First off, I have to say Thank You to everyone who responded on the December poll. Not only did we get a healthy variety of answers, we had several emails from readers sharing how this blog helped them out last year.
Glad to help!
As I promised, let’s go through the poll results. See what we can tease out in terms of Skype for Business 2015’s reception.
December Poll Results: More Stability, Better Performance Needed
We had more than 60 responses to the poll. The #1 improvement request was “a stable, less bloated client”.
While we can all agree that stability is critical, I’m actually not surprised. Consider: Microsoft created Skype for Business 2015 from the merging of two disparate systems: Skype-C and Lync 2013. It was necessary to preserve the Skype-C user base’s expected features, as well as Lync’s broader capabilities.
I pretty much consider Skype for Business as “Version 1” of this new platform. It will, over time – hopefully not too much time! – grow more stable and sharper. (The bloat however, well, anyone’s guess.)
The next most-requested improvements were: RGS, Persistent Chat and Enterprise Voice (in that order).
RGS: I’m guessing performance is the major snag for most of you. If so, you’re not alone. We only use a handful of Response Groups (call flow after-hours, Support team, emergency reporting line, etc.). So far as I know, none have dropped calls or damaged audio clarity.
However, I see both of these occur sometimes for clients. One in particular worked out of a high-rise office building, and shared Internet access with other businesses in the building. As a result their available bandwidth fluctuated. Like you’d expect, this caused some issues with dropped calls or poor audio quality–but only when Response Groups directed the calls. Normal calls were rarely affected. We wound up installing a backup Internet pipe to shore up their bandwidth, and the problem went away.
Persistent Chat: One Persistent Chat issue I have is with its performance. With our on-premise Skype for Business server, IMs are real-time. Same with calls. Video performance is good. But Persistent Chat…it draaaags. Sometimes I can’t even open a chat room. So for this one, I’m right there with you guys!
Enterprise Voice: I’m curious as to the issues readers have encountered here. Enterprise Voice does take some configuration up-front, but it’s one of our most stable Skype for Business services. If you voted for Enterprise Voice needing improvement, please comment or email with your setup details. I’d love to hear what kinds of hardware are used, available bandwidth, what kind of configuration you have, etc.
(As always, we will never share any of your Skype for Business details with anyone else for any reason!)
Along with these, we had several user-submitted responses. Things like IM notifications, Mac client features, and so on. Thanks for these! I’ve made note of all of them. Look for responses, and (hopefully!) some good solutions, in future posts.
Speculations on Skype for Business in 2016
Given all this feedback and Microsoft’s 2015 actions, I shall now speculate on what will happen in the Skype4B field in 2016.
We do have 2 new certification exams coming:
70-333: Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015 (beta)
70-334: Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015 (beta)
From the descriptions, these exams are quite thorough. One devoted to the ins and outs of Enterprise Voice, and the other to Skype for Business setup & configuration.
This leads me to my first speculation: Microsoft will continue pushing a hybrid or cloud-only Skype for Business solution as a preferred option for businesses. The new features, like Cloud PBX, strengthen Microsoft’s hand in the VoIP marketplace. It makes perfect sense to update their certs…but we know which way they’re headed.
Of course, it doesn’t mean they’ll abandon Skype for Business Server and its clients. The Skype for Business client for Mac is coming. I believe we’ll also see updates to all other clients. Stability improvements for sure; feature add-ons, I hope. (Deleting voicemails on my iPhone, please?)
Sadly, I don’t think we’ll see a Linux client. At least not an official one. We’ve received comments on this very blog about Pidgin plugins for Lync services. I’m hoping to hear back from Mr. Andersson about his work, so I can test it out!
Which brings me to my final topic.
What to Expect from The Skype4B Insider Blog in 2016
For the past several years we’ve published 1 new post a week, usually on Wednesdays. One never wants a blog to go stagnant–then readers get bored and drift away. Now that it’s 2016, maybe it’s time for a change.
Or we can stick with the current schedule. This one I’m leaving up to you, our readers.
What do you think? Would you like fewer and more detailed posts per month? Or are we good to continue on this schedule? Please comment or email your thoughts. If you have other suggestions for the Skype4B Insider, by all means, send those too!
And of course, don’t forget to join us again next week. Until I hear from enough of you (one way or the other), we’ll continue on our regular schedule.