would link to the Skype for Business Server (like it’s supposed to!). Testing revealed however, that the evaluation client behaves just like the standard client. Conversation History shows up under “recent” on the login screen.

The TestFlight install screen does call attention to one additional function: Skype intelligently detects meetings on non-federated domains and auto-joins them as a guest user for you. Saves you a step.

The Real Value: Microsoft’s Ear

When checking the Settings screen, I noticed an additional line in the options list: “dogfood feedback”

 

Skype4B Dogfood Feedback

As we’re a dog-themed IT company, I rather like that!

The term refers to the phrase, “eating your own dog food.” It means you use your own product to test and promote the same product. We’ve used the term for years now on our website. Every time Microsoft releases new software, we test it out in our datacenter before installing it for any customer. That way we know the software’s ins and outs beforehand, and can confidently say whether it will solve a customer’s problem.

In this case, Microsoft is asking all its preview users to submit “dogfood feedback.” I found the option under Settings, and in the options menu for each contact.

Why? Because Microsoft wants more feedback. And they’re offering their ear in exchange…a valuable opportunity.

Here’s what the Feedback Submission screen looks like.

 

Skype for Business iOS Feedback Form

 

I filled in a dummy example here, to show what kind of information Microsoft collects. I did submit feedback on the “Saving phone number” issue mentioned earlier.

Development Status: Further than Mac Preview, Not 100% Yet

Microsoft has not placed iOS Evaluation documentation on their Skype Preview website, www.skypepreview.com. As such I’m not sure the full extent of available or limited features in this client. We’re all waiting on more information, Microsoft!

Development on the iOS client is further along than the Mac Preview client we reviewed last time.  I suspect Microsoft solicits feedback with the iOS client to help bolster other client updates, like Android Mobile.

Have an Issue with Skype for Business on iOS? Here’s Your Chance to Speak!

As far as I can tell, the iOS evaluation client does not have significant new features. The Meetings join functionality is nice, but it’s just an automation of existing processes.

What it does have is a built-in feedback mechanism for gathering user data. Microsoft is polling its users for more data it can crunch, informing future updates from the results.

While I was hoping for more features to test, this is good too!

If you have an issue with Skype for Business on iOS, here’s your chance to be heard. Join the iOS Mobile Evaluation at www.skypepreview.com, download the evaluation client, and select “dogfood feedback” wherever you experience the issue. Even if you experienced the issue with the standard Skype for Business client, that’s still valuable feedback. Send it in!

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